The Bootleg Beatles (and Beasties, and…)

The latest press release from the BPI has landed on my desk, and there are some worrying figures in there: piracy – proper piracy, not file sharing – in the UK grew by 13% last year, netting around 56 million pounds for the perpetrators.

It ties in with a feature I’ve been doing for PC Plus about the global counterfeiting trade, and while a lot of the anti-counterfeit groups’ claims are questionable (the link between counterfeiting and terrorism, which is the subject of a current UK poster campaign, is tenuous to say the least) there’s no doubt that making fake goods is big business for organised crime.

There’s an irony here: in a world where we’re all urged to boycott sweat shops, drink fair trade coffee and the like, we still see counterfeiting as a way of getting back at big corporations. However, while it’s seen as a victimless crime it’s anything but: the stats I’ve been looking at suggest it displaces 200,000 jobs worldwide, and the people behind it don’t give a toss about providing safe or even civilised working conditions for the people they employ. Reading through endless descriptions of people blinded by fake vodka and whisky, kids harmed by dangerous toys and severe skin reactions resulting from the crap that goes into some fake printer ink cartridges, it’s difficult to see the counterfeiters as the modern day Robin Hoods they often claim to be.