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August 7, 2006 10:31 PM   Subscribe

That $30 you're trying to win might help you to buy a fake designer handbag, but don't! The profits from counterfeiting have been linked to funding organized crime, drug trafficking and even terrorist activities. For a breakdown of what's being counterfeited these days, how much it costs the US economy and which countries are the leaders in counterfeiting goods, you can find out here.
posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
How do profits from counterfeiting fund organised crime? That statement is a load of nonsensical crap. Orgnaised crime is not a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building secret mountain lairs, it is a for-profit institution. It doesn't need extraneous funding.
posted by wilful at 10:36 PM on August 7, 2006


Oh, and the second para from the article is funny too: "The thing with buying a fake one is you're just buying into a logo. It's just about advertising a logo."

Riiight, the point of spending far far too much on a handbag has nothing to do with logos and advertising.
posted by wilful at 10:38 PM on August 7, 2006


I know it's metafilter, but if we have any more self-reference, this whole site is going to suck itself into a black hole.
posted by blacklite at 10:56 PM on August 7, 2006


"Counterfeit Goods and Piracy Market Value 650 Billion US Dollars" - I wonder whether the values quoted are based on the fantasy math the copyright cartels use. In other words, assume the product would have been purchased if not pirated, or in this case bought in a genuine version if the counterfeit had not been available, and count the full retail price of the genuine version. By this kind of reasoning the RIAA for example regularly announces so-called "losses" approaching national GDP's, while their actual profits remain positive.
posted by jam_pony at 11:17 PM on August 7, 2006


Why give Matt's money to the terrorists when you can give your gf's father's money?

Hey! You wanna buy a watch? Fell off a truck. Genuine Rolex, 50 bucks.
posted by caddis at 11:21 PM on August 7, 2006


How do profits from counterfeiting fund organised crime? That statement is a load of nonsensical crap

What? That sentence makes no sense. Counterfeiting requires organized crime. In the sense that it requires criminals (to do the counterfeiting) and organization (these aren't being hand-made by artisans)

Whether it goes to violent organized mobs or just grey-market producers who thrive under low regulation and enforcement is the question.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2006


Related: There was a thread in another forum about Italian police arresting buyers of counterfeit products as well as the sellers. The dominant reaction in the thread was that it was unfair to expect buyers to know about the brands.

So for example, tourist buys sunglasses with brand label X for $10, and they're fakes in that the real brand X model that they're imitating sells for $150. But the fakes are worth $10 on their intrinsic merits as sunglasses. In the discussion most agreed that it was wrong on the part of the maker to put the false brand label on, and maybe a wrong on the part of the seller if he should have known about the brand details.

But in evaluating the buyer's conduct there was a division. Some said that the buyers were at fault because they were trying to get the "image" or "prestige" value of the brand without paying the market price for it. Others said, if the buyer just liked the style and quality of the sunglasses, and paid what they thought was a fair price for the actual merits of the product, they're doing no wrong and it is unfair to expect them to know which brand is supposed to cost more.

If the differences in actual merit of the product do not fully account for the difference in price, there will be an imitation market. Or equivalently, appearance of fakes is an indication that the style element as distinguished from the actual-quality element is overpriced.
posted by jam_pony at 11:32 PM on August 7, 2006


Luckily, here in the US of A, purchasing or possessing infringing goods by itself is not a crime, unless you have a truckload which might imply an intent to distribute.
posted by caddis at 11:35 PM on August 7, 2006


I get mine direct from the manufacturers in Guangdong Province. They must take real pride in their work, as the bags I've got are well-made foolers. But, oh yeah, I'm sure there's crime and drugs and prostitution and shit wages involved. Life and death stuff. None of that happens here, and certainly nowhere near a Chanel boutique. Their shit don't stink.

More plausible than crime is the notion of fakes and fakery in Chinese Culture. There are forged copies of Chinese art that are merely hundreds of years old instead of thousands. They didn't get it then, and they still don't get it now. The idea that someone can patent an idea---hell, they've even got counterfeit herbal medicine!--is ridiculous to them. The only way the fakes will stop it is if they're officially bribed more to stop counterfeiting than what the fake trade pays. And they're working both sides of that angle right now, too, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, poor Karl Lagerfeld, how will he pay for his next castle? Brush up on your Cantonese, sweetie. That means you too. It's a big world. We haven't branded a fraction of it yet.
posted by eegphalanges at 11:38 PM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Angie Houston, though, doesn't think there's any alternative to buying the real thing. Houston runs a Web site from Los Angeles condemning fake Louis Vuitton products.

I would like to take this opportunity to condemn authentic Louis Vuitton bags, as ugly, overpriced and out-of-fashion.
posted by Titania at 11:53 PM on August 7, 2006


It's pretty much like what my friend says about downloading music, "I'm not causing them a loss, because I never would've bought this pile of shit in the first place."
posted by eegphalanges at 11:58 PM on August 7, 2006


Music is different because there is a party who really deserves a royalty. Unfortunately the artists are already being ripped off by the record companies to much greater degree than the record companies are being ripped off by the file-sharers.

