A Look At How The Fashion Industry Thrives Without Copyright
from the oh-look... dept
We’ve discussed how the fashion industry is an excellent example of how a creative industry can thrive and be highly competitive and innovative without copyright many times before. In fact, way back in 2003, we noted that there was much that the entertainment industry could learn from the fashion industry. Since then, we’ve seen academic research highlighting how much of the success in the industry was due to the lack of copyright, because it helped spur continuous innovation, rather than letting someone rest on their laurels. On top of that, it also helped segment the market, speed diffusion, build out trends and actually increase the reputation of top designers.
Given all that, we could never understand why some top designers (though, certainly certainly not all) are so desperate to get a special copyright on fashion, despite the suggestions it would actually stifle the market quite a bit. They’ve been relying on highly questionable research from a lawyer, which doesn’t stand up to the most basic economic analysis.
However, there are folks who are pointing out how important the lack of copyright protection is in the fashion industry. Peter Tanham points us to a recently posted TED talk by Johanna Blakely about how the fashion industry thrives without copyright:
The thing that disappointed me about the presentation, frankly, is that while it’s titled: “Lessons from fashion’s free culture” Blakely never really gets that deeply into the lessons. She does talk about a few other areas of creative endeavors where copyright is not allowed for the most part (recipes, cars, furniture, etc.) and has an amusing slide that compares the revenue generated in industries with copyright and those not protected by copyright (the “not protected by copyright” part vastly outweighs the “protected by copyright” side). I’d like to see that slide in a bit more detail, because, while amusing, it threatens to fall into the same trap as the recent Chamber of Commerce report that tries to claim the exact opposite. It says that copyright protected industries contribute a lot more to the economy than non-covered industries. In both cases, though, I fear that there’s some cherry-picking of data and questionable classifications.
I do think that there’s a ton to learn from industries like the fashion industry — including suggestions on ways those lessons can be applied to industries like music and movies. Hopefully we’ll start seeing a deeper analysis on that soon.