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If a proposed New York City bill passes, customers caught buying counterfeit goods on the street could face up to a year in jail and a fine. Is that penalty fair?

ABC News U.S. 2013/06/18 12:00:00
Related Topics: New York City, Counterfeit
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New York City lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal to buy a fake Rolex watch or Prada handbag from a street vendor.



A City Council hearing has started on the legislation. If it passes, buyers of counterfeit goods could be jailed for up to one year or fined $1,000.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said Thursday that a year in jail "seems a little tough" for buying fake goods. He says buying a counterfeit item should be a violation, not a misdemeanor.

But Councilwoman Margaret Chin says nothing done so far has worked to curb the selling of fakes. Chin is the sponsor of the bill. Her district includes Manhattan's Chinatown, where many of the vendors of counterfeits are based.

Read More: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/nyc-debates...

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Top Opinion

  • Wulfdane 2013/06/18 17:40:29 (edited)
    No
    Wulfdane
    +32
    Most fakes are so good, you would need to be an expert to tell the difference and that is why crooks target unsuspecting consumers. It is unrealistic to expect the average consumer to know the difference.

    But this issue shines a light on a much bigger problem.

    Why in the hell is the answer for every wrong jail? Why must America become one large penitentiary? For a country that espouses freedom, we incarcerate more our citizens (per capita) than any other country on Earth and most of those incarcerations are for non-violent offenses.

    Jail is not and should not be the answer for every wrong, it is costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes and accomplishes nothing but feed an ever growing bureaucracy.

    It is time to change our way of thinking and stop this mass incarnation of our citizens.

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  • MisterOriginal 2013/07/13 09:07:51
    No
    MisterOriginal
    It's not the buyer who should be punished.
  • JoLost 2013/06/22 06:23:42 (edited)
    No
    JoLost
    Corporate masters have spoken....



    How would you know?



    Rodex and Praga isnt Rolex and Prada.



    Sounds like Jerry Springer Capitalism to me. Nothing liberal about locking up people who unwittingly buy fake corporate imported products infringing on the non-fake stockholders, designers and corporate profits managed on Wall Street and then incarcerating them in one of several Corrections Corporations of America's many for profit corporate prison facilities at tax payers expense..... Chin is not a Liberal, nor a moderate, she is a far right corporate wing nut who ran on the democratic ticket.

    (The people of New York State can & should put this ridiculous "bill/law" on the general ballot and vote it out and even forbid the prosecution of "buyers" participating in the free market of supply and demand.)

    Law enforcement should be focusing removing these venders of illegal wares from Manhattans Chinatown, where many of the vendors of counterfeits are based.
  • Prophet 2013/06/21 17:46:51
    No
    Prophet
    NO! First of all no one is going to go to jail. Everyone will pay the fine. This is just another good way to extort money out of the people by liberal democrats who always have their hands in everybody's pockets to fill their own.
  • Marie 2013/06/21 12:54:24
    No
    Marie
    A fine is enough!
  • Tattoo Nana 2013/06/21 04:12:47
    No
    Tattoo Nana
    +1
    Well how could this possibly be fair to arrest and jail someone for making a purchase in good faith. I can see perhaps having to give the item to the police, but what about the money the buyer is out? I would think that tourists would be target buyers as they are on vacation and have souvenir money to burn. And in many cases, the buyer and the item are going to be long gone before authorities can catch up. Unless the police have undercover's working around the street vendors.

