1G fine for fake? Get real!Susan Scafidi April 27, 2011
By REBECCA ROSENBERG, SALLY GOLDENBERG and DAN MANGAN
New York women strongly disagree about whether anyone should buy fake designer handbags or only pay full price for the real deal -- but they overwhelmingly blasted a proposed new law that would slap fines of up to a whopping $1,000 on people who buy counterfeits.
"I don't think it's a big deal to sell knockoff bags," sniffed Morgan Mikulaschek, 19, a student who lives on the Upper West Side, as she toted around a fake Fendi that she bought for $40.
"If they were selling real bags illegally, that's one thing, but they're fake -- so who cares?" Mikulaschek said
"I don't think the designers are hurt from it. Their regular customers aren't going to go down to Canal Street to look for fakes."
Jocelyn Rustemeyer, 23, said she prefers the real, $800 Louis Vuitton she was lugging around, but also copped to owning a counterfeit Coach for which she paid $20 several years ago.
"I think the fine is ridiculous," said Rustemeyer, a Greenwich Village real-estate agent. "People buying fakes obviously can't afford a $1,000 fine."
Even ladies who would never be caught dead with a knockoff pooh-poohed Councilwoman Margaret Chin's proposal to issue fines of up to $1,000 -- and a jail term of up to a year -- for counterfeit-buying customers, many of whom cram her Chinatown district daily.
Graduate student Danielle Bass, 28, of the Upper West Side, defended her $1,400 purchase of an authentic Tod's bag even as she blasted the proposed fine.
"It's upsetting to buy purses and see fake versions of them. If I'm going to wear designers, I'm not going to be cheap about it. When I buy bags, I make sure there aren't fake versions of them. This bag was worth the price," Bass said.
"But I think the fine is too harsh. You can't fine someone for liking a bag and not wanting to spend a lot of money for it."
Fordham Law Professor Susan Scafidi said that if Chin's bill passes, it would put the Big Apple on par with France and Italy, where buyers of counterfeits can be fined up to $1,500.
"I absolutely think it could affect the business," said Scafidi, who heads Fordham's Fashion Law Institute. "There are some consumers who will think twice."
Scafidi scoffed at the idea that the law would significantly harm New York's tourism industry.
"People have not stopped going to Paris," she noted.