USTR Should Include Fair Use in an updated NAFTA with Canada and Mexico
As the leader of an organization that represents the interest of creators and consumers, I have reason for optimism and cause for concern with the U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal announced this week as talks accelerate with Canada. Much has changed in the two decades that have passed since NAFTA was first born, including the expansion and the reach of the internet. This has created access to new industries and new markets across the globe, and the old NAFTA did not represent this new reality.
The numbers behind these new markets and new industries are significant. A 2017 study released by Re:Create found that nearly 15 million independent, American creators representing all 50 states earned a baseline of almost $6 billion from posting their music, videos, art, crafts and other works online in 2016. The research is only a tiny snapshot of the entire New Creative Economy.
Essential to keeping this online economy humming are America’s digital laws and its innovation-oriented approach to copyright, including fair use. Another 2017 report focused on the economic contribution of fair use industries revealed that these industries account for 16 percent of the U.S. economy and generate $5.6 trillion in annual revenue. They have increased U.S. exports by 21 percent over four years to $368 billion and employ 18 million U.S. workers. Without America’s balanced copyright framework, 10.4 million internet-dependent jobs would be jeopardized.
Though the new trade agreement does make progress in modernizing copyright issues, we are concerned it may not include fair use language. At best this is an issue that needs to be resolved during ongoing negotiations with Canada. At worst, it is an unfathomable failure to account for the value of part of the digital economy that could jeopardize potentially billions for the millions of Americans who rely on balanced copyright policies.
These are impactful numbers that can compete with any industry. If the Administration’s goal with these negotiations is to help America compete and win, that should also include helping America compete and win online by standing up for its balanced copyright system, including fair use, that will protect American businesses.
While we urge negotiators to continue to make progress on important copyright issues during negotiations with Canada, a failure to include fair use language would be unacceptable because it will undermine America’s digital leadership.