Washington – A new report from the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) requested by Congress last year found that piracy and counterfeiting
have a negative effect on the U.S. economy, but called into question the
methodology used in some entertainment industry-funded research to arrive at their
dire forecasts, and even found some research that indicated "potential
positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy."

widely cited U.S.
government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be
substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies," the GAO said in
its report.

"Each method (of measuring) has limitations, and most experts
observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide

The report also found that "consumers may use pirated goods
to ‘sample’ music, movies, software, or electronic games before purchasing
legitimate copies," potentially leading to "increased sales of
legitimate goods."

Representatives from the motion picture and recording
industries deflected or brushed off the GAO’s questioning of their funded research.

"The GAO study confirms that piracy of all sorts is rampant," a
spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) told CNET "Getting a firm handle on the problem in terms of dollar
estimates is complicated."

"There’s no doubt that the music industry
has declined significantly over the last 10 years," Recording Industry of
American spokesman Jonathan Lamy told CNET.

"Countless studies have blamed
this on the fact that millions of people have been getting their music for free
online. That has translated to thousands of lost jobs in the industry and
that’s undeniable."


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