Anti-Counterfeiting Group Has Students Create Counterfeit Blog To Explain Why Counterfeiting Is Bad

from the it's-bad,-y'see dept

Slashdot points us to the story of how Hunter College agreed to create a “sponsored” class with money from the industry group the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) where the students were required to (irony alert) create a counterfeit blog by a counterfeit student to try to get across the message that “counterfeiting is bad.” Well, actually, to clarify, the message that was supposed to get across was: counterfeiting brand name products is bad — creating a counterfeit blog pretending to get that message across is so wonderful that the IACC even bragged about it (pdf) on its website.

The more details you read, the worse the story gets. The head of the department basically forced an untenured professor who had no knowledge of marketing or PR (he taught computer graphics) into leading the course, and it was made clear to him that he had no ability to question the “curriculum” that the IACC gave him. There appeared to be no questioning of the ethics of creating a fake student with a fake story about a lost brand name bag. To get attention for the blog, the students created posters and flyers they hung around campus promising a $500 reward for the return of the non-existent bag. Of course, the blog posts on the fake blog then told the story of how someone gave back the bag and got the reward… only to discover that the bag was counterfeit.

There are a ton of ethical questions raised by this, from pushing the students to lie to pressuring an unqualified professor to lead this class to taking curriculum notes from an industry association. Even worse, the lesson the students got out of the class (while being exactly what the IACC wanted) aren’t true. The IACC proudly reports that students gave feedback like the following:

“In this class, I have learned that counterfeiting entails a whole lot more than I ever could have imagined.”

“I’ve learned that counterfeiting is a lot more widespread than I had originally thought.”

“I was definitely one of those people that didn’t really think counterfeiting was a big deal.”

Of course, there’s just one problem: studies by both the GAO and the OECD have both shown that counterfeiting really isn’t that big a problem and that the industry regularly exaggerates the problem. Of course, the students in the class probably didn’t get to see either of those reports — both of which would seem rather relevant to a class on counterfeiting. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Anti-counterfeiting lobbyists last year somehow convinced the Toronto Star to write an entire advertorial section masquerading as news reporting about how awful counterfeiting was. So, perhaps they figured if they can trick an entire editorial staff into parroting its message, why not a college class as well?

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Comments on “Anti-Counterfeiting Group Has Students Create Counterfeit Blog To Explain Why Counterfeiting Is Bad”

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Chronno S. Trigger says:

Let me get this strait

They created a fake blog about some fake person who lost a fake bag and offered a fake reward of $500 and got back a fake, fake bag? And it turns out that it was forced upon a teacher who doesn’t actually know about the lessen that turned out to be a fake lesson anyways?

I’m assuming that this is about one of those bags that normally cost several thousand dollars. Unless I’m mistaken, copying a bag isn’t counterfeiting its a knock off. They don’t have copyright protection.

I really hope that the BS alarm (as P&T put it) was going off in those kids heads. I don’t see how this could teach anyone anything about counterfeiting. All I can see this teaching is not to lose a fake bag. Or maybe not bring it into school in the first place.

JS Beckerist (profile) says:

Re: Let me get this strait

It takes a pretty brave OR intelligent (most likely both) student to REALLY challenge their teacher. Unfortunately from a young age we’re taught to accept what is given to us and to basically repeat what we’re told. I’m scared to think about the impact this had on these students and even more scared to think that it will only perpetuate without intervention.

Sandoz says:

If Heidi wishes extra hard, she can be a reel gurl

Well Mike your tone was in no way bias. I applaude you for that.

See, that is kind of the point, a tech blog is an appropriate place for opinions. The IACC ought to confine their opinions to a blog of their own, but they don’t because no one wants to read their boring self-congratulatory tripe. What grosses me out is that Heidi Cee’s mindless preoccupation with that ugly ass shmata obviously had some ring of authenticity to it. I really wish people were not so ready to believe that someone could be that tasteless and narcissistic but I guess we live in a post “The Hills” apocalypse.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am constantly worried about buying counterfeit Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream. It’s a serious problem these days. Oh Chunky Monkey, Rocky Road… How I want to observe the rich and fullness of your unhampered, genuine, rich, thick, creamy flavor. Oh, how I sometimes spend hours at the grocery store observing the glue edges on the pint containers of ice cream, looking for imperfections that would be tell-tale signs of Chinese knockoffs.

Oh woe is me, should you be filled with a counterfeit product! Woe to you should the packaging not show it!

Woe to the problem, if you are a fallacy of Ben, or a fallacy of Jerry as the fastest jet in the world could get you to the lab for testing of your creamy goodness before melting in the hot, desert sun- for the only lab I trust is that in Las Vegas, on a show called CSI.

George Kearse says:

do your homework get your facts right

“Of course, there’s just one problem: studies by both the GAO and the OECD have both shown that counterfeiting really isn’t that big a problem and that the industry regularly exaggerates the problem.”

Your head is stuck in the sand my friend.

Here are the facts, not the bullshit …

WCO publishes its three Annual Reports on Drugs, Tobacco and IPR 2009 (2010 will be published June 2011)

OECD Project on Counterfeiting and Piracy includes link to the latest update November 2009 and checkout the link at the end The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy

Do your homework to know what counterfeiting is all about. It’s about financing organized crime, terrorism and other extreme organizations.

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