It's Baaaaaaack, Yet Again: Totally Pointless, Unnecessary & Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Returns

from the oh-come-on dept

For nearly a decade, the fashion industry has been a wonderful example of how a creative industry thrives without copyright law. Multiple studies have demonstrated this. Not only have the studies found that the US fashion industry is a thriving industry, with lots of competition, plenty of players, and tons of innovation, some research has made it clear that it’s the very lack of copyright that has made all of this possible. That’s because the lack of copyright does a few incredibly useful things in the industry. First, it pushes designers to keep coming up with the “next big thing,” since they can’t just rest on their laurels. Second, it’s actually helped create trends that have increased the value of key brands. That is, the fact that anyone can copy a hot new design from a top designer means that ideas permeate faster, and each year’s big trend gets established by the overall market. It also helps to segment the market, as copycat providers cover the low end, which actually makes the high end “designer” products more valuable. Buyers of the copies aspire to eventually be able to get the brand names.

It’s difficult to think of an industry that needs copyright less than the fashion industry. After all, the purpose of copyright is to create incentives for greater innovation, such that the public benefits. And here we have a highly competitive, highly innovative market that addresses what the public wants through market segmentation.

And yet… as always happens with intellectual property, it’s after such benefits accrue that the leaders in the market seek to put in place stricter intellectual property laws. They always claim it’s to “protect” intellectual property, but the reality is that it’s to restrict competition, slow down innovation and allow the top designers greater monopoly rents on their offerings, such that they don’t have to compete as much, nor innovate as much. It’s pure rent seeking.

So, of course, some politicians are pushing it. Senator Chuck Schumer has been the main backer of such a law, egged on by law professor Susan Scafidi, who seems to have made it her life’s cause to get in place such a protectionist, anti-innovation, anti-competition, anti-new fashion designer law. She’s not above falsely implying that this is an issue about counterfeiting. It’s not. We’re talking about perfectly legitimate copies. When people are pushed on this issue, the best they seem to be able to come up with is the idea that when designers have their work copied, it makes people sad.

Scafidi is happily talking up that Congress is going to once again try to pass this unnecessary, economically dangerous and innovation-hindering law. Every year it gets introduced it ends up dying on the vine, but in the last few years, it’s definitely gotten much closer. Unfortunately, it seems like Congress only seems to want to hear from those who support the law, and pays little attention to the tons of evidence that it’s not needed at all.

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Comments on “It's Baaaaaaack, Yet Again: Totally Pointless, Unnecessary & Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Returns”

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37 Comments
anonymous says:

sounds very much like the entertainment industries phylosophy all over again. let it happen. when there is less money going into the government coffers because much less clothing is bought and people dont bother to try to ‘keep up with the latest fashions’ then let them moan. just like the best way to stop piracy is to shut down all the websites that offer ‘legitimate’ content. that way there is nothing to copy and therefore nothing to pirate.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m with up to the last two sentences.

“just like the best way to stop piracy is to shut down all the websites that offer ‘legitimate’ content. that way there is nothing to copy and therefore nothing to pirate.”

I so hope this is some sort of attempt at sarcasm, because it just doesn’t make sense. There was online piracy long before there was online stores offering the products.

As far as I know, very rarely is an pirate copy a copy of something sold online. More often it’s a “rip” from physical medium, if for no other reason than the simple fact that you can get those sooner.

No, the way to “stop piracy” is to actually start to offer the content for sale in a good way online. If they don’t want to sell me the product I want, then they can’t complain about not getting my money. Simple as that.

(And for the record; I bend over backwards every now and then, trying to find an online store that wants to sell me the movies I want, but I have yet to find one that I can use.)

Hugues Lamy (user link) says:

Who benefit front these laws

The real persons that will benefit from these laws are not the designers, not the consumers but the lawyers.

They will start a fight for every piece of cloth that you thing you have copied right or wrong. There’s enough stories on TechDirt to see that any other protected industries are suffering from these lawsuits.

