Newsweek Explains Why Fashion Designers Don't Need Copyright

from the good-to-see dept

For many years, we've been troubled by the effort by some fashion designers to add a totally unnecessary copyright to fashion design. We had noted that the fashion industry was actually a great example of a creative industry that was thriving without copyrights. It's quite innovative and has a ton of competition, which is what we'd like to see -- so it never made sense that some politicians keep introducing a bill to extend copyright protection to fashion designers. This year, Sen. Chuck Schumer is back again with another attempt at extending copyright to fashion, and he's been able to sign up a large number of co-sponsors. In the past, similar proposals haven't gone far, but there's a feeling that there may be some momentum behind it this year.

Thankfully, some in the mainstream press are calling foul. Over at Newsweek, Ezra Klein has a fantastic column questioning the need for this bill and highlighting just how ridiculous it is. My favorite part is the following:
But perhaps the strongest argument is that America's apparel industry doesn't seem broken--so why try and fix it? "America is the world fashion leader," said Steven Kolb, director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the lead trade group in support of the Schumer bill, "and yet it is basically the only industrialized country that does not provide protection for fashion design."

Run that by me one more time? We're the world leader in fashion, so we should change our policy to mimic our lagging competitors?
Klein quotes Jamie Boyle, pointing out that:
"Intellectual property is legalized monopoly," says James Boyle, a professor at Duke Law School. "And like any monopoly, its tendency is to raise prices and diminish availability. We should have a high burden of proof for whether it's necessary."
Indeed. The supporters of this bill don't seem to realize that copyright is supposed to be about "promoting the progress," not about "protecting an industry." The comments from Steven Kolb show that fashion designers want this not to promote the progress, but because they feel blatantly entitled to extra protectionism. Yet, as Boyle points out, this can seriously harm the public. There should be a high burden of proof to show that any such expansion of copyright law is necessary, and the evidence (as even Kolb implicitly admits) is totally lacking.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Other countries

    I wasn't aware that "every other developed country" already had copyright protection on fashion - if they do it is honoured in the breach. Can anyone quote chapter and verse of this in respect of (say) the UK, France, Italy (or the EU)?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 6:57am

    The Real Reason for Germany's Industrial Expansion?

    Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country's industrial might.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,710976,00.html

    Maybe is a good thing after the industry goes down the drain they can try and input guilt upon other countries.
    While the rest of the world continues to expand.

     

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  3.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Hmmm

    What do I want to copyright if this bill goes though ...

    Button up dress shirts, pants, shorts, and skirts.

     

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  4.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Hmmm

    ...Spandex, Jeans, Ties, boots, shoes....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:49am

    "Counterfeits"

    The real reason the fashion industry wants to gain copyrights on design is to stop the imitators from imitating their designs. I think it is completely stupid, but that is the only real reason I can come up with.

     

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  6.  
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    darryl, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:22am

    America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    Your "troubled" by some fashion designers seeking copyright, and you dont understand why if the system is not broken right...

    Clearly, you do not work in the field, and its also clear that the actual fashion designers see there is a problem. And can see copyright as a way to rectify that problem.

    So what is the problem again, if as you say the fashion industry works well without copyright, then those fashion designers who want to keep working without copyright on their works can do so.

    Those that want the copyright can do that,,, its called choice.

    No one is forcing anyone to enforce copyright, just the right to do so if they wish.

    The reason why you seem to think the system is not broken is because there seem to be little in the way of copyright type disputes in fashion.

    But that is because those fashion designers keep there work highly proprietary until release, and realease and the 'fashion show' shows everyone in the industry their designs.

    That is in itself its own form of copyright, its just not possible to copy someone elses fashion design and not be noticed for doing it.

    Its just how that industry is, it would be the same with software if each peice of software was so unique that you could tell at a glance who designed it.

    As for "America leading the fashion world" !!!

    Geee,,, dont get out much that guy does he LOL..

