If The Fashion Industry Doesn't Get Special Copyrights, The Terrorists Will Win

from the who-else-can-we-help? dept

Having seen the Senate create a special patent exemption for banks, it should come as no surprise that plenty of other industries are looking for special intellectual property treatment as well. Take, for example, the fashion industry. Years back, we noted that the fashion industry was a near perfect example of a creative industry that thrived despite no copyright protection on clothing designs. It showed what a myth it was that creation and innovation would stop in the absence of copyright law. In fact, studies began to show that it was that exact lack of copyright that drove the industry to be so innovative. That was for two reasons. First, designers had to constantly be innovating. An old design is an old design and they couldn't rest on their laurels, but had to keep creating newer and better designs. Second, by allowing knockoffs to hit the market, it actually helped promote the designer versions, and make those legitimate versions even more valuable.

Given all that, it's pretty difficult to understand why Congress decided to introduce new legislation specifically extending copyright to the fashion industry. Research suggested that such a copyright would effectively kill the fashion industry. It's about as backwards a law as you can get. The purpose of copyright is to create an incentive for new and innovative content -- and here's an industry where a ton of new and innovative content is created all the time without it. To any right thinking person, it should be clear that no copyright is needed. And, yet, Congress moves forward with the effort.

As the bill is being discussed, Congress has apparently held a hearing entitled: "Are Special Provisions Needed to Protect Unique Industries?" The answer should be a pretty clear "no," but instead, people were treated to an explanation of how a lack of copyright in the fashion industry would mean that the terrorists, organized criminals and child pornographers would win:
"Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia."
Note, of course, that where the proceeds of such sales go has no bearing, whatsoever, on the the issue of copyright. But don't think that won't stop the fashion industry from setting this up as an emotional issue. And, of course, it's not just the fashion industry. The report also notes that the automobile makers showed up at the hearing as well, claiming that they need special copyright protections on car part designs. Who else wants to step up and ask for special protections?
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Filed Under: congress, copyright, fashion industry


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  1. identicon
    dualboot, 17 Feb 2008 @ 10:26am

    a long leap

    My concern is that some people somewhere must actually believe that terrorists are behind fashion copying. I would think that they would want to blend in with the clothing that everyone else is already wearing, rather than to have the newest, trendiest, soon-to-be-released outfits. Also, if they're terrorists, why would they draw attention to themselves by committing such petty crimes? Wouldn't they want to keep their reputations clean in order to avoid suspicion? Seems to me that if someone's really a terrorist, and has the resources and intellect to carry out a grand terrorism scheme under the noses of the government, that they wouldn't be stupid enough to be the ones copying designs.

    ALSO... I sew some of my own clothing. I have purchased shirts that I like, but that don't come in my exact size, cut them apart at the seams, retraced it on pattern paper and made the appropriate adjustments, and then made my own shirt from it. Now, would the copyright apply to this, since it doesn't come in my size? (I'm a relatively big girl, but am not willing to wear the boxy crap they sell for plus-size women). AND, would the copyright apply just to the original design (e.g. size 0 or size 2), or would it apply to all scaled versions of the design? I mean, someone can copyright a movie, but they don't then own the copyright on the spoof of the movie, last I checked... so wouldn't the real-person sizes be the equivalent of the spoof?

    Anyway, go ahead and trace my ip address or whatever you want. I'm not a terrorist, but I'm NOT going to stop making clothing in my own size just because someone thinks we need to protect the people who sell the originals in sizes that don't fit me. If they make them in affordable prices and in more sizes, I might just buy all of my clothing (it's alot of labor to make them myself anyways), but until that happens (aka: never), I will continue to do my thing.

    Also... wouldn't making this a copyright infringement issue just cause the people who do it to better conceal the fact that they're making reproductions and selling them? Perhaps even driving up the price of the reproductions for those of us who can't afford a $250 purse... we'll just stick to the local thrift store for our purses, and will still NEVER spend any real money on a purse.

    Okay, my rant is done. My point is, it won't stop people from copying, and it's a real stretch to think that the terrorists are the ones selling the knock-off Donna Karon purses in Tijuana for $10, or the fake Rolex watches in China Town for $35. Sheesh!

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