Claims to Expand Copyright Exceptions Driven by 'Bad Science'

18 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2016

See all articles by George Robert Barker

George Robert Barker

Australian National University; London School of Economics; Law and Economics Consulting Associates Ltd

Date Written: June 14, 2016


This report reviews a number of papers being used to try and justify major copyright policy changes in Asia Pacific. Specifically, this reports reviews five papers cited by Google in Australia in support of its submission (the Submission) to the Productivity Commission's (PC) inquiry into Australia's intellectual property arrangements. In the Submission, Google expressed the view that Australia's copyright system is not as effective, efficient or adaptive as it needs to be, and that it is impeding Australia┬╣s capacity to innovate.

Our review of the empirical data Google cites, however, finds that in general, contrary to the claims that they are being used to support, these studies conclusions are bad science and offer no substantial empirical evidence of a causal link between broader copyright exceptions and productivity and economic growth. The studies cited in the Submission have been discredited, containing fundamental errors in empirical research, making them unfit for policy-making. Moreover, the evidence in the studies appears to contradict the claims made in the Submission. In particular:

- The 2012 Singapore fair use study cited by Google suggests that US-style fair use exceptions in Singapore were associated with a fall in the rate of growth of copyright industries. Singaporean copyright industry revenue growth slowed from 14.16 per cent to around 6.68 per cent per annum after the introduction of fair use.

- The 2012 Australian Lateral Economics Study cited by Google shows that fair use exceptions in the US are associated with a lower rate of growth of value-add in what it calls copyright exceptions industries in the US, compared the same industries in Australia.

Thus, as a result of the empirical analysis contained herein, this report concludes that the argument advanced by the Submission that broader copyright exceptions will promote productivity and economic growth is not based on sound research.

Keywords: Copyright Law, Economics, Copyright Exemptions, Fair Use, Digital Economy

JEL Classification: K11, K29

Suggested Citation

Barker, George Robert, Claims to Expand Copyright Exceptions Driven by 'Bad Science' (June 14, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

George Robert Barker (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

London School of Economics ( email )

United Kingdom

Law and Economics Consulting Associates Ltd ( email )

Level 9 Chifley Tower
2 Chifley Sq
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61405 394 193 (Phone)

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