NYC bill would criminalize buying knockoff goods
Wall Street Journal Online, April 27, 2011

NEW YORK — A city lawmaker said Tuesday she’ll introduce a bill to criminalize the purchase of counterfeit designer goods including handbags and watches.

The bill proposed by City Councilwoman Margaret Chin would impose penalties of up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine for buying knockoffs.

It is already illegal to sell fake designer goods, but Susan Scafidi, head of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, said that if Chin’s bill passes New York would be the first U.S. city to criminalize their purchase.

Scafidi said France and Italy have passed laws against buying counterfeits and have succeeded in curbing their sale.

“We’ve known for a long time that demand drives sales, especially when combined with the unfortunately exciting experience of an illicit transaction on Canal Street, but New York City has previously been reluctant to arrest guests in the city,” Scafidi said. “Now, the cheap tourist thrill of buying a fake bag may come with free accommodations — behind bars.”