Senate Looks To Slow Innovation In Fashion Industry With New Copyright Laws

from the the-industry-is-thriving dept

For years, the fashion industry has represented a great example to show to people who assume that copyright is necessary to build a thriving creative industry. Copyrights do not protect fashion designs, and while there definitely are copies and knockoffs, that's actually helped the industry thrive. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the derivative versions of the designs make them much more widely known and available, and actually increase the value of the original brand name versions -- since only designs that are really good are seen as being worth copying. More importantly, however, the lack of copyright on fashion designs means that fashion designers need to be more innovative more often. They keep coming up with new designs, because they can't stagnate. Considering that the entire purpose of copyright is supposed to spur more creative works, the fashion industry shows that the lack of monopoly protection is actually a bigger incentive. So, with the highly competitive fashion industry thriving due to the lack of copyright protection, there should be no reason to suddenly add copyrights. Apparently, no one has explained that to the U.S. Senate, which is considering a bill to extend copyrights to fashion designs. Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels. They won't have to be as innovative. There will be less competition. However, there's simply no reason for Congress to step in with special incentives for innovation in a market that is already thriving thanks in large part to the very lack of those "incentives."


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  1.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:10am

    Dibs

    I got first dibs on the T-Shirt and Jeans look.

    seriously, who suggested this idea? They need smacked.

     

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  2.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    As if I needed another reason to doubt the Congres

    ability to clearly think.

    I am definitely avoiding Washington DC;
    It appears that the area has a intelligence fog that prevents someone from thinking clearly. I continue to marvel (Marvel comics rock!) at the depth and breath of stupid (and I don't use the word stupid often) laws that wash across the American Landscape.

    Who cares if chicken eat ice cream on Sunday?
    Pi is not 3.00 for estimation purposes and
    Hammers and Toilet Seats do not cost $300 USD.

     

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  3.  
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    Gene, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:46am

    From the article

    >>Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York

     

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  4.  
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    Nivram, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    The US senate, in a bid to do anything even remotely similar to real work, today considered new copyright laws for something as stupid as fashion designs!
    Thanks, senators.....thanks so much for doing a bang-up job running this country for us, so we'll sleep better at night, knowing that the high-priced fashion designs that 95% of the population can't afford, will be protected from copycats!! (sarcastic eye roll)

     

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  5.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:30am

    I know I'm gonna do...

    I'm gonna buy stock on companies that sell cheap clothes (Walmart, K-Mart, and so on...) because when this goes through all the highend clothing labels (Hilfiger, Prada, and so on...) will be tripping over themselves getting to the copyright office.

    Really doesn't trademark already give the fashion industry enough protection? Of course not. They saw how the tech companies were making money and wanted in on the act too. Hopefully if this comes to be the Senate will have the foresight to exclude anything that is on the market right now from this expansion.

     

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  6.  
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    Andy, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:38am

    All that's needed is some forward thinking designer to license their works under some creative commons license. This will end up relegating the lazy designers who don't want to be innovative to obscurity, while the CC licensed works get more exposure, and ultimately more success, for the designers who are actually interested in progress.

    This could end up being good, as it could help flush out the dead weight from the industry.

     

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  7.  
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    Overcast, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:45am

    The current Government is the worst thing that could have ever happened to Freedom and the Free Market.

     

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  8.  
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    Adam, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:09am

    Re: Overcast's post

    Don't forget freedom of religion, oh wait and freedom of choice, oh golly i forgot freedom of speach, wait, wasn't there something about freedom from unreasonable search and seizure....

    its like a constitution-scrapbooking party... lets pick the parts that suit us and cut out all the rest....

     

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  9.  
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    Mike M., Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:14am

    My biggest problem with this is that if something is already working the way it is, why change it.

    From the article: "Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels. They won't have to be as innovative."

    So because there are some lazy fashion designers they are going to screw the entire industry.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    So because there are some lazy fashion designers they are going to screw the entire industry.
    Why not? Isn't screwing people over the whole point of government granted monopolies?

     

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  11.  
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    Matt Bennett, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 11:13am

    I dunno, might be kinda nice if fashion stagnated a bit. I mean, besides teen-age girls, did anyone of us really appreciate that last years clothes were automatically out of fashion?

