Copyright Law Is Not Supposed To Protect Someone From Being Upset
from the shouldn't-law-professors-know-this? dept
Susan Scafidi, a law professor focused on fashion law, has been one of the key driving forces behind one of the least needed, most pointless ideas in a long time: the march to extend copyright laws to fashion. The economic evidence on this is almost entirely in agreement: the fashion industry thrives without fashion copyright. In fact, there’s tremendous evidence that the lack of fashion copyright helps it thrive in a variety of ways: it increases the dispersion of trends, by allowing copycat designers to spread the trends more widely, more quickly (especially in the lower end of the market). This actually increases the value of the high end designers, by making people aspire for the real thing. It also encourages ever more innovation and new ideas in the field, because designers have to keep trying to come out with something new.
And yet, for reasons that remain unclear, Scafidi continues to lead this charge for fashion copyright. In some interviews, she cleverly mixes counterfeits with legal copies to confuse people who don’t understand the issue.
But in a recent blog post, she seems to explain her reason for supporting fashion copyright: because she doesn’t want people to feel bad. At least that’s the only way I can understand her post about copying the royal wedding dress, which kicks off with this story:
At the wedding of a twin years ago, a group of friends gathered around the bride at the reception to compliment her dress. Her sister and maid of honor, who was to be married only a few months later, added, “You look beautiful. I should wear it too.”
The rather unlovely bride — at least in terms of temperament — turned and snapped, “Why would I let you do that?! We’re already identical, and this is my dress!” An awkward silence fell as the twin sisters glared at each other.
Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. The proper response from a policy perspective is so what? Copyright law has never been about helping people avoid “awkard” silences and angry siblings. Copyright has never concerned itself with the idea that someone might “feel bad” that someone else copied them. Copyright is about promoting the progress of science. It seems bizarre that Scafidi would so misrepresent the very basis of copyright law in an attempt to make an emotional argument to push for an unnecessary change to copyright law that would do plenty of harm without really helping anyone.