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.