Study Suggests "Fair Use" Means Big Business
Andrew Albanese -- Library Journal, 09/17/2007The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) last week issued a study suggesting that "fair use dependent industries" contributed more than $4.5 trillion in annual revenue for the United States in 2006, roughly one sixth of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). The $4.5 trillion figure represents a 31 percent increase since 2002, CCIA officials added, estimating that nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that "benefits from current limitations on copyright." The study was released at a briefing on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers are being lobbied by the entertainment industry to consider legislating technical solutions to what they've characterized as rampant piracy, particularly on college campuses. Opponents have argued that technical solutions are ineffective, costly, and would infringe upon users' rights.
If, as critics suggest, money talks in politics, the CCIA (an international association of computer and communications companies that includes Google and Microsoft) and its allies have loudly joined an increasingly contentious conversation in Congress. This summer, lobbying for an amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act (HERA), the Motion Picture Association of America told lawmakers piracy cost them more than $6 billion annually, and cost "U.S. industries" roughly $20.5 billion, with 44 percent of the industry's "total loss" attributable "to campus piracy." Among its provisions, the HERA amendment would have required university administrations to detail anti-piracy efforts for their campus networks. That amendment, however, was quietly removed at the last second.
Release of the study, meanwhile, is another salvo in the CCIA's Defend Fair Use campaign. This summer, the CCIA filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) arguing that the copyright warnings frequently heard during telecasts such as major sporting events were overly broad and misrepresented copyright law. That complaint was backed the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), which filed a letter of support with the FTC. LCA consists of five major library associations: the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Medical Library Association (MLA), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA), collectively representing over 139,000 libraries in the United States.
Ed Black, president and CEO of CCIA, said the fair use study quantified for the first time "critical contributions of fair use to the U.S. economy," and that the timing was particularly important as the "debates over copyright law in the digital age move increasingly to center stage on Capitol Hill."