It's Back: Totally Unnecessary And Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Reintroduced

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

We’ve discussed over and over and over again how the fashion industry absolutely thrives without copyright protection. In fact, much of the research shows that it thrives because of the lack of copyright. The lack of copyright in fashion does a few useful things: (1) it actually helps disseminate concepts faster, creating important trends that drive the industry forward (2) it helps create important customer segmentation in the market, which actually increases the value of top designers (3) it drives fashion designers to be more innovative and to keep innovating. And all of it works. The fashion industry is highly dynamic, rapidly innovating and highly competitive. So it seems absolutely contrary to basic common sense to introduce a copyright law aimed at adding copyright to fashion.

So, of course, fashion designers and politicians keep doing it. Pretty much every year Chuck Schumer trots out just such a bill, and this year is no different. Reader Steve Phillips points us to the announcement of the bill being introduced and ReallyEvilCanine points us to a celebratory post by a professor who was involved in drafting the bill. This time around the bill has Senators Boxer, Feinstein, Hatch, Graham & Hutchison as co-sponsors, so there’s quite a bit of firepower, as they seek to build up protectionist policies that may benefit a few top designers, but will significantly harm up-and-comers. Just as we’ve seen throughout history, intellectual property protections lag innovation, rather than cause it. That’s because the top players in the space use those laws to reduce, not enhance, competition. This is no exception.

Of course, Schumer’s been unable to shove through this disaster-in-waiting the past few times he’s tried, so hopefully it goes nowhere again, but if you want to see regulatory capture in action, here you go. In the meantime, if this should actually go through, we eagerly await the first major supporter of the bill getting caught copying someone else’s design.

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Comments on “It's Back: Totally Unnecessary And Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Reintroduced”

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40 Comments
ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Seen this movie, know how it ends

Frankly, I’m annoyed enough at the ‘fashion industry’ that I hope they do adopt such measures.

Were the good guys’ collars in “Inception” Edwardian or Art Deco? Who owns the rights to that? Was that a work for hire?

Is that skirt tulip or pencil!? ‘Cause I totally own tulip…

DIAF.

Joe Lazy says:

Seeing the wrong angle

Has it ever occurred to these knuckleheads that one of the many reasons why our country has succeeded in the past is because we had to actually work hard to do so? Do they even consider all of the creativity, imagination, and just plain effort that will get stifled because of an inane law like that?

We’re getting soft and lazy, and the only cure is competition that can be as genuine and open as this legalistic society can allow.

Bob (profile) says:

thrives?

I hate to break it to you dreamers, but the fashion industry is not thriving in the United States. The name of the game is controlling the production and that means tight relationships with the sweatshops in China. There’s no such thing as an independent designer or a small producer. If you don’t have a sweatshop executing on your designs and delivering them to the store when they’re fresh, you’re worthless. The big chains will take your designs and fax them to China without your permission. And all you can do is cry because there’s no protection what so ever.

Now compare the young, independent fashion designer to the young, independent musician or novelist. Yes, the musician and novelist will end up giving away a substantial fraction of their income to the conglomerates, but they’ll have a legal structure to demand a fraction of the income. Is it fair? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s something. The musician and novelist doesn’t need to figure out how to produce and market a product like the independent designer, they can work on their craft.

There are hundreds of thousands of novels and CD published each year. Only a few make money, but no one is duplicating the work of the independents. How many fashion designers are there?

kathleen (user link) says:

Re: thrives?

The name of the game is controlling the production and that means tight relationships with the sweatshops in China. There’s no such thing as an independent designer or a small producer. If you don’t have a sweatshop executing on your designs and delivering them to the store when they’re fresh, you’re worthless.

I’m aghast someone would say such a thing in public; the least of which is your use of term “sweatshop”. It is offensive. It’s bandied about with little thought or veracity.

You imply that someone merely needs an offshore connection and off they go. Vacillating between outrage and sarcasm, I can’t decide if I should beg you to teach me all you know because I obviously don’t know nearly as much even after my 3 decades in the trade or whether I should just ignore you. And no independent designers? Really? Gee, I must be more delusional than I thought working with independents as I do. I have to admit I’m having a cognitive dissonance attack in that I’m having a hard time reconciling the non-existence of designers with daily deposits in my checking account. Maybe it’s fairies. Yeah, that’s it. Fairies.

Now compare the young, independent fashion designer to the young, independent musician or novelist. Yes, the musician and novelist will end up giving away a substantial fraction of their income …The musician and novelist doesn’t need to figure out how to produce and market a product like the independent designer, they can work on their craft.

Designers are better defined as entrepreneurs rather than artists. Furthermore, there is little difference btwn them and a widget inventor; they produce PRODUCTS for sale in the marketplace. I can tell you something very surely, those who view themselves as artists and cloak themselves amid the trappings of it are doomed to fail. Besides, do you all have any idea how tiny the percentage of designers is such that you describe? 7% of the market at most. MOST “designers” produce sewn products like baby diapers or chair covers. Sewn products are 55% of the market. Independent designers are better defined as manufacturers. Legally and for all practicable purposes, that is exactly what they are.

How many fashion designers are there?

I wouldn’t know, at least thousands. I have 5,000 to 8,000 visiting my site every day.

As far as this law is concerned, the jury is still out but it is so narrow and difficult to prove anything that it will be effectively marginalized. Once the hullabaloo dies down, everything will be back to normal. Thank goodness. The earlier law would have put 90% of designers and the service providers who depend on them for their livelihoods, out of business.

Chris says:

Leaves out an important issue.

There is another side of this story; fashion designers to not get paid very well. While the industry benefits, the designers do not. It is inapposite to consider the benefits to the industry when the issue is the benefits to the designer. Perhaps a thoughtful inquiry into whether designers’ work merits copyright is more appropriate. This article fails to do that.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: But...

…How would a small designer ever actually collect? The big companies will now just steal the designs, fight in court, and the designer still gets squat.

The mistake you’re making is assuming they need to collect from other designers. Not so. Use the fact that a bigger designer copied your design to get some publicity for your own design — and use that to market your newer designs, and you start to get more attention.

And then you make money the way anyone should: by selling actual products.

Anonymous Coward says:

I keep reading comments about the evils of a government establish “right”, with Exhibit 1 being various articles making broad, unsubstantiaed, anectodatal claims that the “industry” is working just fine in the absence of such “rights”.

To bring balance to any discussion over a matter such as this, it would be helpful to understand the rationale underlying why various persons and companies are in favor of such legislation. With that information in hand competiting positions can be ascretained and the merits/demerits of such positions examined. This is something that I have as yet to see. Saying something is bad is certainly not proof that it is. Saying something is good is certainly not proof that it is.

Perhaps this site would like to consider separate articles form proponents and opponents that can then be used to formulate competing arguments useful in helping people under stand the issues involved in this matter.

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