The copyright industry’s lobby has — again — claimed that unless strong measures are taken to enforce copyright, jobs will be lost across Europe. This claim is false, deceptive and misleading, as it only focuses on copyright-dependent sectors while ignoring the copyright-inhibited sectors. It turns out the latter account for ten times more of the economy.
Executive summary: for every job lost (or killed) in the copyright industry due to nonenforcement of copyright, 11.8 jobs are created in electronics wholesale, electronics manufacturing, IT, or telecom industries — or even the copyright-inhibited part of the creative industries.
A lot of people have pointed out the laughability of the copyright industry’s claim that 1.2 million jobs will be lost until 2015 if not harsh measures are taken to enforce copyright. But assuming a scenario where that happened, when the copyright-inhibited industries are factored into this calculation, a loss of 1.2 million jobs in the copyright industries translate to 14.2 million gained jobs in the copyright-inhibited industry sectors, for a net gain of 13 million jobs in Europe.
Unfortunately, perfectly comparable numbers of the economics here are scarce if they exist at all. I have therefore taken the liberty to compare numbers from the creative industries in Britain with numbers for the electronics and IT industries in Sweden. I am making the assumption that, given the uncertainties overall in these studies, they are comparable enough to get a ballpark impression of what the land looks like. That is what we’re after.
First, a breakdown of the “creative industries”.
According to Beyond The Creative Industries (Peter Higgs et al), the creative industries in Britain indeed account for about 7% of the GDP. But the copyright industry’s lobby likes to equate “Creative Industries” with “Depends on copyright for a living”. This makes the copyright industry look larger than it is. As we shall see, this is not so at all.
The Creative Industries heading breaks down into six subgroups, copyright-dependent or copyright-inhibited as follows:
- Advertising and Marketing, 11%. Entirely copyright-inhibited.
- Architecture, Visual Arts and Design, 19%. This is a tricky one with many subgroups ranging from Architecture (copyright-inhibited) to Fashion Design (copyright-agnostic: fashion isn’t copyrightable). A generous estimate says that 25% of this group is copyright-agnostic and the rest inhibited.
- Film, TV, radio, photo, 9%. Again, a very mixed group. Some parts of it are clearly copyright-dependent, whereas most is inhibited. Again, a generous estimate says that 25% is copyright-dependent and the rest inhibited.
- Music and Performing Arts, 13%. Yet another mixed group. Whereas songwriters would be considered copyright-dependent by the publishing industry, dancers and other interpretive artists are obviously not. An estimate says 50% of this group is copyright-dependent.
- Publishing, 6%. This middleman group is 100% dependent on the copyright monopoly.
- Software, Games, and Electronic Publishing, 32%. Yet another mixed group. Software accounts for the largest part in other economies in this group, and software services and consultancy (copyright-inhibited) is the largest part by far in software. Still, there is some dependency on licensing the copyright monopoly in this group. An estimate says 25% of this group is dependent on the copyright monopoly, 75% is inhibited by it.
This gives us the following graphics for “Creative Industries”:
Now, let’s look at the numbers as percentage of contribution to GDP, and add in ICT and consumer electronics here. Unfortunately, I don’t have those numbers for Britain, but let’s assume that the Swedish and British economies are similar enough to get a rough overview picture.
The ICT industry in Sweden tracks its member companies’ revenue quite closely. The entire industry is copyright-inhibited, with the exception of copyright license sales. Discounting that part, we get a total yearly revenue of MSEK 429,105. The Swedish GDP is MSEK 2,900,790. This means that the copyright-inhibited part of ICT accounts for 14.8 per cent of GDP.
(License-selling companies are already counted under “creative industries”, by the way, as we recall.)
Moving on to consumer electronics, which is also fueled by a lack of copyright monopoly enforcement (or “copyright-inhibited”), according to the industry association Elektronikbranschen, their revenue is 30 GSEK, accounting for another 1.0% of GDP.
This brings us to the following graph, comparing the contribution from industries dependent on the copyright monopoly vs. industries inhibited by the monopoly:
As we can see, the contribution of the copyright-inhibited industries outweigh the copyright-dependent industries by a factor of 11.8.
Assuming full 1:1 economic proportionality between the these industries, this means that any job lost as a result of nonenforcement of the copyright monopoly in one of the industries that depend on the copyright monopoly will generate 11.8 new jobs in other industries, in the copyright-inhibited industries.
Now, of course, there are a lot of assumptions here. Sweden and Britain’s economies may not map to this precision. The proportionality may be skewed in either direction. The breakdowns of the industries may not be perfect, double-counting or not-counting some specific niches. It might be hard to defend there being exactly 11.8 new jobs created for every job lost in the copyright industry. It may be eight, or seven, or fourteen. But the conclusions stand and are clear:
Prevent copyright enforcement, or weaken or kill copyright, and create jobs. Lots more of them.
When confronted with data like this, the copyright industry usually responds that all ICT and consumer electronics industries depend on them creating monopolized entertainment to fill the gadgets and pipes, so that they would somehow be irreplaceable.
This claim is deceptive, dishonest and bordering on fraudulent. It’s as if water bottling plants would have the audacity to claim that all other industries were dependent on them. As a friend would put it, it’s so far out it doesn’t reflect any visible sunlight.