This is really getting painful. The NYT has an article reporting that many Chinese consumers were outraged when they discovered that the expensive DaVinci furniture they had purchased was actually produced at "a ramshackle factory in southern China."

It then tells readers:

"Maybe more significant, the scandal indicates that even in China — where consumers have long been willing to turn a blind eye to pirated DVDs and Gucci knockoffs — there are boundaries that no counterfeiter should breach. Not if the fakes are priced as high as the real thing."

There is a very simple point here that the paper is missing. When people buy unauthorized copies that sell for a fraction of the brand version, they know that they are not getting the brand version. The deal if beneficial to both the seller and the buyer. This is why it is very difficult for the government to crack down on sales of unauthorized copies of merchandise. Both parties to the deal are happy with it.

On the other hand, a counterfeit involves deceiving the buyer, as seems to be the case with the sale of DaVinci furniture. People thought that they were getting something that they did not in fact get. In this case, the consumer is an ally, since the consumer has been ripped by the counterfeiter.

The distinction between sales of unauthorized copies and counterfeiting is very clear and very fundamental. The NYT should be able to get it right.

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