Friday, June 11, 2010

Fake CMA festival merchandise can be seized on the spot

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring street hawkers from selling counterfeit CMA Music Festival merchandise as the huge tourism event hits high gear today.
The order empowers police and CMA-designated personnel to seize suspect merchandise on the spot, with a court hearing later.

"This is really a warning to people trying to sell this fake merchandise that they're not welcome here," said Metro police spokeswoman Kris Mumford, who said police would work closely with CMA officials. "If anyone sees this downtown, they're encouraged to report this to a police officer."

The court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes puts more teeth in the enforcement abilities of CMA officials and law enforcement to crack down on any illegal hawkers at the city's largest festival.

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Thus far, Metro police say they haven't received any reports of bootleg sales. The judge's ruling gives police or anyone designated by CMA, which employs some off-duty police officers, clearance to seize suspect items and hold them until a June 25 hearing in federal court.

In years past, counterfeit merchandise sellers were spotted selling their wares at various locations, including at LP Field and along Lower Broadway, officials said. Approached by CMA staff, some would quickly load their gear into a duffel bag and walk away, the CMA's court filings said.

The court order "gives us the right to halt the sale of counterfeit merchandise," said CMA spokeswoman Wendy Pearl. "This has always been a concern, but this year, since all proceeds are going to charity, we are taking steps to crack down."

CMA is donating money to flood relief and education this year.

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