Ars Technica did an in-depth investigation into the numbers behind the war against piracy and found that Congress might as well be telling people counterfeit goods cost the economy eleventy billion zillion, for all the truth behind its figures. The oft invoked $US250 billion and 750,000 jobs lost because of intellectual property theft have been repeated for over a decade, with virtually no research to back it up.
It's not just industry groups like the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition that's quoting them either. Everyone from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Patent and Trademark Office to the FBI will repeat the same numbers back at you, pointing evasively to each other when asked which body funded the extensive economic analysis needed to arrive at such figures.
Ars pointed out that, even without looking for their sources, the numbers don't make much sense. 750,000 would mean 8% of all unemployed people in the U.S. lost their jobs to counterfeiting. $US250 billion is more than the combined 2005 domestic revenues of the movie, music, software and video game industries. Yet policies are made from this information every day. [Ars Technica]