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Piracy losses disputed

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SCOTT JAGOW: The piracy of DVDs, handbags, clothes and other products costs companies hundreds of billions of dollars a year. But just how many hundreds of billions? A new report says the numbers are greatly exaggerated. This comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard has more from London. Stephen, what’s the deal here?

STEPHEN BEARD: We’re talking here about the amount that companies lose in sales overseas because people are ripping off their products. That figure according to the OECD is $200 billion a year. Business lobby groups on the other hand had estimated losses up to three times as much: $600 billion a year.

JAGOW: So is the OECD accusing the industry of fudging the numbers on purpose?

BEARD: No absolutely not, but that clearly is the implication isn’t it? And it certainly is embarrassing for these business lobby groups because they have bandied this higher figure around and as a result have been able to drive this issue up the political agenda.

JAGOW: But if it’s $200 billion or $600 billion, to most people what’s the difference? It’s still hundreds of billions of dollars in stolen goods.

BEARD: Indeed, and as you stay it is still theft. And in fact the OECD says we are not in any way trying to minimize this. It is a serious problem and it is growing at an alarming rate.

JAGOW: Have we gotten any response from the industry groups?

BEARD: Yes, there’s one in particular, the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, they actually, that group estimates that losses are even higher — they put losses at $1 trillion — and has expressed the concern that this is actually going to be counterproductive. This is going to take the heat off countries like China.

JAGOW: Hm. Alright Stephen Beard in London, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

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