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Monday, 19 March 2012

Combined UK digital economy dwarfs creative sector, time for governments to marginalise copyright lobbyists

I've previously described the disproportionate amount of lobbying hence policy effort governments dedicate to copyright as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on government.

Governments should be focussing on the wider digital economy but focus their efforts instead on one small area: copyright.

They do this because a huge amount of lobbying goes towards pushing the copyright agenda.

Focus on copyright comes at the expense of directing policy resources at other more important areas of digital policy, such as ensuring networks remain trusted and secure.

Today, researchers helped put this in perspective.  The UK digital economy - as in the total value of trade which directly relied on the internet -  was worth £121 billion in 2010.

The digital economy contributed 8.3% of the total UK GDP in 2010, and that is higher than any other nation.

By comparison £121 billion dwarfs both the entire UK film industry (not just the digital distribution), which contributes around £1.6bn per year to UK GDP (source) and global sales of digital music, which are worth $4.6bn annually (£3bn).

Impressively the UK is claiming a third of the share in music download sales (£1bn) so let's be generous and add the value of the GDP contribution of the entire UK film industry to this and estimate digital content to be worth around £2.6bn £6.3bn (see update) per year to the UK.

£2.6bn is just 2% of the total value of the UK digital economy.
£6.3bn is just 5% of the total value of the UK digital economy.

Surely it's now time for the government and parliament to spend 50 20 hours discussing other digital policy issues (e.g. provision of rural broadband, deployment of 4G mobile broadband, online consumer protection, trust, payment methods, cyber fraud, etc...) for each hour spent discussing copyright.

UPDATE 13:05: Thanks to comments I've missed videogames, which seem to contribute around £1bn to UK GDP (source, although 3 years old) and book and print publishing, which from older research contributes around 0.18% to GDP (2004).

Assuming proportions remain approximately the same that would amount to £2.7bn from current GDP from print, and that would be generous since not all of this GDP contribution comes from digital.

UPDATE 13:27: doh! Ok I mixed dollars and pounds when calculating percentage from print. Corrected again.


1 comment:

  1. Any figures on what these different parts of the digital economy contribute to the balance of payments? Also, is the collapse of many high-value content funding models something we can just be relaxed about, in the same way that we'd be relaxed about losing our comparative advantage in (say) turnip production?

    And why are games counted on one side of this argument and films on the other? Games manufacturers are, surely, no keener on copying and sharing of their work than film-makers?

    By not addressing copyright in a way that ensures fair treatment for the people who make the content, you're effectively arguing for a subsidy from a democratically important and struggling industry to one that will mostly suck in imports.

    I am (as I suspect you'll have guessed) suggesting that a more effective use of levies would square all of these circles.


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