    That statement alone shows he has little real knowledge of the fashion industry.. But also shows that Mike will happily repeat the mis-claims if it suits his 'story'.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    Ah, the old appeal to false authority. No facts or studies here. Move along.

     

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  8.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:52am

    The supporters of this bill don't seem to realize that copyright is supposed to be about "promoting the progress," not about "protecting an industry."

    Or in this case incumbants in the industry not even the industry as a whole.

    Of course if these designers would come up with something that real humans with real bodies could wear. Oh darn, there I go again wishing for something that will never happen. :-)

     

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  9.  
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    Niall (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    ' "America is the world fashion leader," said Steven Kolb, director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the lead trade group in support of the Schumer bill " '

    Only the *director* of the *Council of Fashion Designers of America*, a *lead trade group*.

    So I think /he/ knows what he is talking about. Hardly an industry 'needing' to be propped up by added copyrights - merely one wanting to create a de-innovating monopoly, which is why we are being skeptical.

    Yet another 'insightful' darryl crash-and-burn! Do you bother to actually read the articles before you automatically go against whatever Mike has said? Or do you just feel copyrights can never be too strong, extensive and long-lasting, with copyright owners 'entitled' to

    Really, what makes a 'creator' so 'holy' compared to us ordinary joes who do an honest day's work for a supposedly honest day's wage? Why do /that/ get to earn income in perpetuity for a day's work? Whilst I don't deny their right to make money *if* they can, there is no reason why their income should be propped up at everyone else's expense. We've had enough of that with bankers lately.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    You talk about the right to have choices, so why do you think fashion designers should have the right to limit choices for everyone else by means of monopoly?

     

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  11.  
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    Money Mike (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    Admittedly, I've been away from techdirt for a little while, so I fear that I may be replying to someone who's a well-known anti-techdirt, waste-of-time troll, but I'll take that risk anyway.

    You so ineloquently said: "then those fashion designers who want to keep working without copyright on their works can do so.
    Those that want the copyright can do that,,, its called choice.
    No one is forcing anyone to enforce copyright, just the right to do so if they wish."

    Now, I don't know if you were being serious or not, but I have to comment on the absurdity of that statement as if you were. A copyright applies to everyone - not just those who are in favor of it. If I decide to create a new song and sample an older song (created by someone else) for the chorus, and then the music label behind that older song decides to sue me for copyright infringement, I cannot simply tell them "oh, I'm sorry you had to waste your time, but I don't actually agree with copyright laws." That just won't work. It doesn't matter if I disagree with them. I, as a new artist in this example, must succumb to copyright laws. That means I would have NO CHOICE.

    Even if I was the other person in that example and it was the other artist who sampled my music for their song, my music label (despite my preference) would most likely go after that other artist for copyright infringement. It doesn't matter if I disagree with them. Again, I must succumb to copyright laws. That means I would have NO CHOICE.

    It's not that you're (noticed how I spelled that?) stupid, it's just that haven't thought this through. Although, if that's a recurring problem for you, that could actually be the issue. If I confused you at all, you may want to ask your mom to help you with the big words.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Hmmm

    You folks are going to basic.

    The combination of materials to make threads...
    The combination of materials to make needles...
    The combination of materials to make synthetic fabrics...
    The concept of a garment designed to cover...

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Goodness...

    And people though they were paying outrageous prices for designer gear without copyright coming into the mix...

    Imagine copyright resulting in that $2000 Dolce Garbana purse shooting up to $20,000 because DG now has a copyright on that purse meaning that no one else can make anything even remotely like it.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    "No one is forcing anyone to enforce copyright, just the right to do so if they wish." Do you not understand how copyright works? If a designer copyrighted a garment the would in fact BE FORCING the government to enforce that copyright.

    My father spent many years a a salesperson in the garment industry in New York. The company he worked for had designs "copied" by competitors and they in turn "copied" their competitors. It's how it's done.

