NPR�s Counterfeit Reporting on China

NPR ran a piece this morning on �counterfeiting� in China. (Anyone who heard the story knows that NPR disapproves of the practice being discussed, but the term that neutral reporters use is �unauthorized copying.�)

The segment included no economic analysis of the practice, which would point out many of the benefits of unauthorized copies. The segment included no discussion of the relative quality of the authorized copies. Nor did the segment even clarify the extent to which the unauthorized copies are genuinely counterfeit products. (The goods are only genuine counterfeits if the consumers believe that they are buying the brand whose products are being copies.)

A serious report on unauthorized copying would discuss such issues, pointing out that unauthorized copying can provide enormous economic gains. If the brand product sells at 5 or 10 times the price of the copy, then the economic harm of eliminating the unauthorized copies is the same as imposing tariffs of 500 or 1000 percent, and the good free-traders at NPR know how harmful tariffs can be.

--Dean Baker

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