If you download an album and send the musicians a dollar, it will cut out the real pirates and the artists will probably be getting the biggest per-album royalty they've ever received.
posted by jam_pony at 12:05 AM on August 8, 2006


^Oh, I don't fileshare currently nor ever to any large extent, but when I did and found something good, I'd make the effort to buy the CD and support the artist, if it weren't by some already-rich fuck, and if it were something I would likely buy with my non-existent entertainment budget. Go on tour. Work for it, Lars.

I buy used CDs or borrow from the library when I can. Are the used CD stores paying royalties on their stock (seriously, I want to know)? I am poor, and I will be entertained and look rich just as you truly middle-class SOBs do, and with a full belly, to boot. When my aspirations and education lift me to the middle-class, damn straight I will be buying my real Fendi bags and BMG music club selections. If my aspirations, education, and hardwork won't do, well, I'll cobble together my own pirated goods. I'll sell that shit on eBay! Keep dangling that carrot! I want it, I want it all, I want the real thing, I really do!

Even my wireless is stolen! How much fun-money do you think the guy who made my purse in Guangzhou has for shits-and-giggles purchases at the end of a workweek? I'm sure he's got an opinion, too, you know. And it's his opinion, not mine, unique like an enslaved snowflake. And he needs to be entertained, to forget the workweek, just like you and me.

I want a a genuine cultural revolution armband to go with my counterfeit Mao suit.
posted by eegphalanges at 1:27 AM on August 8, 2006


They didn't get it then, and they still don't get it now.
That makes it sound like Chinese people are stupid and Westerners are not. The rest of your post doesn't have the same feel, though, so maybe that wasn't your intention? If you did intend to make it sound that way, well, that's simply not so.

Chinese culture just has a fundamentally different concept of what originality is, and what its value is. In the West, we worship originality. (To the point where one of the worst things you can say about a news story on Metafilter is "How predictable".) Joss Whedon made his fortune on never saying the same thing the same way twice.

In China, it's very different. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery there. Some of the most important pieces of classical art have been intentional copies of earlier pieces. One word that means "to study" also means "to copy". Literally: the way you say "Don't copy me!" can also mean "Don't learn from me!" You comment a child with "He's so obedient!" rather than "He's so independent!"

I think that a lot of modern Chinese people do in fact understand Western ideas of IP. They just don't respect them, like Westerners don't respect Chinese-style ideas of relational ethics et al., or they just need to make money and don't have time to think about Uncle Sammy over the seas. And, of course, since a lot of the factories turning out fakes are the same ones that produce the official goods, it's often just a matter of "keep the factory going for an extra six hours and make enough to put a down payment on a Benz".
posted by jiawen at 2:32 AM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


eegphalanges, the "first sale doctrine" protects the used-CD stores. It's different in principle from filesharing because when you sell a CD you no longer have it - it's not a case of making more copies. And the royalty is paid once per copy.

eegphalanges and jiawen, the Chinese attitudes about copying are interesting and we could probably learn something if we were capable of changing our corporate culture. Such an approach need not conflict with the better of the Western ideas of IP so long as there's craftsmanship and effort involved. It does conflict more when it's mass production, digital copying, or on a commercial scale.

Oh, and on the original topic: Yes, of course "piracy" can support terrorism. So can bakeries, haberdasheries, charitable contributions, and almost any other kind of transaction or activity. The merits of IP infringement and the means by which "terrorists" pay their costs are independent questions. The contrived association is just a propaganda trick to try to leverage sentiment against one to turn people against the other. Whenever you see this kind of trick, it means the propagandists can't support their views with honest arguments.
posted by jam_pony at 3:31 AM on August 8, 2006


Get your designer knockoffs on Canal Street in Manhattan. Just tell them bim sent you! :>

p.s. This news will stop nobody from heading for Canal Street.
posted by bim at 4:38 AM on August 8, 2006



posted by ab3 at 5:44 AM on August 8, 2006


jam_pony: If you download an album and send the musicians a dollar, it will cut out the real pirates and the artists will probably be getting the biggest per-album royalty they've ever received.

What's the best way to go about doing that? Seriously, I'd like to get behind that.
posted by skryche at 5:47 AM on August 8, 2006


It would have to be done informally. Someone could start listing addresses on a website, but anything more than this would run into legal problems.

The problem is not that paying would imply illegal filesharing - that wouldn't hold up as a means of getting at the payers. Any online payment setup would start having difficulties with chargebacks and such and with trusting the site operators, but that's not even the main problem.

