Designer Leading The Charge For Fashion Copyright… Caught Copying Someone Else's Design
from the well-how-about-that dept
For many, many years, we’ve pointed to the growing body of research on how the fashion industry thrives, in part, because of its lack of copyright. However, time and time again, we hear about attempts by big designers to add a special fashion copyright. This makes no sense. The purpose of copyright law is to create incentives to create new works. Yet, the fashion industry is thriving. It’s highly competitive and very innovative, as designers keep looking to outdo one another. At the same time, the “knockoffs” help spread the concept of “what’s fashionable” up and down the economic spectrum in record time. This is not an industry that needs “incentives” for creativity. The only reason to put in place such a law is to prevent competition, not to encourage more innovation.
Now, leading the charge for such copyright protection is famed designer Diane von Furstenberg, who beyond being a top designer, is also president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). CFDA has been the major promoter of such a copyright for clothing design, and runs a site called StopFashionPiracy.com. You would think that von Furstenberg would be quite careful to only to come up with her own design ideas. Not so fast. This story is actually about a year old, but Public Knowledge just brought it to our attention. It seems that von Furstenberg was caught blatantly copying another (less well known) designer’s design.
Of course, as soon as the story broke in the press, von Furstenberg had her lawyer call up the other designer and offer to pay up. As the National Post, notes, the level of hypocrisy is striking:
Let’s remember that when she and other designers accuse chains like Forever 21 and Anthropologie for alleged garment plagiarism and talk about the intellectual property issue in general, copycatters are vilified as “pirates.” Yet when a garment from DvF’s own brand is found to be uncannily similar to another designer’s, it’s positioned as an accident, an honest mistake.
We’ve seen this before, over and over again. The strongest defenders of monopoly rights so often are caught blatantly violating the laws themselves… and then twist themselves into knots to try to explain why their position is consistent — insisting it was just a “mistake.” Once again, all this really highlights is that the point of IP laws is to let incumbents keep down upstarts, rather than encouraging new creativity.