Canadian consumers doubt many of the established facts about the size and economic impact of counterfeit and pirated goods.
This is one of many findings in the Consumers Council of Canada research report Consumer Attitudes and Their Role in Reducing the Impact of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods and Services released earlier this summer.
The study gathered information through multiple means, including six telephone focus groups across Canada. In these focus group discussions, consumers were presented with a number of reliably-sourced statistics on the monetary, job loss, health and safety issues, involvement of organized crime and terrorist organizations on counterfeit goods. These included estimates that the worldwide value of counterfeit goods trade could reach $991 billion by 2020, and that worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines could top US$75 billion this year.
Participants commonly disputed many of the presented facts. This response left researchers “somewhat surprised by the degree of skepticism from focus group members who questioned the motives for and accuracy of, the information.”
Among the commonly cited responses from the focus group participants were:
• the statistics were likely exaggerated to provide shock effect
• doubt that the stated job losses were real, or whether it was simply a switch among low-skilled labour jobs
• counterclaims that “non-counterfeit” manufacturers did not have sterling records for providing quality jobs or avoiding child labour.
• stating that connections between terrorists and counterfeits was an unsubstantiated “pile on” to instill fear
• noting that organized crime is gaining a foothold in legitimate businesses as well, and that many legitimate businesses also sideline in selling counterfeit and printed goods
The report evaluated many attitudes and assumptions consumers have about counterfeit and pirated goods, their expectations of government and business to solve the problem, and what they think they need as tools to protect themselves in an environment that is difficult to police. It concluded that Canadian consumers find it difficult to identify the perils of counterfeit goods and pirated media, and that industry intellectual property protection campaigns don’t help them.