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What of knock-offs?

Corey Worrell

What of knock-offs?

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There was an article entitled DVD Nuisance in the May 28 SATURDAY?SUN.
The opening paragraph read: “Sellers of bootleg DVD movies are posing problems on the premises of a membership club and a supermarket in Warrens, prompting the former to engage the services of an attorney to deal with the situation.”
In the closing paragraphs of the article, which I obtained from, chairman Derek Wilkie
of the Copyright Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers applauded the membership club for taking action and called for heavier fines “and a more serious outlook to be taken”.
“It cannot continue. These guys are infringing copyright laws and need to be stopped. They are selling illegal copies of copyright material and they must come under the hand of the law,” he said then.
Last Sunday, in an article entitled DVD Fix, Assistant Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith said: “While police were still confiscating the illegal goods and arresting and charging people, there was a hitch in the legislation which was preventing them from being in a position to stamp out this trade.”
He went on to say: “We are very aware of what is happening and very soon we will be clamping down on the activity in Bridgetown.”
Before I go any further, let me confess that I have bought bootleg DVDs in the past. Actually, I don’t know many people who have never bought, borrowed or watched bootleg DVDs.
It is often said that we Barbadians are great “reactors”: we wait until something occurs or gets out of control, then attempt to legislate or control it.
We can see evidence of this with the ZR and minibus culture, the illegal sale of CDs and DVDs, the selling of coconuts, nuts and other fruit on the highways, and the issues with illegal immigrants.
I believe that citizens of and visitors to a country should uphold the laws and regulations of that country. If the selling of bootleg DVDs is illegal, then those who ply that trade should be punished.
In the articles mentioned above, Mr Wilkie said those who sell illegal copies of copyrighted material must come under the hand of the law, and Assistant Commissioner Griffith said very soon the police will be clamping down on the illegal activity.
I am wondering if this approach to curtail the illegal sale of copyrighted/bootleg/imitation merchandise will apply across the board and not only to the poor man selling DVDs. What about knock-offs?
What about businesses and people who knowingly sell bootleg/knock-off/counterfeit brand-name clothing, handbags, watches, colognes, perfumes, shoes, sunglasses and belts?
Based on principle, if the sale of knock-off DVDs is considered illegal because they are copyrighted material, then the sale of imitation brand-name clothing and apparel has to be illegal since they too are copyrighted and trademarked.
In America, there is a law known as the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984. Any individual or company that knowingly sells or traffics a counterfeit product violates the act and faces substantial monetary fines (up to $5 million) and prison time (up to 20 years’ imprisonment or in some cases, life).
In France and Italy it is illegal to sell or purchase counterfeit goods. In Barbados, . . . ?
Yes, many will be disadvantaged if stores that sell counterfeit products are forced to close and DVD hustlers are forced to stop, but our disadvantaged positions should not be the determining factor of whether something is right or wrong.
What example and principles are we setting for our people?
Watch the trend: we sell bootleg CDs, DVDs and clothing; we sell stolen fruit and vegetables; we pirate satellite channels; we photocopy copyrighted books; and we submit plagiarized work.
We may soon be charged with illegally copying other nations’ cultures and practices.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador. Email [email protected]