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. identicon
    darryl, 23 Aug 2010 @ 9:22am

    America leading the fashion world !!! LOL

    Your "troubled" by some fashion designers seeking copyright, and you dont understand why if the system is not broken right...

    Clearly, you do not work in the field, and its also clear that the actual fashion designers see there is a problem. And can see copyright as a way to rectify that problem.

    So what is the problem again, if as you say the fashion industry works well without copyright, 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.

    The reason why you seem to think the system is not broken is because there seem to be little in the way of copyright type disputes in fashion.

    But that is because those fashion designers keep there work highly proprietary until release, and realease and the 'fashion show' shows everyone in the industry their designs.

    That is in itself its own form of copyright, its just not possible to copy someone elses fashion design and not be noticed for doing it.

    Its just how that industry is, it would be the same with software if each peice of software was so unique that you could tell at a glance who designed it.

    As for "America leading the fashion world" !!!

    Geee,,, dont get out much that guy does he LOL..

    That statement alone shows he has little real knowledge of the fashion industry.. But also shows that Mike will happily repeat the mis-claims if it suits his 'story'.

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