It's Baaaaaaack, Yet Again: Totally Pointless, Unnecessary & Damaging Fashion Copyright Bill Returns

from the oh-come-on dept

For nearly a decade, the fashion industry has been a wonderful example of how a creative industry thrives without copyright law. Multiple studies have demonstrated this. Not only have the studies found that the US fashion industry is a thriving industry, with lots of competition, plenty of players, and tons of innovation, some research has made it clear that it's the very lack of copyright that has made all of this possible. That's because the lack of copyright does a few incredibly useful things in the industry. First, it pushes designers to keep coming up with the "next big thing," since they can't just rest on their laurels. Second, it's actually helped create trends that have increased the value of key brands. That is, the fact that anyone can copy a hot new design from a top designer means that ideas permeate faster, and each year's big trend gets established by the overall market. It also helps to segment the market, as copycat providers cover the low end, which actually makes the high end "designer" products more valuable. Buyers of the copies aspire to eventually be able to get the brand names.

It's difficult to think of an industry that needs copyright less than the fashion industry. After all, the purpose of copyright is to create incentives for greater innovation, such that the public benefits. And here we have a highly competitive, highly innovative market that addresses what the public wants through market segmentation.

And yet... as always happens with intellectual property, it's after such benefits accrue that the leaders in the market seek to put in place stricter intellectual property laws. They always claim it's to "protect" intellectual property, but the reality is that it's to restrict competition, slow down innovation and allow the top designers greater monopoly rents on their offerings, such that they don't have to compete as much, nor innovate as much. It's pure rent seeking.

So, of course, some politicians are pushing it. Senator Chuck Schumer has been the main backer of such a law, egged on by law professor Susan Scafidi, who seems to have made it her life's cause to get in place such a protectionist, anti-innovation, anti-competition, anti-new fashion designer law. She's not above falsely implying that this is an issue about counterfeiting. It's not. We're talking about perfectly legitimate copies. When people are pushed on this issue, the best they seem to be able to come up with is the idea that when designers have their work copied, it makes people sad.

Scafidi is happily talking up that Congress is going to once again try to pass this unnecessary, economically dangerous and innovation-hindering law. Every year it gets introduced it ends up dying on the vine, but in the last few years, it's definitely gotten much closer. Unfortunately, it seems like Congress only seems to want to hear from those who support the law, and pays little attention to the tons of evidence that it's not needed at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    This is great news, soon innovation will be slowed down so much that the only fashion available would be brown boiler suits. Never have to worry again about keeping up with fashion trends. :D

     

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  2.  
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    Matt (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    Meh....

    I hated clothes shopping anyway.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    Retroactive

    why not suggest they make it a retroactive law and see how many of the incumbents are willing to support it when they're told they must never have copied anothers work

     

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  4.  
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    anonymous, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    sounds very much like the entertainment industries phylosophy all over again. let it happen. when there is less money going into the government coffers because much less clothing is bought and people dont bother to try to 'keep up with the latest fashions' then let them moan. just like the best way to stop piracy is to shut down all the websites that offer 'legitimate' content. that way there is nothing to copy and therefore nothing to pirate.

     

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  5.  
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    Hugues Lamy (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Who benefit front these laws

    The real persons that will benefit from these laws are not the designers, not the consumers but the lawyers.

    They will start a fight for every piece of cloth that you thing you have copied right or wrong. There's enough stories on TechDirt to see that any other protected industries are suffering from these lawsuits.

     

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  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    Awesome. For every display of sanity and wisdom from US Govt there are freakloads of displays of insanity and stupidity.

    Srsly?

     

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  7.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Innovation = no copyright?

    "It's difficult to think of an industry that needs copyright less than the fashion industry."

    The food industry - Think about if you could invent a new hamburger and hold the rights to it.
    The medical industry - You find a new way to extract plasma and copyright it
    The entertainment industry - You find a new way to make music without thinking you control distribution. You make a living with fans buying you drinks, selling CDs and T-shirts at concerts, allowing fans to make videos and tribute songs. You don't have to give blood just to make money for a tour. You don't have to pay more than the cost of the meat involved for a burger, and you learn how to use economic abundance to make better songs and movies in the future.

    I dunno, Mike. Was that a trick question?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Just wait for it, after the war between companies copying anothers design next the public will be targeted.

    When you purchase your clothes should you where a badge, attach a patch, wear a different belt or scarf or something with said clothing, you have then altered the original item as was copyrighted, and by walking outside in the public you are now broadcasting a new innovation based on a copyrighted design and therefore be arrested, and charged with a felony and spend the rest of your days with rapists, murderers etc. All because you didn't get permission or pay for a license to alter the original design. Then again you may not need to alter to get in trouble if you don't pay for the license or according royalties should you wear the clothes in public as its still broadcasting.