The main problem would be legal rules - whether by statute, court decisions or contract, I'm not sure which - but the rule is that any payment the artists receive for the music is subject to the record company taking its share according to the standard ripoff contract, even if the payment doesn't come thru regular sales. So the musicians would end up with only their usual 5%, or maybe only a payment on their recording-promotion-distribution debt instead of getting the dollar. See for example The Problem with Music by Steve Albini or Courtney Love Does the Math.

Still I would like to look into it if I had time.
posted by jam_pony at 6:14 AM on August 8, 2006


So for example, tourist buys sunglasses with brand label X for $10, and they're fakes in that the real brand X model that they're imitating sells for $150.

wait, a $10 pair of sunglasses sells for $150 and who's the criminal?
posted by eustatic at 7:16 AM on August 8, 2006


every time you roll a phat, Tony Montana's ghost smiles
posted by matteo at 7:44 AM on August 8, 2006


wait, a $10 pair of sunglasses sells for $150 and who's the criminal?

No, a $10 pair of sunglasses claims to be the same as the $150 ones, or claims to be indistinguishable from a difference. The veracity of the claim is another story entirely.

That said, if you find no difference between the $10 and the $150 you should buy the $10! But there's probably more difference between them than one being legitimately produced by the brand and the other not.
posted by mendel at 9:50 AM on August 8, 2006


This post reminds me of the quickly-abandoned highly-dubious ONDCP claims that buying a dime bag would go towards helping the next Mohammed Atta (remember those ads?). I thought those were pretty stupid too.
posted by clevershark at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2006


I’ve had a hard time finding a lousy Rolex knock off. All the Rolex watch fakes I’ve seen are pretty damned good. Which is a shame, because I actually want a crummy fake. What’s the point in having a fake Rolex if people don’t know it’s a fake Rolex? If you’re a member of the irony generation I mean. It’s not like I’m actually trying to impress anyone by passing off some fake status symbol as real. I think the fake is vastly superior in terms of ironic social commentary cred. I’ve got the money to get a real Rolex, but it’s just a watch, really. I have a dive watch and that’s pretty much all I need (I don’t wear the jewlery). Plus, if someone robs you and they rip off the cheap knock off Rolex, won’t they feel like assholes? I mean that’d be great! (”Woo hoo! We got a Role...aww, shit.”) Hmm...maybe I’ll buy one of the good fakes and retool the name to say “Relex.”
posted by Smedleyman at 10:27 AM on August 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


ab3: ""

There, fixed it for you.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:30 AM on August 8, 2006


Smedleyman, I have a fake Rolex that I wear with pride whenever I have occasion to dress up. It's a pretty good fake, but anyone who knows real thing can quickly spot the flaws.

It looks good enough that people who care about that sort of thing notice I'm wearing a nice watch, but the real pleasure comes from the geeks who want to inspect it to see a good counterfeit.

After playing with mine, a friend who has a real Rolex went and got a counterfeit as well, strictly for the coolness value.

Gotta admit though, I now really wish it said 'Relex'.
posted by quin at 11:08 AM on August 8, 2006



Smedleyman-- I'm so with you.

I just read a book called _The Sky's The Limit_, which is about high-end real estate in Manhattan. In it, the author tells a story about a furrier's wife who carried a fake designer bag to her swanky-butt co-op interview. She and her husband failed the interview, in part because the cursive signature on the bag actualy said "fuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuck" instead of the designer's name.

I'd really love to find one of those.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:44 PM on August 8, 2006


jiawen : I think that a lot of modern Chinese people do in fact understand Western ideas of IP. They just don't respect them, like Westerners don't respect Chinese-style ideas of relational ethics et al., or they just need to make money and don't have time to think about Uncle Sammy over the seas. And, of course, since a lot of the factories turning out fakes are the same ones that produce the official goods, it's often just a matter of "keep the factory going for an extra six hours and make enough to put a down payment on a Benz".

You are right, and my words regarding "getting it/not getting it" were poorly chosen. I'm just not particularly eloquent when defending my handbag greed.
posted by eegphalanges at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2006


That said, if you find no difference between the $10 and the $150 you should buy the $10! But there's probably more difference between them than one being legitimately produced by the brand and the other not.
posted by mendel


After my son was born, I wanted a diaper bag that was big enough to carry everything, but wasn't some horrible lavender thing with bunnies on it.

A Birkin *style* bag was perfect. But the odds of me paying 10k for a Hermes diaper bag was slim to nothing. $50 at a street vendor, and I was set. Does it say Hermes on it? No. Even if I could afford Hermes bags, I wouldn't own one that had branding on it. I unilaterally refuse to be a walking billboard for products for which I've paid.

The only way Hermes lost money on that sale was because they didn't license the design to be manufactured at the mass market level. If they wanted my $50.00, then they should have made a $50.00 bag. If my $50.00 isn't worth the trouble to them, then how are they hurt?

And somehow, I doubt the little Asian lady who sold me the bag is funneling money to terrorists.
posted by dejah420 at 7:33 PM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


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