Copyright is the means by which a person or a business makes a living from creativity. Copyright springs from a simple notion: the people that create, produce or invest in creative work should be the ones that decide how that work should be reproduced and made available to the public.

Enshrined in international law for more than 200 years, copyright provides the economic foundation for creating and disseminating music, literature, art, films, software, and other forms of creative works. Copyright also protects culture and fosters artistic integrity.

Copyright provides that the rights holders determine whether and how copying, distributing, broadcasting and other uses of their works take place. This gives talented people the incentive to create great works, and entrepreneurs the economic reasons to invest in them.

Copyright has underpinned an extraordinary modern economic success story, accounting for tens of millions of jobs worldwide. The dramatic growth of the artistic, cultural and other creative industries in today's major economies would have been impossible without the strong levels of copyright protection that those countries have developed over many decades.

The latest available government estimates in Europe and the United States value copyright-based industries respectively at 360 billion Euros and US$. Among the ARIPO Member States it is only Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania who have had the studies undertaken with the assistance of WIPO (WIPO STUDIES ON THE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION OF THE COPYRIGHT INDUSTRIES, 2014) and the statistics are as per Chart 1.

Chart 1: Overall Contribution of Copyright Industries to GDP and Employment

The overall performance of the copyright industries in the countries surveyed indicates the existence of a sizeable sector, which in most countries was found to be beyond the level of expectations.  Copyright has often been perceived predominantly as a legal category and has not been analyzed as a factor of social and economic importance.  The overview suggests that copyright industries have a significant economic contribution of ten exceeding the contribution of traditional sectors of the economy.  The information on the overall economic contribution has often been used to focus the attention on the potential of copyright industries, to contribute to achieving the development objectives of the country.

Contribution to GDP

The value-added produced by the copyright industries, expressed as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is a central indicator used in numerous studies to project the importance of an industry.  The contribution of copyright industries to GDP varies significantly of across countries from over 11% in the USA to under 2% for Brunei. With the average 5.18 %, three quarters of the countries have a contribution between 4% and 6.5%.  Countries that have experienced rapid economic growth typically have above average share of GDP attributed to copyright industries.

Contribution to National Employment

The contribution of copyright industries to national employment is slightly higher than the share of GDP and stands at an average of 5.32%.  Nearly three quarters of the countries fall in the range between 4% and 7% contribution to national employment.  Mexico and the Philippines have by far the highest share of their labor force in the copyright Industries.  Most countries with above average share of the copyright industries5 in GDP also exhibit above average share of employment.  Employment generation has been a most important indicator for the socio- economic importance of the copyright sector.