How Bogus Counterfeiting Stats Become Fact

from the watch-the-process-at-work dept

We've seen in the past how easily bogus stats from a biased industry can suddenly become "fact" as the press uses the stats without questioning the assumptions or even noting the inherent bias in the numbers. Michael Geist is examining exactly how that has happened in Canada in the debate over what to do concerning counterfeit goods. Apparently, many pushing for stronger anti-counterfeiting legislation in Canada point to the RCMP's supposed claim that counterfeiting is costing Canada $30 billion. The problem is that the number the RCMP is using wasn't based on a careful study or anything -- it was based on some random claims they found online, that were actually numbers thrown around by lobbyists paid to pump up the supposed threat to (yes, you guessed it) push for stronger protective laws. Yet, because the RCMP used those numbers without bothering to explain that they just plucked them off the internet with no effort to research the actual situation, many are now assuming that the numbers are accurate. In the meantime, two separate recent studies by neutral parties have shown that the claims over losses from counterfeiting have been grossly exaggerated. Unfortunately, no one seems to have paid that much attention to either study... not when the RCMP is showing the cost as $30 billion.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 3:59pm

    This smells of...

    corruption in the RCMP. They obviously have an agenda and are using random numbers off the internet to push it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Fact Checking Mike, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 5:01pm

    GAO Link You Misquote

    Mike,

    It is possible that the link you gave to the GAO/Geist report had additional elements that refer to piracy but what was shown only dealt with counterfeiting.

    Could you link to the parts of GAO report that mention piracy specifically or stop inferring that piracy and counterfeiting are magically connected?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jérôme Auclair, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 5:04pm

    80% of Stats are made on the spot ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 19th, 2007 @ 5:52pm

    Re: GAO Link You Misquote

    It is possible that the link you gave to the GAO/Geist report had additional elements that refer to piracy but what was shown only dealt with counterfeiting.

    When did I say it was about piracy? Both in this story and the one on the GAO report I focused only on counterfeit goods.


    Could you link to the parts of GAO report that mention piracy specifically or stop inferring that piracy and counterfeiting are magically connected?


    Could you point out where I inferred that? I don't believe I did.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    GAO LINK, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 7:20pm

    Mike's quote from link (partial quote)

    "Earlier this week we noted that the latest GAO report found that industry estimates of the impact of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy were greatly exaggerated..."

    You connected them in your link to your own article

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 19th, 2007 @ 7:32pm

    Re:

    Mike's quote from link (partial quote)

    That's from a different story, not either this one or the one about the GAO study, so it's odd that you'd bring it up.

    However, if you read the GAO report, you'll see that it discusses in pretty great detail intellectual property violations -- which are what the industry refers to (incorrectly I should say) as piracy. In fact, in this latest story about the Canadian discussion on the topic, it's clear that the side pushing for stronger copyright laws often purposely mixes up piracy and counterfeiting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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