    I still maintain that the one buying the stolen item is innocent. Unless the items are being marketed as stolen goods being sold for super low prices, how would you know.
  • crazygoose16 2013/06/21 01:36:09
    No
    crazygoose16
    +1
    No. not at all. First of all, those vendors do everything in their power to convince you that it's real. It's so real, that you wouldn't be able to tell. Second of all, you're wasting all of this time and money on people who should not be put in jail. The focus needs to be put on real criminals.
  • Lady Serena 2013/06/20 23:45:33
    No
    Lady Serena
    +1
    Especially if you either don't know (honestly and for some reason) or truly can't afford the real version. And besides, artists "counterfeit" other artists' songs but no one is arresting them so what's the point lol
  • Allie May 2013/06/20 21:49:36
    No
    Allie May
    +2
    What if they are fooled? That's not fair.
  • blue 2013/06/20 20:23:54
    No
    blue
    +2
    So-called "luxury" or "aspirational" companies (you know, the ones who charge $8,000 for a handbag) should realize that no member of the general public is going to shell out for the ridiculously overpriced items they're giving away free to celebrities. Counterfeits publicize and popularize the brand by getting it out among the populace in a way authentic items never could, because the percentage of population both stupid enough and capable of buying them is so small. Instead of punishing buyers of counterfeit items, companies should be offering them compensation for free advertising. Using a fake item is no worse than wearing a sticker advertising the brand. The person using a fake is either never going to buy the fake anyway, or will if//when they have the money, depending on how foolishly they spend.
  • fairiefang -annoying fashio... 2013/06/20 20:05:22
    No
    fairiefang -annoying fashion snobs everywhere-
    +1
    I don't see what's wrong with buying the fake stuff...
  • Colbert 2013/06/20 19:13:52
    No
    Colbert
    +3
    F*CK BIG BUSINESS
  • onetirednurse 2013/06/20 18:36:16
    No
    onetirednurse
    +2
    I guess NY has a lot of vacancy in their prisons since they want to lock people up for frivolous reasons. I personally wouldn't know if an item is fake. If I were going to buy something from a street vendor it would be because I think its cute, not because it looks like an $8,000 handbag. Im not really into high fashion, I'm into comfort. I guess NYC is now crossed off my list of places to visit on vacation, I don't want to get thrown in jail for buying the wrong thing.
  • Gwen 2013/06/20 17:54:30
    No
    Gwen
    +2
    as in arrest the prostitute...but ignore the pimp?


    another lame Democratic idea.
  • PattyM 2013/06/20 17:22:09
    No
    PattyM
    +3
    No. For one thing its not always clear that an item is fake. It can be difficult to be sure that something is legitimate.

    Also, the fine is far too high.
  • Blueskys 2013/06/20 15:09:36
    No
    Blueskys
    +1
    It not MY job to police the retailers.
    My job is to buy what I need in a legal manner and use it.
  • Kirby 2013/06/20 11:28:26
    No
    Kirby
    +4
    I will never darken the state line of New York! This state is the epitome of a NANNY STATE! Here's a novel idea maybe have undercover police arrest those people selling counterfeit goods!
  • zionosphere 2013/06/20 08:27:05
    No
    zionosphere
    +3
    We can't have poor people going around wearing knockoffs of over-priced status items now, can we? Imagine going out and seeing a waitress or soccer mom with the same $8000 Prada handbag? Talk about embarrassing.

    Better send the offending peasants to the prison-industrial complex where they will be put to work, perhaps making authentic designer fashion items for the well-dressed upper class.

    .
  • TheBorg 2013/06/20 07:26:47
  • Blueskys TheBorg 2013/06/20 15:20:16
    Blueskys
    +1
    I just thought high heels made women look elegant and enhances subtly their feminine look.
    I don't force anyone to wear them, or suggest it.
  • Allie May Blueskys 2013/06/20 21:54:19 (edited)
    Allie May
    +1
    Oh, Blueskys', you are too thoughtful and insightful... It is much easier to label women whores! The sad fact that the above commentator won't admit to is that we are all whores in one way or another..
  • Blueskys Allie May 2013/06/21 21:40:37
    Blueskys
    +1
    Thank you Allie your a cool lady. I would say we are all Mercenary, we do 'it' for the money. Whatever it is we do. Less dramatic and more truthful than "Whore".
    I appreciate real women, and their real qualities, and enjoy their real presence in my environment. I will be careful to take no counterfeits!
  • gidianedwards97 2013/06/20 05:55:23
    No
    gidianedwards97
    +1
    to harsh un fair
  • Proggy 2013/06/20 05:18:37
    No
    Proggy
    Why is they're always going after the end user instead of the manufacturers? This is retarded.
  • whipnet 2013/06/20 04:50:08
    No
    whipnet
    +3
    So how much would it cost to house me in jail for one year for buying a bootleg DVD for $2.99?

