by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 14th 2007 6:04am
For years, the fashion industry has represented a great example to show to people who assume that copyright is necessary to build a thriving creative industry. Copyrights do not protect fashion designs, and while there definitely are copies and knockoffs, that's actually helped the industry thrive. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the derivative versions of the designs make them much more widely known and available, and actually increase the value of the original brand name versions -- since only designs that are really good are seen as being worth copying. More importantly, however, the lack of copyright on fashion designs means that fashion designers need to be more innovative more often. They keep coming up with new designs, because they can't stagnate. Considering that the entire purpose of copyright is supposed to spur more creative works, the fashion industry shows that the lack of monopoly protection is actually a bigger incentive. So, with the highly competitive fashion industry thriving due to the lack of copyright protection, there should be no reason to suddenly add copyrights. Apparently, no one has explained that to the U.S. Senate, which is considering a bill to extend copyrights to fashion designs. Certainly, some fashion designers want this -- because it will let them rest on their laurels. They won't have to be as innovative. There will be less competition. However, there's simply no reason for Congress to step in with special incentives for innovation in a market that is already thriving thanks in large part to the very lack of those "incentives."
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