Putting a number on copyright rents
- From this summer, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is going to capitalise "artistic originals" in the national accounts, which will in effect put a number on the present value of copyright rents in the US. The figure in the initial research was $440bn but I think it will be somewhat higher when the final results come out in July. Here is a snippet of what I wrote in the FT this morning.
2. Artistic Originals
The Internet Movie Database may not seem like a natural source of data for the national accounts, but it was one of many combed by BEA researcher Rachel Soloveichik, who went through film studio records as far back as the 1920s to build a series on investment in movies.
The result is not only an estimate of the capital value of all America’s books, movies, records, TV programmes, plays and greeting card designs but also a fascinating picture of how their importance to the economy has changed over time.
A film or book is produced in one year but enjoyed for many – the Financial Times recently reported that the sitcom Seinfeld has generated $3.1bn in revenue since it went off air in 1998 – and the accounting change is meant to capture that capital value.
Preliminary research by the BEA puts investment in artistic originals at $70bn for 2007 so that figure will go into GDP. The figures may ignite some controversy because they will amount to the first official estimate of the value captured from thelaws of copyright.
Investment in movies peaked during the Great Depression at nearly 0.3 per cent of the economy but has fallen below 0.1 per cent today. TV is now the biggest category.