    *
  • Tattoo ... whipnet 2013/06/21 04:17:52
    Tattoo Nana
    +1
    THAT is an excellent point...
  • Whale Vomitt 2013/06/20 00:32:05
    No
    Whale Vomitt
    +2
    I think the law should be against those selling counterfeit stuff. I don't mind knock offs, and think that they can be great....if you sell them AS a "tribute" product. Just don't try to pass it off as genuine stuff.
  • Jdawg 2013/06/19 23:51:53
  • Cookie Monster 2013/06/19 21:04:36 (edited)
  • Tattoo ... Cookie ... 2013/06/21 04:22:45
    Tattoo Nana
    +1
    Exactly, how are we supposed to know. Maybe NYC is also going to force all shoppers to where special goggles that will expose counterfeits, yes, that would make the best sense. I mean really - if I want to buy a Prada bag at a kick ass price and I'm standing at a kiosk with a guy selling them, well by golly miss molly - i'm gonna buy it :)
  • charles nelson 2013/06/19 20:59:27
    No
    charles nelson
    +1
    How about stickin with buyin stolen goods first.
  • cocktailsquid 2013/06/19 20:40:14
    No
    cocktailsquid
    +4
    First, the legal and prison system in NY is clogged enough as it is; without giving year sentences to every Schmo who buys something at a stand on the street. Second, I'd say that at least half the people that buy things don't even know that what they are buying is a counterfeit good. Yes, some people go, "Oh, look at this cheap knock off Louis Vuitton handbag! It looks real! I'm grabbing this at $50!" Yet more go, "Hey look! This is a pretty handbag! It looks like it's worth $50!". It's really a waste of police, court, and jail. Focus on the people selling and making the products. Arresting some tourist who doesn't have a clue what is going on that buys a pair of knock off sunglasses isn't going to change anything.
  • Tattoo ... cocktai... 2013/06/21 04:27:20
    Tattoo Nana
    +1
    Most excellent point regarding the horridly over-full jail system. Anyone who watches Law and Order knows that Rikers is way over-full so it does make a LOT of sense to me to jail all the tourists you can catch who PURCHASED WITH MONEY SOMETHING THEY HAD NO IDEA WAS STOLEN. This is just so ridiculous. Just think, someone buys a stolen pair of shoes and is arrested and put in jail. I can only imagine that this is NOT going to be a cost effective plan. Just DUMB.
  • yabbadabbadoo 2013/06/19 20:30:57
    No
    yabbadabbadoo
    +3
    isnt it all the same? it all comes from china, india, peru, thailand, etc
  • Maleficent 2013/06/19 20:15:00
    No
    Maleficent
    +1
    no not if it isn't the buyer's fault and their not doing it on purpose. the seller is the one who should be jailed.
  • Michelle 2013/06/19 20:02:49
    No
    Michelle
    +1
    Not unknowingly, certainly. A year in jail is certainly a lot for such a thing. Then again, "up to" means that it's the maximum penalty. The real question is what the minimum penalty will be.

    Furthermore... isn't it better dealt with by dealing with the counterfeit dealers?
  • Tattoo ... Michelle 2013/06/21 04:28:15
    Tattoo Nana
    Exactly, arrest the SOURCE, leave the vacationers alone.
  • Jess 2013/06/19 19:50:06
    No
    Jess
    +1
    If the person doesn't know it's a conterfeit, then why should they get punished for it?
  • Jesse 2013/06/19 18:51:44
    No
    Jesse
    +1
    No, the people selling them should be. if the court can prove they knew they were fakes.
  • celticsting 2013/06/19 18:38:41
    No
    celticsting
    +2
    never know these days if something is genuine or not
  • exhon2009 2013/06/19 17:34:09
    No
    exhon2009
    +2
    Not unless you knowingly buy them for resale.
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