Reporting Hazel Sanchez
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Knock off the knockoffs, or we’ll send the fashion police after you.
That’s the message City Councilwoman Margaret Chin wants to send. Chin plans to introduce a bill making it illegal to purchase counterfeit designer merchandise. Violators could face a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
“If they buy it from the back of a van or a back alley or some hidden basement somewhere, they know they’re buying counterfeit goods,” Chin said.
“I think it’s good – all those knockoffs are hurting the real brand,” James Mei told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez.
Chin is reportedly fed up with tourists heading to her district – Chinatown – in search of the cheap imitations. Chin says the counterfeiters flaunt child labor laws and the funds may support other nefarious activities.
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The underground economy’s main outpost operates along Canal Street in the shadow of legitimate stores that sell generic handbangs, t-shirts and trinkets.
Some tourists and residents were skeptical of the proposal.
“It’s crazy, it’ll chase away all the customers and scare all the tourists from coming down here,” he said. “If you’re going to stop it, you have to stop the seller.”
“I thought this country was a free country, you can do whatever you want, and I go to jail because I buy a fake bag? That’s stupid,” Cintyha Tape said.
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If the bill passes – it already has a number of co-sponsors – signs would be posted throughout the area warning shoppers of the new rule.
“If we start cutting the demand, ultimately we will cut the supply,” Chin said.
“Sometimes people think they’re buying the real deal, and it turns up to be a knockoff. What are you going to do in cases like that?” Danielle James said.
“When you’ve got a lot of tourists, like you do in New York City, then it’s a bit harsh,” tourist Robyn Langley said.
The new bill targeting buyers of counterfeit goods is set to be introduced before the city council on Thursday.
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