     

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  12.  
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    anonymous coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 2:14pm

    I'll patent the "geeks do it in the ASCII" t-shirt with high water second-hand pants with Members Only-style jacket. Every Techdirt reader will owe me $$$$!

     

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  13.  
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    Ben(Damnit), Aug 14th, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    Congress

    If it's not broken, fix it.

     

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  14.  
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    Chris, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    Re: As if I needed another reason to doubt the Con

    Hey, I live in Washington DC and there is no fog here to make us stupid. The problem is that all 50 states have these "elections" where you pick the biggest jerks in your state and then they all get sent here. Don't blame DC for being the jail cell, blame the criminals in it for their actions!

     

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  15.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:03pm

    Oh Noes

    Realistically, how different is one clothing design from another? The differences are often so subtle (with men's clothes, especially) that it's going to be very hard indeed to avoid accusations that one person's design is too similar to another's. You know how it is with software patents, where it is essentially impossible to write a major new piece of software without running into accusations of violating some patent or another? Fashion copyrights are going to be just as bad: it will become impossible to create any new clothing design without being charged with copying somebody's existing design.

    It's going to be unworkable.

     

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  16.  
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    Charles Griswold, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Congress

    If it's not broken, fix it.
    "If it's not broke, fix it until it is." -- Congress

     

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  17.  
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    Calix, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 9:48am

    In defense of copyright

    As someone who occasionally makes a living off of creative work, I'm struggling to wrap my mind around the idea that I somehow automatically lose the right to exploit and control something I created and that this somehow is of value to the greater society. If I record a song, make a movie, write an article - or design a dress - please explain to me the moral justification that allows you to take my creative work and exploit it for your own gain, without my permission or even compensation to me?

    I understand the argument that if you make a copy of my creative work that I still own the original, but I also understand the argument that your copy (times a gazillion internet downloads) dilutes the value of that specific original work. And I also understand how those gazillion free internet downloads tangentially might increase the value of future works of mine, by expanding the market - but that should be my choice to make with my own work, not yours to arbitrarily foist upon me.

    It's my creative work, dammit - be creative your own damn self!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re: In defense of copyright

    It's my creative work, dammit - be creative your own damn self!
    Give me an example of something that you've supposedly created that was ENTIRELY ORIGINAL. And by ENTIRELY ORIGINAL I mean containing NO elements that you didn't originally create. I bet you can't do it.

     

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  19.  
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    Calix, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    Okay, that's a bit reductio ad absurdum, AC.

    I mean, I could argue that this particular post I'm typing right now - this sentence - is ENTIRELY ORIGINAL, but then you could point out that I'm using - gasp! - the English language and grammar and letters and all that. (Not to mention quoting/referencing your use of all caps for ENTIRELY ORIGINAL.)

    But by that argument, I could go to the Hummer dealership and say that, hey, they didn't "create" the behemoth sitting out on the lot - they didn't invent metal for the bodywork, they didn't spin the seat covers out of thin air - it's all derivative, nothing about it is “ENTIRELY ORIGINAL,” and thus, what? They should just give me the Hummer free and clear?

    In some important ways, intellectual property is different than physical property, I will agree. But it is also similar in other ways. It has value. It can be manipulated and marketed to increase the value. And it can be owned (at least for now), and exploited as the owner sees fit.

    Simply because there are complicated issues involved in how to balance the rights of the IP owner with the needs of society doesn’t mean that the solution is to just screw the owner of IP.

    Or, more directly: simply because you don’t have the creative ability to come up with your own stunning and marketable dress design doesn’t give you the right to steal mine.

    I just can’t see how your lack of creative ability gives you the moral right to exploit my creations without my consent or compensation. To use IP without the owner’s permission is theft, pure and simple.

     

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  20.  
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    Thomason, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    Protection is pro-innovation

    If there were copyrights on existing designs, then other designers would have to devote their unlimited creativity to new designs, and none to copying the work of others.
    What's innovative? Copying what's already out there, or creating something new? If you can be lazy and just copy, then why put effort into innovating something new?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    Okay, that's a bit reductio ad absurdum, AC.
    Can't do it, can you?

    I mean, I could argue that this particular post I'm typing right now - this sentence - is ENTIRELY ORIGINAL,
    I guess you claim that, but it wouldn't be true now would it?

