Earlier this month, we wrote about Senator Chuck Schumer's misguided plan
to extend copyright protection to the fashion industry. As we've noted in the past, this makes absolutely no sense. The purpose of copyright is to create incentives for new creative content -- but the fashion industry already has those incentives. It's already quite competitive with designers constantly coming up with new designs. In other words, there's no reason
to add artificial incentives for creativity. In fact, recent research suggested that the entire reason that the fashion industry is as successful as it has been is because of the lack of copyright
for fashion designs. David Levine
now points us to another analysis, suggesting how adding copyrights to fashion designs could kill the fashion industry
, by killing the biggest thing that helps the industry thrive: trends.
"People don't buy new clothes because they need them--they buy them to keep up with the latest style. The fashion industry responds to our desires by churning out new designs at a rapid clip. But fashion designers don't maroon themselves on a desert island to create their work. Designers pay close attention to the work of their peers, and they love to mine the past for ideas. When they see something that they like, they copy it--or, in the argot of the industry, they "reference" it.... The result is the fashion industry's most sacred concept: the trend. Copying makes trends, and trends are what sell fashion.... And the trend-driven copying of attractive designs ensures that those designs diffuse rapidly in the marketplace. This, in turn, makes the early adopters want a new style, because nothing is less attractive than seeing your carefully chosen clothes on the backs of the hoi polloi. In short, copying is the engine that drives the fashion cycle."
The article goes on to discuss exactly how Schumer's bill would kill this process. The article also, strangely, insists that the reasons why copyright would hurt the fashion industry don't apply to other industries, despite little proof of that fact. The fashion industry shows how little artificial monopolies are needed when you have plenty of other market incentives for compensating creators. That can apply just as well to many different industries.