Study: Piracy Hits Beyond H'wood

Hoping to put a spotlight on how piracy could stunt the growth of the entire U.S. economy and not just entertainment companies, NBC Universal released an exhaustive study Monday that attributes a large portion of the job, wage and economic growth in the country to industries that rely on the protection of their intellectual property.

The IP industries represent "the most important growth drivers in the current U.S. economy, contributing nearly 40% of the growth achieved by all U.S. private industry," according to the report.

NBC Universal commissioned the 91-page report, titled "Engines of Growth: Economic Contributions of the U.S. Intellectual Property Industries," from Stephen Siwek of Economists Incorporated.

The report estimates that growth in U.S. gross domestic product from 2002-2010 would be reduced from $3.1 trillion to $2 trillion without the contribution of the IP industry.

"Digital piracy is an issue that goes far beyond illegal downloading of music or movies," NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright said. "Theft and counterfeiting of intellectual property of all types is a serious and growing problem for the U.S. economy. This study provides important empirical evidence of just how much is at stake."

Siwek and his team broke the IP industries into three categories, with the entertainment industry falling under "digital convergence industries" along with software and data processing businesses. The other categories were "patent dependent industries (aerospace, automotive, computer hardware, etc.) and "general wholesale, retail and transportation industries."

Convergence industries represented 9.6% of the nation's GDP in 2003, or 11% of private-industry GDP. They employed 8.61 million people last year, 6.3% of total GDP employment and 7.6% of private-industry GDP, the report said.

When the convergence category is broken down into more specific industries, it becomes clear that entertainment companies are contributing more job growth than most others.

Motion pictures and sound recording, lumped together for purposes of the study, added 12,800 jobs last year to 389,000. Radio, TV and Internet broadcasting all added jobs, while the category of cable networks and program distribution did not.

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Paul Bond writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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