Jay (profile) says:

Innovation = no copyright?

“It’s difficult to think of an industry that needs copyright less than the fashion industry.”

The food industry – Think about if you could invent a new hamburger and hold the rights to it.
The medical industry – You find a new way to extract plasma and copyright it
The entertainment industry – You find a new way to make music without thinking you control distribution. You make a living with fans buying you drinks, selling CDs and T-shirts at concerts, allowing fans to make videos and tribute songs. You don’t have to give blood just to make money for a tour. You don’t have to pay more than the cost of the meat involved for a burger, and you learn how to use economic abundance to make better songs and movies in the future.

I dunno, Mike. Was that a trick question?

Anonymous Coward says:

Just wait for it, after the war between companies copying anothers design next the public will be targeted.

When you purchase your clothes should you where a badge, attach a patch, wear a different belt or scarf or something with said clothing, you have then altered the original item as was copyrighted, and by walking outside in the public you are now broadcasting a new innovation based on a copyrighted design and therefore be arrested, and charged with a felony and spend the rest of your days with rapists, murderers etc. All because you didn’t get permission or pay for a license to alter the original design. Then again you may not need to alter to get in trouble if you don’t pay for the license or according royalties should you wear the clothes in public as its still broadcasting.

Oh wait we are talking about clothes? nevermind I thought we were on about the current digital copyright enforcement efforts. Garden of Eden here we come!!! are leaves copyrighted to…..?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Prison Population Update--does the tedium continue?

“…charged with a felony and spend the rest of your days with rapists, murderers etc.

More like you’ll be spending time with pot-smokers and file infringers… and people who stand up for themselves at the airport, people who believe in free speech and rights, people who record police abusing citizens, not to mention people who are convinced by the FBI to do some “terrorist” activity after the FBI provided them with the materials AND the plan… people who operate a business without paying the customary bribes required by their city/state, people who innovated upon electronics they own but according to some stupid new law are felons now…

Of course, statistically some of those people in prison are probably also murderers and rapists (and arsonists!!) but given how many stupid things people get thrown in jail for nowadays, I wouldn’t sweat it.

out_of_the_blue says:

What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

It’s a totally bizarre market for The Rich that pays no attention to actual costs. — OH, just answered that question for myself. It’s perfectly suited (pun!) to your notions because so removed from the lives of normal people. It’s “artistic”, “creative”, “innovative”, and so on, instead of merely necessary. And of course it’s a favorite with those who wish to flaunt their superior status. — YES, I SEE WHY YOU BRING IT UP SO OFTEN.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

Yeah, absolutely. Clothes are such a bourgeois, mind-numbingly, nose-wrinklingly, finger-down-throatingly boring upper-class concept, don?t you think? So much better to be comfortable in our own unadorned skins. Glad to see somebody else is equally comfortable in his own unadorned skin. How about you and I meet up and hang out and be comfortable in our unadorned skins together? Whaddaya say, bluezy-boy?

Anonymous Coward says:

But wait… the more restrictions we put in place the faster our overall collapse and decay right? Let’s push more and more control, put more draconian laws and regulations into place, and then watch every country surpass us in every way! After all, we are striving for complete failure in all ways… right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Bill number HR 2511

I do like two parts of the bill text:

a) it says that independent creation is not considered copying

b) It allows for what it calls a “home-sewing exception”. This allows for people to make single non-commercial copies for their own family’s use.

These ideas need to be part of the patent reform discussions.

gorehound (profile) says:

Why Not Copyright Everything ?

I will run to the patent office as quick as possible and copyright “blue jeans” pants.
And I should also copy right underwear and adult diapers.Why adult diapers ? those i can use to mail to the fools in washington who support copyright fashion.

Hhhhhhhmmmm…………..
might as well copyright “Hot Dogs” and “Hamburgs”.

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