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
    Hephaestus (profile), 23 Aug 2010 @ 7:17am

    Hmmm

    What do I want to copyright if this bill goes though ...

    Button up dress shirts, pants, shorts, and skirts.

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