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Program Illicit: The Dark Trade

  • 1. Learn about counterfeiting and piracy.
    The global economy depends on the creation and distribution of intellectual property (IP) to grow. But more and more, the economy suffers from IP theft, or counterfeiting and piracy. As global trade increases and technology advances, fake products such as clothing and accessories, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, software, music, films, and everything in between are making their way to markets around the world. Do you own any?

    2. Analyze a map of counterfeiting and piracy.
    Think like a geographer! Use your geographic skills to analyze a map of the illegal trade problem. Go to the Live Counterfeiting Seizure Map for 2010. Look at the legend, which breaks down the types of goods that were seized. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is there a pattern? What is it?
    • Does the trade in counterfeit goods impact specific countries or regions? How?
    • What do you think about the role and meaning of intellectual property in a world where information is instantly and equally accessible across the globe?
    • How does piracy and/or counterfeiting impact you directly?
    • Would you purchase counterfeit and/or pirated products? Why or why not?
    • Would you download pirated movies or music? Why or why not?
    • If people stopped buying fake products, would people stop selling them because there would be no profit?
    • What do you think should be done to stop counterfeiting and piracy?

    If time allows, look back at the maps of previous years to see what has changed.

    3. Write about counterfeiting and piracy by creating a campaign against them.
    Familiarize yourself with the Illicit website. Then develop a campaign against counterfeiting and piracy. Do the following:

    • Create a list of the top ten reasons people should not buy counterfeit or pirated products.
    • Develop a slogan that captures your anti-piracy and counterfeiting message in one easy-to-remember phrase.
    • Write an article on the economic or consumer health and safety threats of counterfeiting and piracy.
    • Translate what you’ve learned about counterfeiting and piracy into a fact sheet alerting others to the problem. Add graphics for impact.
  • Materials You Provide

    • Drawing paper
    • Pencils
    • Pens

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
    • Plug-Ins: Flash

    Recommended Prior Activities

    • None
  • Background Information

    In today’s global marketplace, intellectual property (IP) is important. Under IP laws, creations of the mind—such as inventions, songs, stories, or logos—are considered assets just like one’s home or car. Thieves steal this property from individuals and manufacture billions of dollars worth of counterfeit merchandise. Nearly every industry, from software to toys to pharmaceuticals, is being affected.


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    intellectual property Noun

    material created by creative thought that is protected by trademark or copyright.

    piracy Noun

    illegal use or reproduction of a copyrighted work of art or intellectual property.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce