The economic contribution of Australia’s copyright industries 2002-2014

Australian Policy Online,
29 April 2015, Australia

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has identified four classes of copyright industries:

• Core – industries that exist only because of copyright and are primarily involved in the creation, manufacture, production, broadcast and distribution of copyrighted works. 

• Partial – a portion of the industries’ activities are related to copyright through manufacture, performance, exhibition, broadcast, communication or distribution and sales. 

• Interdependent – involved in the manufacture, performance, broadcast and communication in order to support and facilitate the creation of copyrighted works and other protected subject matter. 

• Non-dedicated support – duties are included in this group where part of the activities are related to broadcast, communication, distribution and sales in protected subject matter and they are not included in the core copyright industries.  


This common typology facilitates consistent analysis of the economic contribution of the copyright industries over time and across countries.


Even where companies or individuals are somewhat reliant on copyright exceptions (e.g. the education sector, musicians, television producers, software companies, etc) they are still likely to be generators of copyright-protected material.


Despite pressures caused by digitisation (which have challenged the delivery of traditional business models in a number of copyright industries, particularly in a high dollar environment — e.g. music, movies, games, software, books, newspapers, television, etc) and resultant piracy, copyright remains a key piece of infrastructure that supports the industries which comprise a modern economy. In the most recent year for which data is available (2013-14), Australia’s copyright industries:



• Employed just over 1 million people (specifically, 1,000,167 people), which constituted 8.7 per cent of the Australian workforce. This level of employment intensity is relatively high in comparison to the USA (8.4 per cent) and Canada (5.6 per cent). The real average wage for people employed in the copyright industries has also increased from $59,500 in 2004-05 to $68,960 in 2013-14 per employee. 

• Generated economic value of $111.4 billion, the equivalent of 7.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is greater than the manufacturing and health care sectors. For comparison, the copyright industries comprised11.4 per cent of GDP in the United States and 5.4 per cent in Canada. Over the period 2001-02 to 2007-08 the real (i.e. inflation adjusted) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for value add generated by copyright industries was 3.7 per cent, with the core copyright industries growing 3.2 per cent per year. Over the subsequent period 2008-09 to 2013- 14 the real value add CAGR for all copyright industries was zero per cent, and 0.3 per cent for the core copyright industries. 

• Generated just over $4.8 billion in exports, equal to 1.8 per cent of total exports. The relative value of copyright exports has declined as a proportion of total exports in recent years.