If The Fashion Industry Doesn't Get Special Copyrights, The Terrorists Will Win
from the who-else-can-we-help? dept
Having seen the Senate create a special patent exemption for banks, it should come as no surprise that plenty of other industries are looking for special intellectual property treatment as well. Take, for example, the fashion industry. Years back, we noted that the fashion industry was a near perfect example of a creative industry that thrived despite no copyright protection on clothing designs. It showed what a myth it was that creation and innovation would stop in the absence of copyright law. In fact, studies began to show that it was that exact lack of copyright that drove the industry to be so innovative. That was for two reasons. First, designers had to constantly be innovating. An old design is an old design and they couldn’t rest on their laurels, but had to keep creating newer and better designs. Second, by allowing knockoffs to hit the market, it actually helped promote the designer versions, and make those legitimate versions even more valuable.
Given all that, it’s pretty difficult to understand why Congress decided to introduce new legislation specifically extending copyright to the fashion industry. Research suggested that such a copyright would effectively kill the fashion industry. It’s about as backwards a law as you can get. The purpose of copyright is to create an incentive for new and innovative content — and here’s an industry where a ton of new and innovative content is created all the time without it. To any right thinking person, it should be clear that no copyright is needed. And, yet, Congress moves forward with the effort.
As the bill is being discussed, Congress has apparently held a hearing entitled: “Are Special Provisions Needed to Protect Unique Industries?” The answer should be a pretty clear “no,” but instead, people were treated to an explanation of how a lack of copyright in the fashion industry would mean that the terrorists, organized criminals and child pornographers would win:
“Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.”
Note, of course, that where the proceeds of such sales go has no bearing, whatsoever, on the the issue of copyright. But don’t think that won’t stop the fashion industry from setting this up as an emotional issue. And, of course, it’s not just the fashion industry. The report also notes that the automobile makers showed up at the hearing as well, claiming that they need special copyright protections on car part designs. Who else wants to step up and ask for special protections?