Copyright industries a ‘significant contributor’ to Australian economy

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The Australian Copyright Council has released a PwC report measuring the value of Australia’s copyright industries between 2006 and 2018.

The three key findings were that the copyright industries:

  1. Contributed $124.1 billion to the economy, which amounted to 6.8% of Australia’s GDP
  2. Employed more than 1 million people, or 8.3% of the total workforce
  3. Generated $4.8 billion in exports, or 1.5% of all exports from the country

Compared to other nations, Australia’s economy was found to be relatively more dependent on the copyright industries; by 2018 they constituted our fifth largest industry in terms of gross value added. The top four sub-industries, generating 60% of total value added, were software; radio and television; music, theatrical production and opera; and press and literature.

The report acknowledged that its employment estimates were based on primary employment and likely underrepresented those who actively worked a secondary job – meaning that the true number of people employed by the copyright industries is likely to be higher.

Clearly, these industries have made – and continue to make – a significant contribution to the nation’s economy.

Nevertheless, the report identified some red flags around the rise of digital content and competition from new business models. Although there is potential for growth, with a positive outlook for those industries that embrace digital production and distribution, there was a notable decline in traditional media like radio and television, and press and literature.

Press and literature was also (along with photography) hit with the greatest employment declines. This correlates with concerns raised by the ACCC in its Digital Platforms Inquiry around falling numbers of professional journalists.

In the face of seismic change, the ability to adapt to a shifting landscape will become ever more important for long-term sustainability.

Finally, although the report focuses on economic activity, it also recognises that the creation of copyright-protected material yields other important benefits. The social, cultural and educational value is just as important as the market value – a fact that has been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s copyright industries are needed now more than ever.

You can find the PwC report – the sixth of its kind – on the Australian Copyright Council website. It applies a globally consistent methodology developed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), allowing for consistent comparison over time and across countries.

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