We know that U.S. copyright law protects the value of creativity across our nation. What’s said less frequently is just how much it contributes, which is addressed this week in a study released by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), and the final figure is nothing short of spectacular.

Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economyattributes some $1.1 trillion to the country’s bottom line, which accounts for 6.7 percent of the entire economy. The report underlines the extent to which the copyright economy has not only aided but outperformed the national economy during a tough period.

Copyright growth 2009-2013

Copyright Growth 2009-2013 | Source: IIPA

From 2009 – 2013 the copyright economy grew by 3.9 percent, almost twice as much as the rest of the U.S. economy in the same period. In addition to the clear benefit to U.S.-based creators, expansion in the copyright economy has also been a key catalyst for wider growth during a turbulent economic period. Associated industries collectively employ 5.5 million people and those jobs clearly influence spending power around the country, spreading the copyright income to other areas that need it.

Other notable findings of the report include:

Copyright Report Cover

  • The $1.1 trillion figure means that copyright contributes 6.71% of the nation’s entire income.
  • Exports of select copyright sectors contributed $156 billion in foreign sales and exports, making a positive contribution to the overall trade deficit that has concerned national leaders for years.
  • Workers in copyright-related employment earn on average 34% more than other employees in the U.S.
  • The average annual wage of a copyright worker is $87,860 and this type of employment makes up 4% of the country’s workforce.


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 ever proof were needed that the creative economy plays a pivotal role in the country’s wider economic fortunes, this study underlines that point.

Congressman Doug Collins, co-chair elect of the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, sums up this value as follows:

“This study confirms what creators know best… copyright is the foundation of innovation, and innovation is the force that drives our economy.

It’s a sentiment that is echoed around the world, even from the most unexpected quarters. None other than Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has criticized the U.S. in almost every other area as he stands off against the west, recently held American creators up as an example of “talented and successful people we can learn from.”

But even more than sentiment, it’s the stats that bear out the reasons for passionate advocacy of copyright. For anyone unconvinced by the value of those rights, now you have a digit to put to it: $1,100,000,000,000. That’s plenty of reasons to avoid illegal options, if not for the ethics then for the economics of supporting your country’s creators!