Ghost Data, the data analysis and AI analytics firm, last month released a report entitled "Instagram and counterfeiting in 2019: new features, old problems". You can read the entire report here.
As the manufacturing quality of counterfeit products has improved, so too has their accessibility. There are two main types of counterfeit product consumer: the witting and the unwitting. Once upon a time those actively seeking out counterfeit products would do so in a seedy backroom of a shop selling legitimate items, down a dark and dingy alleyway, or on a boardwalk where those hawking their wares were quite obviously not licensed Ray Ban resellers. Nowadays the process is much less risky for the consumer, and so more people are being drawn in by the allure of brand-name goods at too-good-to-be-true prices.
Ghost Data's report notes that Instagram has become the most prominent marketplace and marketing tool for counterfeit products. The hashtag #MirrorQuality is in widespread use and denotes a counterfeit item that has similar or identical manufacturing quality to the much more expensive original. The report goes on to explain that Instagram is saturated with fake luxury goods contributing to the "multi-billion dollar underground economy". I question whether the black market trade of counterfeit goods is truly "underground" at all anymore, especially given the forthright approach to selling. There is no pretence here: these counterfeits are not marketed at the unwitting consumer.
Given the sophisticated search techniques employed in the data-gathering process, the report was able to determine that so far this year more than 65 million posts and 6 million Stories have been posted dedicated to the sale or purchase or marketing of fakes.
Somewhat unsurprisingly the highest of high fashion brands were the most targeted by counterfeiters. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci accounted for over 50% of the posts analysed. While Instagram has said that it takes the issue of counterfeiting "seriously", it is currently down rights-holders to strategically assert and enforce their rights until such time as the host sites, regulatory bodies, or national governments take more effective action to quell the tides. Whether regulation can be implemented effectively without also stifling creativity remains to be seen.
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in: Copyright, Designs, Passing Off