    How can a designer insist they need copyright protections on works that are often influenced by pop culture? Has the industry already forgotten its foray into military inspired garb? Do they want to copyright the epaulet? Since copyright protects specific expressions of ideas does that mean that only one designer will be able to place a 5cm wide pocket on a shirt, on a horizontal line even with the 2nd button on the collar?

    The fashion industry has trademark protection, that's all that consumer's need. Please remember that we have a government for the people not the corporation and that laws should be about protecting the people, not a corporation's bottom line.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    The person you are responding too is a troll, he makes disparage comments and never ever comes back to answer any questions, you can call him on all factual errors you want, he doesn't come back to discuss any of it ever!

    Don't waste your time, paying attention to what he says is not for real, he just want to see people angry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    TROLL ALERT!

    This person is not serious, he will not debate any issues and only appears to want to get angry responses to his posts.

    He will repeat erroneous information even when people correct him multiple times.

    Don't waste your time answering to this person, he is a troll and will feed on negative emotions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Goodness...

    Yes, they'll copyright themselves directly into obscurity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    "As for "America leading the fashion world" !!!

    Geee,,, dont get out much that guy does he LOL..

    That statement alone shows he has little real knowledge of the fashion industry.. But also shows that Mike will happily repeat the mis-claims if it suits his 'story'."

    You have serious reading comprehension failures, as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 4:20pm

    The comments from Steven Kolb show that fashion designers want this not to promote the progress, but because they feel blatantly entitled to extra protectionism. Yet, as Boyle points out, this can seriously harm the public.

    "What is this "public" you speak of? Is it a trade group? Then Why should we care?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    Kolb is Lying

    Steven Kolb said, "and yet it is basically the only industrialized country that does not provide protection for fashion design."

    There is no such "protection" here in Australia. Kolb is lying and he knows he is lying. Call him on it. Every time he says anything in future, remind him and everybody else that he is a liar. His former lies should follow him around like a bad smell for the rest of his life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:50pm

    The choice is for the creators, not the leaches. want choice?, create !!

    what I said was the CREATOR of the material has a choice to copyright his works or to place his works in the public domain. That is HIS choice.

    If you did not create it, you dont get that choice.

    So if the fashion industry believes it does not need copyright, they dont have to enforce copyright. It is their choice.

    Ofcourse, you do not have that choice, if you want to use someone elses design, UNLESS that person says you can by placing it in the public domain and not giving up any rights to his works.

    I know you are complaining from a consumer point of view, where you want everything. No matter what the creater wants you expect to be able to do with that what you like.

    When that is the case, the creators seek other methods to protect their creations, the main one the fashion industry uses is secrecy.

    So you dont get a choice, you dont get to copy because you dont get to see.

    Especially in the fashion industry when products are highly time critical, that means this seasons fashions are hot sellers and that is why fashion designers dont make their designs available until release.

    Too late for the copyiers to take advantage of it.

    So we can have what we have today, and that is secrecy, and not being able to copy, because they keep their design a close secret.

    Or you can allow copyright laws so they can be less secret, and then have some ability to publish early works, or mabey guilde the market, create a trend.
    And give some other manufacturers some chance of riding the same fashion movement with cheaper products, under license.

    That way the entire market benefits, as does consumers.

    In this case copyright laws would make those designs more available, and far less secret as they are now.

    And if you are a fashion designer who hates secrecy and copyright, place your designes in the public domain..

    See how well that works for you.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 10:19pm

    Re: The choice is for the creators, not the leaches. want choice?, create !!

    I don't want "everything"


    I want free markets that allow more choices of suppliers, resulting in better quality products and competitive pricing.
    What I don't want is abusive monopolies that slow progress and harm the consumer.

    Do remember that copyright laws are only put in place for the betterment of society at large, not to let a few greedy designers get rich from monopoly rents.


    so tell me darryl, how do you propose that fashion copyright promotes the progress of the sciences and useful arts? How is this in any way in the public interest?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    Re: The choice is for the creators, not the leaches. want choice?, create !!

    Seriously, do you just not pay attention to anything that is said?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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