    But by that argument, I could go to the Hummer dealership and say that, hey, they didn't "create" the behemoth sitting out on the lot - they didn't invent metal for the bodywork, they didn't spin the seat covers out of thin air - it's all derivative, nothing about it is “ENTIRELY ORIGINAL,” and thus, what?
    And indeed, it isn't entirely original.

    They should just give me the Hummer free and clear?
    You'll have to explain that one to me. However, you should be free to go and build one for yourself if you want to.

    In some important ways, intellectual property is different than physical property, I will agree.
    Really? Well, so far you don't seem to recognize that difference.

    Simply because there are complicated issues involved in how to balance the rights of the IP owner with the needs of society doesn’t mean that the solution is to just screw the owner of IP.
    There's a big difference between being "complicated" and being deliberately obfuscated.

    Or, more directly: simply because you don’t have the creative ability to come up with your own stunning and marketable dress design doesn’t give you the right to steal mine.
    What would that have to do with it? You mean that if I have such ability then I would have that right? Or was that just a little ad hominem attack?

    I just can’t see how your lack of creative ability gives you the moral right to exploit my creations without my consent or compensation
    Likewise, if I independently come up with something similar what gives you the moral right to take away my freedom to use it?

    To use IP without the owner’s permission is theft, pure and simple.
    Which is just exactly what you're advocating and by your own admission you apparently know it too.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Protection is pro-innovation

    "If you can be lazy and just copy, then why put effort into innovating something new?"

    It seems to me that the lazy ones are the ones who want to be protected from competition.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Calix, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 1:28pm

    Solomon once posited that there is nothing new under the sun.

    No, I can't point to something that is "ENTIRELY ORIGINAL" because your request is fallacious to the discussion at hand at its very root. I am not God; I do not create ex nihilo. Neither do you. Nothing we do as humans is done in a void. That applies to Internet postings just as surely as it applies to Hummers at the dealership. That is why your argument is reductio ad absurdum. Maybe God can make a rock so big He can't move it, maybe He can't - or maybe there's a flaw in the argument itself.

    On the other hand, the following sentence:

    "I mean, I could argue that this particular post I'm typing right now - this sentence - is ENTIRELY ORIGINAL, but then you could point out that I'm using - gasp! - the English language and grammar and letters and all that."

    Is ENTIRELY ORIGINAL, in that I would bet the odds that it never existed before I typed it. That those exact combination of letters, words and English grammar, expressing that thought and idea, even in that font and on your screen, never existed before I typed it. It is a newly created work. It is in that respect ENTIRELY ORIGINAL, even if it exists in a framework of letters, words, English grammar, this particular debate, cultural references, etc.

    But to the core of your position:

    "Because all Intellectual Property is by its essence derivitive, there should be no protection of any IP."

    Well, I'm just stunned. My first impulse is to assume that you've never created something of value to the marketplace or anyone else, so you must add creativity to your work by stealing it from others - but that would be uncharitable, wouldn't it?

    On the other hand, I value what I and others create. So does the marketplace. Legal barriers to IP theft are morally no different than legal barriers to physical property theft. Because who, after all, can actually "own" something - land, for example, outlives us all, so why should any one person be able to claim "ownership" of it? or if I see you eating a doughnut and, yoink, possession is 9/10ths of the law, they say ...

    I am stunned that you believe that YOU have some moral right to the product of MY work without my say-so. And to me, it makes no difference if the product of my work is pixals on a screen or a Hummer at the dealership.

     

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  24.  
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    CRTisMe, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 5:00pm

    Not even close

    Mike quote:

    "Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels. They won't have to be as innovative. There will be less competition."

    Mike is a geek- I have seen his video. Now he wants us to believe he is an expert on fashion. Oh this is on top of his already exalted expertise on law, on patents, on music copyright, on tech, on tech design and software...

    Fashion design is driven by the need to come up with something new for the next season, not very much by clothes wearing out. Pure and simple if something doesn't thrill me I wear my current clothes. Having a copyright on a piece of clothing does not allow a designer to slack off- no connection at all.

