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Canceling the manufacturing of counterfeits: is it a smart move?

Counterfeit goods are here, whether the public likes it or not.  

There has been a phenomenon occurring in retail and industrial goods alike—one that has polarized the thoughts of both consumers and law enforcement.  Counterfeit goods have swept the country and will most likely never be able to be halted by any force. A society increasingly obsessed with luxury goods and material status has only created a growing hotbed for fake items and “reps.” But who is really harmed by these fakes? 

The answer to that depends on the good being replicated and its quality. However, it is generally not a bad thing. 

Of course, most of the (admittedly cold) debate around counterfeits centers around morality. With such a touchy topic as morality, there is typically not a common-sense answer when an issue like counterfeits is discussed. Yet, the answer is so clear. 

When you counterfeit a good, as long as it has no effect on the consumer (health, fiscal scam, etc.) or a small business in which every sale counts, there really is no immorality. Most counterfeit goods are rip-offs of gigantic companies’ products such as Nike, and the reason people need to buy reps anyways is because of absurdly high retail prices. In other words: Nike is hardly, if at all, affected. This is not to say to go out and spend money on a pair of dunks, but consumers should know what the cause and effects of their actions are. 

For instance, another controversy surrounding counterfeit goods is the enforcement and legislation encompassing the banning of manufacturing and selling them. For those who did not know, it is very illegal to sell and market anything counterfeit, regardless of what it is. What is not illegal however is buying the goods for personal use. What the Department of Justice (DOJ) has specified when commenting on cases pertaining to the use and distribution of counterfeits is that those who buy are not at fault legally, just the distributors of the fake goods.

It is a consensus view that buying reps for items like sneakers and clothes are relatively harmless, but what about items that serve a purpose outside of aesthetic? For years, the US government and law enforcement have attempted to quell the movement of counterfeit household items such as laundry detergent and soap. Where sneakers do nothing but serve as a cosmetic, items being sold for functional use have the potential to harm users. This ties back to the earlier statement that it really is immoral to sell counterfeits capable of inflicting significant harm on users. These may be the worst kind of fakes as well due to their potency and way of being sold. Most counterfeit fashion is sold on obscure online shops where they are not quite marketed as the real thing but rather as a “dupe” of it. These counterfeit household items often are sold by 2nd hand “retailers” who continue to act negligently without regard for the damage that they are responsible for.  These retailers often make large profits online disguised as well-known shops, ripping off brands and consumers alike. 

Yet, who really cares? If it does not do real harm to anyone, we as a society should let people enjoy what they want and wear what they want to wear. Paying $500 for shoes for the average person is unrealistic. The societal bargain should be that as long as the average person does not attempt to flex their “wealth” as if their shoes were real, they should not be ostracized for their choices. Overall, we should stop caring so much about wealth and status when judging a person’s choices and character. 

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