Report Cites 5.7 Million US Employees in ‘Core’ Copyright Industries

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The International Intellectual Property Association produces its latest report on US ‘core’ copyright industries’ place in the economy.

Second hand books for sale in a street book market in Germany

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Core’ Copyright Industries
Created in 1984, the International Intellectual Property Alliance is a private-sector coalition of five trade associations representing companies in the United States that produce copyright-protected content including computer software, films, television programs, music, books, and journals.

Those member associations include the Association of American Publishers, which has helped call to our attention the alliance’s new report.

The other four trade associations in the alliance are:

  • The Entertainment Software Association
  • The Independent Film and Television Alliance
  • The Motion Picture Association
  • The Recording Industry Association of America

The Washington-based organization originally listed seven member-associations, including the National Music Publishers’ Association and the Business Software Alliance.

In a report issued Monday (December 14), the alliance goes over statistics that are helpful at year’s end for getting a fix on the economic magnitude behind copyright, so important to the viability of a healthy publishing industry. This is the 18th such report the alliance has issued since 1990.

Of particular interest to our international audience may be a couple of points brought forward in the material on American ‘exports in the copyrighted material sector, although publishing and books are not directly addressed here. Sales of select US copyright products in overseas markets amounted to $218.76 billion in 2019, a significant increase over previous years.

Image: IIPA, ‘Copyright Industries in the US Economy’

It would be helpful if the five associations of the International Intellectual Property Alliance, led by the AAP, would impress upon that group that electronic, chemical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and aerospace copyright activity is not all that could be broken out. The creative industries of film, music, books, and publishing might well form another pillar of the “selected” elements observed by this series of reports.

In an infographic, it’s clarified that “core” copyright industries include books, music, motion pictures, radio and television broadcasting, computer software, newspapers, video games, and periodicals and journals. So where are they?

The authors of the report are happy enough to break out electronics, chemicals, and aerospace, but don’t seem moved to set up a category for these creative industries which are the “core” interest of the AAP and its sister member-associations.

‘Copyright Industries in the US Economy’

Image: IIPA, ‘Copyright Industries in the US Economy’

These figures here are drawn from a new report called Copyright Industries in the US Economy, produced for the alliance by Robert Stoner and Jéssica Dutra of Economists Incorporated.

There’s an important caveat offered in the report’s introduction, pointing out that the data used for this 2020 report is drawn from 2019. This means, of course, as the report’s text reads, “The effects of COVID-19 in the economy cannot be clearly seen and/or estimated at this point. Some effects can, however, already be seen in foreign sales (reflected in the World Market section), as other economies were hit earlier than the United States, diminishing international activity toward the end of 2019.”

It will be interesting to see, of course, what impact the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic may be detectable in data for ensuing reports.

And in a quick introductory discussion of overall copyright challenges worth noting, the authors of the report write:

“Despite the robust achievements of the copyright industries during the period covered in this report (and in the prior reports), significant challenges remain.

“The copyright industries derive a growing percentage of their revenue from the digital marketplace.

“Problems such as outdated copyright and related enforcement laws; inadequate or ineffective enforcement (especially against online piracy); unlicensed uses of copyright materials; and market access challenges inhibit the growth of these markets in the United States and abroad.

“Economic reports such as this one underscore what is at stake. They provide a compelling argument for more effective laws, improved enforcement, and market access regimes that will promote and foster the growth of the copyright industries throughout the world for the benefit of consumers, as well as the creators, producers, and distributors of copyrighted materials.”

For the purposes of the report, a “core” copyright industry is defined as one the primary purpose of which is “to create, produce, distribute, or exhibit copyright materials.”


Image: IIPA, ‘Copyright Industries in the US Economy’

Here are selected highlights from the report’s findings.

Image: IIPA, ‘Copyright Industries in the US Economy’

Keep in mind, for some reason, the collection of creative industry output that the International Intellectual Property Association assures its constituent groups is part of the “core” group here is not separately broken out. This may make the material of less value than it could be to the publishing world.

  • In 2019, the value added by the core copyright industries to US GDP reached more than US$1.5 trillion dollars ($1,587.16 billion), accounting for 7.41 percent of the American economy
  • In 2019, the report indicates, the value added by the total copyright industries to GDP exceeded $2.5 trillion ($2,568.23 billion), accounting for 11.99 percent of the US economy.
  • The core copyright industries employed 5.7 million workers in 2019, accounting for 3.79 percent of the entire US workforce, and 4.46 percent5 of total private employment in the States
  • The average annual 2019 compensation paid to core copyright workers – $107,805– far exceeds the average annual compensation paid to all US workers – $75,214 – amounting to a 43-percent “compensation premium” over the average US annual wage
  • Overall, the copyright industries employed nearly 11.7 million workers in 2019, accounting for 7.71 percent of all US employment, or 9.06 percent of all private employment in the United States.
  • The average annual compensation paid to employees of the total copyright industries in 2019, $88,278.13, exceeds the American average annual wage by around 17 percent
  • During the period 2016 to 2019, the core copyright industries grew at an aggregate annual rate of 5.87 percent. The average annual growth rate of the entire US economy over the same period was only 2.48 percent. The core copyright industries grew more than two times the rate of the remainder of the economy
  • During the same period, the total copyright industries grew at an annual rate of 4.85 precent, also well surpassing the growth rate for the remainder of the economy

You’ll find the full report for download in PDF here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on copyright and publishing is here, more on the Association of American Publishers is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.