Counterfeit buyers feel it's a crime


WASHINGTON -- More American consumers are buying bootleg recordings, but they also say they believe such purchases should be a crime, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

American counterfeit purchases have been rising steadily since 2005, the organization found, and 22% of those surveyed said they had purchased bootlegs this year. The Northeast is the nation's hotbed for counterfeit buying and selling with 31% of those surveyed making a bootleg buy. Los Angeles residents made the fewest counterfeit purchases, but 25% of the population still bought pirated merchandise.

Despite the widespread black-market purchasing, nearly 75% of those surveyed said they would like to see stricter counterfeiting laws, and nine out of 10 believe it should be a criminal act to make those purchases, according to the study underwritten by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is conducting its annual intellectual property conference today and Wednesday.

Americans' desire to get tough on piracy and their simultaneous appetite for bootleg goods comes because "historically, people don't view counterfeiting as a crime that has victims," Gallup global brand manager Chris Stewart said.

While Stewart thinks that attitude has been changing, the spate of recalls for everything from toys to pet food is making consumers think about what's in the stuff they buy.

"This whole issue of product safety -- dog food, toothpaste, toys -- is generating a greater awareness in what you are buying," he said. "More and more folks are suspicious."

Gallup found that the most effective deterrents to counterfeiting are the likelihood of supporting terrorists, the potential for inflicting harm on a loved one, and the possibility of supporting organized crime, according to the survey of 4,311 randomly selected adults conducted in May and June. Gallup claims a 1.5% margin of error. It was the third year Gallup has taken America's pulse on the issue.