This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page.

Program Illicit: The Dark Trade

  • Tips & Modifications


    If possible, have students put their campaign ideas into a PowerPoint or other presentation format that will be presented to the rest of the class.

    1. Introduce the concepts of counterfeiting and piracy.
    Explain to students that counterfeiting and piracy are both infringements on intellectual property. Counterfeiting is the production of fakes that are intended to deceive or carry the appearance of being genuine. Piracy is the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of electronic or audio-visual media. Tell students that counterfeiting and piracy are intellectual property crimes with serious threats to business, consumers, government, and the global economy. Ask: Why would these intellectual property crimes threaten these groups?

    2. Have students make connections between these crimes and their own lives.
    Ask the following questions:

    • By a raise of hands, how many of you have ever bought a counterfeit product, such as a purse or clothes, or downloaded music illegally?
    • Did you know it was illegal?
    • Does it matter whether you buy the real thing or a fake? Why or why not?
    • Should someone be able to “own” an idea? An invention? A song? A design?
    • What rights should the person have who came up with the idea?
    • What protections should there be for original ideas?


    3. Describe the impact of these crimes to the U.S. and world economies.
    Tell students that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy approximately $200–$250 billion per year, and the world economy approximately $650 billion per year. Elicit from students that this is only possible if these crimes affect nearly every industry, and if consumers are knowingly purchasing the counterfeit or pirated products.

    4. Divide the class into small groups and distribute assignments.
    Divide the class into five small groups and assign each group one of the following industries:
    •    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    •    Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
    •    The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
    •    The Motion Picture Association
    •    The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

    5. Introduce the activity.
    Give small groups time to research their respective industry by going to its website on the Internet and doing the following:
    •    making a list of the ways counterfeiters and pirates might work in their industry
    •    creating a public awareness campaign to inform others about it and suggest ways to fight it
    •    brainstorming a way to get the message across, such as a TV ad campaign, building a website, launching a blimp, or running a contest

    6. Have groups present their campaigns.
    Have each group present their campaign to the class. Presentations should be approximately ten minutes each.

    Extending the Learning

    If possible, have students watch the National Geographic film Illicit: The Dark Trade. An excerpt of the film is provided in this activity. Go to the PBS website to find out where you can get the full DVD.

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • make connections to their own lives
    • describe the impact of the crimes on the U.S. and world economies
    • create and present a public awareness campaign

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Discussions
    • Hands-on learning

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 11:  The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface
    • Standard 16:  The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

    Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics

    • Standard 10: Role of Economic Institutions:  Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit organizations are examples of important institutions. A different kind of institution, clearly defined and enforced property rights, is essential to a market economy.
  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    • Paper
    • Pencils
    • Pens

    Required Technology

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

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    • Small-group instruction
  • 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.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None

    Recommended Prior Activities

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    counterfeit Verb

    to make a false or imitation version of a product.

    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.

    For Further Exploration



U.S. Chamber of Commerce