US Copyright Industries Add $1 Trillion to GDP, Report Finds

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

The economic contributions of U.S. copyright industries reached new heights last year, for the first time contributing more than $1 trillion to the gross domestic product and accounting for 6.5 percent of the nation’s economy, according to a new report.

The study tracks the economic effect and contributions of U.S. industries engaged in the creation and distribution of computer software, video games, books, newspapers, periodicals, journals and various other types of entertainment.

Those industries contributed $1.01 trillion in value-added services to the nation’s GDP in 2012. That’s up from $965 billion in 2011 and $885 billion in 2009, according to research released Tuesday by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a private coalition representing the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and other groups.

The figures, based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and other government agencies, combine total compensation paid to workers as well as gross profits of employers.

“This study represents a milestone,” said Steven J. Metalitz, counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance. “In order to preserve and enhance jobs, exports and economic contributions, it is critical that we have strong legal protections for U.S. creativity and innovation in the U.S. and abroad.”

It’s the 14th survey by the industry coalition, which was formed in 1984 to improve protection of copyrighted materials and promote market access around the world.

The findings were released in advance of a congressional subcommittee hearing on copyright issues, one of several to be held on the topic in Washington in the next several months.

Maria Pallante, register of copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office, has signaled her support for updating federal copyright law. The last significant revision occurred in the late 1990s, long before the advent of tablets and other devices dramatically changed how films, books, music and other content are delivered to consumers.

In other key findings, the study concluded that copyright industries employed nearly 5.4 million U.S. workers in 2012 and grew at an aggregate annual rate of 4.7 percent from 2009 to 2012, more than twice the rate of growth for the U.S. economy.

“The U.S. copyright industries have consistently outperformed the rest of the U.S. economy, in terms of their real annual growth rates and their contributions to the overall growth of the U.S. economy as a whole,” the report states.

Additionally, copyright industries accounted for $142 billion in foreign sales and exports last year, far more than sectors such as aerospace, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals and medicines. The gains were driven by the computer software, motion picture, video game and other industries. Recorded music, newspapers, books and periodicals saw declines in foreign sales over the four-year period.

“This report makes it crystal-clear that workers in the creative industries make a huge contribution to America’s economy,” said Matt Loeb, international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. “It also underscores the urgent need to do more to build, strengthen and protect employment in this dynamic part of our nation’s economy.”