Newsweek Explains Why Fashion Designers Don't Need Copyright

from the good-to-see dept

For many years, we've been troubled by the effort by some fashion designers to add a totally unnecessary copyright to fashion design. We had noted that the fashion industry was actually a great example of a creative industry that was thriving without copyrights. It's quite innovative and has a ton of competition, which is what we'd like to see -- so it never made sense that some politicians keep introducing a bill to extend copyright protection to fashion designers. This year, Sen. Chuck Schumer is back again with another attempt at extending copyright to fashion, and he's been able to sign up a large number of co-sponsors. In the past, similar proposals haven't gone far, but there's a feeling that there may be some momentum behind it this year.

Thankfully, some in the mainstream press are calling foul. Over at Newsweek, Ezra Klein has a fantastic column questioning the need for this bill and highlighting just how ridiculous it is. My favorite part is the following:
But perhaps the strongest argument is that America's apparel industry doesn't seem broken--so why try and fix it? "America is the world fashion leader," said Steven Kolb, director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the lead trade group in support of the Schumer bill, "and yet it is basically the only industrialized country that does not provide protection for fashion design."

Run that by me one more time? We're the world leader in fashion, so we should change our policy to mimic our lagging competitors?
Klein quotes Jamie Boyle, pointing out that:
"Intellectual property is legalized monopoly," says James Boyle, a professor at Duke Law School. "And like any monopoly, its tendency is to raise prices and diminish availability. We should have a high burden of proof for whether it's necessary."
Indeed. The supporters of this bill don't seem to realize that copyright is supposed to be about "promoting the progress," not about "protecting an industry." The comments from Steven Kolb show that fashion designers want this not to promote the progress, but because they feel blatantly entitled to extra protectionism. Yet, as Boyle points out, this can seriously harm the public. There should be a high burden of proof to show that any such expansion of copyright law is necessary, and the evidence (as even Kolb implicitly admits) is totally lacking.

Filed Under: chuck schumer, copyright, fashion industry

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  1. icon
    Money Mike (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    Admittedly, I've been away from techdirt for a little while, so I fear that I may be replying to someone who's a well-known anti-techdirt, waste-of-time troll, but I'll take that risk anyway.

    You so ineloquently said: "then those fashion designers who want to keep working without copyright on their works can do so.
    Those that want the copyright can do that,,, its called choice.
    No one is forcing anyone to enforce copyright, just the right to do so if they wish."

    Now, I don't know if you were being serious or not, but I have to comment on the absurdity of that statement as if you were. A copyright applies to everyone - not just those who are in favor of it. If I decide to create a new song and sample an older song (created by someone else) for the chorus, and then the music label behind that older song decides to sue me for copyright infringement, I cannot simply tell them "oh, I'm sorry you had to waste your time, but I don't actually agree with copyright laws." That just won't work. It doesn't matter if I disagree with them. I, as a new artist in this example, must succumb to copyright laws. That means I would have NO CHOICE.

    Even if I was the other person in that example and it was the other artist who sampled my music for their song, my music label (despite my preference) would most likely go after that other artist for copyright infringement. It doesn't matter if I disagree with them. Again, I must succumb to copyright laws. That means I would have NO CHOICE.

    It's not that you're (noticed how I spelled that?) stupid, it's just that haven't thought this through. Although, if that's a recurring problem for you, that could actually be the issue. If I confused you at all, you may want to ask your mom to help you with the big words.

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