From an interesting new Fair Use study by the Computer and Communications Industry Association:
The study -- which I encourage you to check out -- concludes that the "fair use economy" in 2006 accounted for $4.6 trillion in revenues (roughly one-sixth of total U.S. gross domestic product), employed more than 17 million people, and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion (approximately one out of every eight workers in the US). It also generated $194 billion in exports and significant productivity growth. Using a methodology similar to a previous World Intellectual Property Organization guide, the results of the study demonstrate that fair use is an important economic driver in the digital age.Quoted from the Google Blog, via Searchblog. The comments include some worthwhile notes on the implication of this data and "fair" comments about Google's awkward championing of this study.
Copyright law involves a delicate balance, and here in the U.S. fair use is an important part of that equation. This study suggests that it's also an important part of the U.S. economy.