US Government Study: Piracy Statistics Unreliable

We have seen much pressure over the years for governments to enact tougher laws for piracy and counterfeiting – often based on statistics that lead to conclusions that billions of dollars are being lost because of it.

It leads to questionable things like three strikes laws, the Digital Economy Bill, and the ACTA treaty discussions. Many people have questioned the statistics, and the conclusions based on them.

The US government accountability office (GAO) just released a report that concludes that while the problems are real, “Three widely cited U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies”. Also that assumptions are used to compensate for the lack of data.

For more commentary on this issue, see the reactions of Mike Masnick and Michael Geist.

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