New laws in New York are looking to put a major dent in the boomingÂ business of selling fake handbags and even Rolex watches on CanalÂ Street.
If a proposed bill passes the City Council anyone caughtÂ buying a bootleg can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to aÂ year in prison.
Council member Margaret Chin, who introduced the bill, said at aÂ public hearing Thursday that counterfeits deprive the city of at leastÂ $1 billion in tax revenue a year that could support communityÂ improvements. Whatâ€™s more, she says, the counterfeit trade has beenÂ linked to child labor and the funding of organized crime and terrorÂ groups. Â â€For tourists, itâ€™s fun, itâ€™s a bit of adventure,â€ Chin says.Â â€We have to let people know that if you engage in this activity youÂ are committing a crime.â€
Ashley Hunter, 30, of Kewshaw, S.C., shopping in the area, asks, â€œHowÂ would I know Iâ€™m not supposed to buy something, that thereâ€™s a fine?â€Â Melissa Kirkpatrick, of Salt Lake City, Utah, wasnâ€™t too concernedÂ about the legality of the items selling on Canal Street, where she wasÂ with her family. She was looking for a Rolex for a friend at home. â€œIfÂ I can buy it for $50, I will, real or fake,â€ she says.
If that seems harsh to you, consider that in France possessing aÂ counterfeit item can result in up to 3 years in prison and up to aÂ $478,000 fine. Â Now let us know your thoughts on this new legislation.