Do Copyright Exceptions Help or Hurt?

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A new Australian study suggests gentler copyright laws could boost the economy there. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that's true in the U.S., too.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation – a non-profit that advocates on online free speech, privacy, and consumer rights issues – wrote Friday about a new study published by the Australian Digital Alliance.

The study suggests easing copyright protections “could potentially add an extra $600 million to their economy,” and that current copyright exceptions are what allow companies that account for 14 percent of Australia’s gross domestic product to exist. Those findings echo an American study, EFF points out…

Yet the Australian study confirms similar research done by CIAA in the U.S., showing how important fair use exceptions are to the economy. In fact, fair use accounted “for more than $4.5 trillion in annual revenue” in the US and exceeding the economic benefits of copyright laws themselves.

It’s a sore point for some in the music and film industries (namely the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America) who feel copyright law isn’t strong enough to protect their bottom line. They have argued stronger protections would also create or keep more jobs.

The EFF post has a lot more on the debate over copyright law and the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) from last year.

Stacy Johnson

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