PolitiFact Trashes Lamar Smith: Says His Claims About Economic Impact Of Piracy Are Flat Out False

from the fact-checking dept

We've pointed out before that Lamar Smith based his entire argument for why SOPA was needed on misleading or simply incorrect claims -- but who are we to say that? Thankfully, it appears that the professional fact checkers are in agreement that Smith's argument for SOPA isn't based in reality. The famed PolitiFact fact checking operation has completely dismantled Smith's claim that "illegal counterfeiting and piracy costs the US economy $100 billion every year."

It turns out (as we've pointed out) there's nothing true about that statement. PolitiFact tracks down the key points on which Smith bases this claim, noting that it's a Chamber of Commerce report that says, "the U.S. consumption-based share of counterfeit and pirated goods is between $66 billion and $100 billion." Smith, obviously, just takes that higher number (already a questionable move), and insists that's the "harm." But, as PolitiFact points out, that's not what the report actually says.

In fact, the report flat out states that it "has not attempted to estimate business losses associated with counterfeiting and piracy." So to pretend that's what the report says is, well, lying.

PolitiFact checks in with a number of experts -- including someone from the Chamber of Commerce who produced the report -- who admits that it's simply not true to say that $100 billion is the cost to the economy. Add everything up, and PolitiFact says that Smith is being anything but truthful in his claims:
Smith’s statement draws on a high-end estimate also based on flawed assumptions for the U.S. "consumption-based share of counterfeit and pirated goods" in 2008. The cited $100 billion figure doesn’t reflect the costs to the economy, contrary to Smith’s claim; the 2011 study did not assess such costs, which are understandably slippery.

Maybe there is no solid estimate of the cost to the economy. Smith’s CNN.com statement rates False.
Unfortunately, there still doesn't appear to be any punishment for trying to pass a really bad bill by using misleading stats, other than public ridicule.

Filed Under: fact checking, facts, lamar smith, piracy, sopa

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  1. identicon
    The Moondoggie, 7 Feb 2012 @ 6:47pm

    Fine, fine....

    There should be a fine for false high-end estimates. Lamar Smith seems to be a very incompetent public servant if he usually pull this kind of stunts.

    Who let this guy graduate college again?

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