Anyone want to do an interesting study? What would the impact of Open Access for education be on our trade deficit?

Michael Geist blogged today about the increase in our cultural trade deficit, largely with the United States (See WorldMapper visual from 2002).

The Statistics Canada study he linked to indicates the following breakdown of what we were importing:

Canadians imported mainly books and newspapers from the United States. For every $10 of culture goods Canadians imported from the United States, $7.61 were spent on writing and published works, $0.85 on film and video, and $0.58 on advertising. The remainder was spread among sound recordings, photography and original art.

In previous (unfortunately off the record) conversations with people from Access Copyright, they suggested that approximately 3/4 of the royalties flowing through this collective society are for educational publishers.

An interesting study would be to see the impact of wide adoption of Peer Production and Open Access methods of creation, distribution and funding of non-fiction educational material by the Canadian educational sector. While I believe this would massively decrease the costs of these materials for provincial educational budgets, allowing them to shift these funds to much better uses, it could also help towards reducing our trade deficit on intangibles with the United States.

I believe that it is important to note that the Statistics Canada summary broke out cultural industries from other intangibles. The study indicated that, "Items such as technical, scientific and professional books, text books for school, art and pictorial books, journals, periodicals and cards are included in this culture category."

I wonder if this is something that the Canadian library community could take on, given organizations like CARL seem to be doing studies while I haven't seen much out of the educational sector itself. (CMEC is largely on the side of the legacy educational publishers in their lobbying).

I am pretty confident that it did not include software, given the deficit with the USA is much higher when software is included. This is yet another reason why Canada should be promoting Free/Libre and Open Source Software which has considerable participation by Canadians, while the non-FLOSS marketplace represents (and will always represent) a trade deficit. This would be, however, a different study.