    And in your second sentence above you indicate that there would be less competition for innovation if there are copyrights. Since when is an exact knock-off of a clothing outfit an innovation? You are distorting the English language again. In English innovation means approximately new and different. Knock- off approximately means "the same" as in not innovative.

    Mike you continue to insult people in the creative class. You have done it in the past calling musicians lazy. It does get tiresome and does not advance your argument.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 5:22pm

    Re:

    My first impulse is to assume that you've never created something of value to the marketplace or anyone else, so you must add creativity to your work by stealing it from others - but that would be uncharitable, wouldn't it?
    It would be quite untrue and would demonstrate both profound ignorance and arrogance.

    On the other hand, I value what I and others create.
    So long as you can use it to create derivative works that you then falsely claim to be wholly original.

    Legal barriers to IP theft are morally no different than legal barriers to physical property theft.
    Oh boy, here we go with that big "copyright violation is theft" lie. The courts have ruled that it isn't, but you haven't truth get in your way yet so why start now.

    I see you eating a doughnut and, yoink, possession is 9/10ths of the law, they say..
    Who is this "they"? You? It's just another lie anyway. You're on a roll.

    I am stunned that you believe that YOU have some moral right to the product of MY work without my say-so.
    And yet, that is exactly what you do to others. You're just stunned to find that you aren't somehow morally privileged to do what you condemn others for doing.

    As for all of the religious rhetoric in the beginning of your post, I would to point out that you actually made a good argument against your own position. Let me add to it a story from Christianity. There was once a man named Jesus who took two fish and five loaves of bread and made enough copies of them to feed several thousand people. Were the fishermen who sold the two original fish entitled to be paid for thousands more? What about the bakers whose loaves Jesus copied? In other words, was Jesus a thief? I would say NO, although your arguments would clearly indicate otherwise. Another thing he wasn't was a lover of hypocrites who preach one thing and do another. Perhaps you need to study that bible a little more.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Not even close

    You have done it in the past calling musicians lazy.
    Would you care to reference just exactly where Mike made such an unqualified assertion? If not, I would consider it to be a lie.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    CRTisMe, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:05pm

    Response to #26

    "
    You have done it in the past calling musicians lazy.

    Would you care to reference just exactly where Mike made such an unqualified assertion? If not, I would consider it to be a lie."

    Mike exact quotes about the creative class (would you be insulted?)

    "Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels."
    Mikes speaking of songwriters (musicians):
    "Most people who create one thing don't get to sit back and collect cash for it for the rest of their lives."

    "However, the musicians should realize that this increased communication will pay benefits in a different way -- making more loyal fans, more willing to go to more shows (and potentially even pay more for those shows). Greedily spamming someone's phone with a pitch risks losing all of that benefit, for a very minor short-term return."


    In the quote above about songwriters who create "one thing" and then coast the rest of their lives. I mean that is an absurd portrayal of the amount of work 99.9% of published songwriters go through.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    Re: Response to #26

    "Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels."
    Mikes speaking of songwriters (musicians):
    "Most people who create one thing don't get to sit back and collect cash for it for the rest of their lives."
    That is pretty far from calling all musicians lazy. As suspected, I can now see that you are indeed a liar. Sadly, you may not even recognize it yourself.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Peter, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 1:57am

    i am going to be $$$$$$$$$$$

    I have just put patent on trouses,shirt,t-shirl,and skirt and also on A DRESS also may put patent on being naked in the public follow the link to send me the money www.mygovermentisstupyd.com

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Glenn, Aug 30th, 2007 @ 9:29am

    Re: "The current Government"

    Just delete the first two words and I'll agree with you. "Government is the negation of freedom"

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Francisco, Oct 9th, 2007 @ 4:01pm

    Copyright

    If fashion designers will seek copyright protection on design, what next colors too.
    And so who really did create the Polo shirt Ralph Lauern? or did he just make it popular with his logo.

    Keep the US government from regulating fashion don't they have better tings to do ...like balancing the deficit or affordable Health care.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    reee, Feb 29th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Dibs

    uuuhhh no you didn't

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    martha gamboa, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 10:50am

    dogs

    hi my name is martyha ND I WANT TO BE ON THIS PROGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Student, Oct 16th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    fashion

    well the new law wont really work out for the designers because they just wont make as much as thewy think with out everyone copying off their ideas

     

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