Street sales of pirated goods to be regulated in some coastal towns

Councils of el Vendrell and Calafell negotiate with blanket street vendors in a move to regulate their activities and to avoid illicit competition with local businesses


August 11, 2010 11:08 PM

“Top manta” vendors, as the unregulated street-sellers of pirated CDs, clothes, sun glasses and bags are often referred to in Spain, are negotiating with the town councils of el Vendrell and Calafell in efforts to regulate their activity in these coastal locations.
The mayors want the “top manta” to move to less prominent locations, and to pay a local tax to legalise their activities. The decision has caused concern among the opposition politicians and some local businesses. They complain that “top manta” vendors sell fake products at lower prices than conventional shops can afford. However, the councils argue that regulation is needed to avoid further confrontation between these groups.

“Top manta” vendors are usually young and of sub-Saharan or Moroccan origin. They sell their products in the streets, on big blankets, which they move as soon as they see the police coming. They operate in most cities in Catalonia and Spain. Regulating these people is one of the greatest challenges to the police and local authorities in the country. The difficulties they pose for local businesses by operating outside of the law and selling counterfeit goods makes it particularly challenging for authorities to impact their operations effectively.

The Home Minister of Catalonia, Joan Saura, said that it is “reasonable” to negotiate with the vendors on how to regulate their activities in tourist locations such as el Vendrell o Calafell. However, Saura warned that the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, will still prosecute those vendors whose goods are illegal or counterfeit.
Saura argued that it is understandable that local councils need to regulate the street vendors. He also emphasized that the police should continue to check whether top manta vendors are selling legitimate products.