© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

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Copyright contributes nearly $1 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy. Yes, you’re seeing that correction, that’s TRILLION with a “T.” That accounts for .nearly 6.5 percent of the U.S. GDP according to a study released today by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).  Between 2009 and 2012 the copyright economy grew by 4.7 percent, more than twice as much as the rest of the economy.


The study tracks the  economic impact and contributions of U.S. industries creating, producing, distributing, broadcasting or exhibiting copyright materials, including computer software, videogames, books, newspapers, periodicals and journals, motion pictures, music, and radio and television programming. If proof was ever needed that the U.S. is now an information economy this is it.


What that figure does not take into account is the value of copyrighted goods that are pirated, by all measures an extraordinary and growing number. The good news is the vast size of the copyright economy. Its current value is up from $965 billion in 2011 and $885 billion in 2009. The total copyright industries employed more than 11.1 million workers in 2012, accounting for 8.35% of all U.S employment, or 10% (9.99%) of all private employment in the United States. The copyright economy is also bringing an an estimated $142 billion from foreign sales.   Foreign sales from the copyright sectors exceeded foreign sales of other industries including exports of aerospace products, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals and medicines.


What that means is that goods that are pirated extract value from the nation’s economy and from the paychecks of Americans who depend on the copyright industry for their livelihoods. And we’re not talking about Brad Pitt’s and Jennifer Lopez’s salaries here. We’re talking about the salaries of production employees and independent artists, most of them behind the scenes.


Many people feel that copyright piracy is a victimless crime, and at the very least a crime of marginal value. How much after all is a DVD worth? What the numbers show is that they add up quickly. The value adds up even more quickly. The bottom line is that we are now an information economy, more than every before. Content and information are not commodities and they are certainly not free to produce. Consider the value of the products and their importance to our economy the next time you consider piracy yourself or turning a blind eye to those who do it.


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