    Oh wait we are talking about clothes? nevermind I thought we were on about the current digital copyright enforcement efforts. Garden of Eden here we come!!! are leaves copyrighted to.....?

     

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  9.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Retroactive

    Laws don't apply to politicians.

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    Re: Prison Population Update--does the tedium continue?

    "...charged with a felony and spend the rest of your days with rapists, murderers etc."
    More like you'll be spending time with pot-smokers and file infringers... and people who stand up for themselves at the airport, people who believe in free speech and rights, people who record police abusing citizens, not to mention people who are convinced by the FBI to do some "terrorist" activity after the FBI provided them with the materials AND the plan... people who operate a business without paying the customary bribes required by their city/state, people who innovated upon electronics they own but according to some stupid new law are felons now...

    Of course, statistically some of those people in prison are probably also murderers and rapists (and arsonists!!) but given how many stupid things people get thrown in jail for nowadays, I wouldn't sweat it.

     

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  11.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

    It's a totally bizarre market for The Rich that pays no attention to actual costs. -- OH, just answered that question for myself. It's perfectly suited (pun!) to your notions because so removed from the lives of normal people. It's "artistic", "creative", "innovative", and so on, instead of merely necessary. And of course it's a favorite with those who wish to flaunt their superior status. -- YES, I SEE WHY YOU BRING IT UP SO OFTEN.

     

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  12.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Re: What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

    Are you insinuating that Mike Masnick is artistic, creative, innovative and more than merely necessary?

    Very good then, carry on.

    ;-P

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    But wait... the more restrictions we put in place the faster our overall collapse and decay right? Let's push more and more control, put more draconian laws and regulations into place, and then watch every country surpass us in every way! After all, we are striving for complete failure in all ways... right?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Abolish Copyright!

     

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  15.  
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    Lauriel (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Prison Population Update--does the tedium continue?

    I don't know whether to hit the 'insightful' button or the 'funny' button for this one. Maybe we need a 'true, but sad' button as well.

    Anyway, it was well said.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:16am

    Bill number HR 2511

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Re: Bill number HR 2511

    I do like two parts of the bill text:

    a) it says that independent creation is not considered copying

    b) It allows for what it calls a "home-sewing exception". This allows for people to make single non-commercial copies for their own family's use.

    These ideas need to be part of the patent reform discussions.

     

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  18.  
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    The Incoherent One (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:37am

    Re: Innovation = no copyright?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    The Incoherent One (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Bill number HR 2511

    Careful now, that would just make a little too much sense, and might even border on being somewhat fair.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re:

    Your comment needs "Sad but True" button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    abolish patents!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Innovation = no copyright?

    Yeah, I know...

    It probably kills more than it helps thanks to Big Pharma...

    I was just hoping that in these fields, there could be changes to remove those artificial scarcities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Re: Who benefit front these laws

    It's mostly lawyers pushing for and defending IP laws. Many IP defenders on Techdirt and other blogs comment from interested (and sometimes patent trolling) law firms (as MM has pointed out based on their hostmask). IP is a sham and those supporting it are shills.

     

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  24.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Lousy pirates and their sewing machines are killing the clothing industry.

     

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  25.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Why Not Copyright Everything ?

    I will run to the patent office as quick as possible and copyright "blue jeans" pants.
    And I should also copy right underwear and adult diapers.Why adult diapers ? those i can use to mail to the fools in washington who support copyright fashion.

    Hhhhhhhmmmm..............
    might as well copyright "Hot Dogs" and "Hamburgs".

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re: Bill number HR 2511

    There's supposed to be a hearing on it today:

    http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_07152011.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Miff (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

    You rich people with your clothes have no idea what the concerns for the (naked) little guys.

     

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  28.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Bill number HR 2511

    " This allows for people to make single non-commercial copies for their own family's use."

    ... That's still illogical. What if you have two daughters that like the same dress, buy enough material, and do their own work?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bill number HR 2511

    Good point

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re:

    Abolish pants!

     

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  31.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Innovation = no copyright?

    It's hard to argue that any of those industries need copyright less than the fashion industry when fashion doesn't need it at all.

     

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  32.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re: What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

    You're suggesting the lives of normal people only include necessities, and nothing artistic, creative, or innovative?

     

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  33.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Retroactive

    Politicians aren't the 'incumbents' being referred to...

     

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  34.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Jul 15th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Re: Innovation = no copyright?

    Sweet god in heaven, don't give FOOD copyrights!

     

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  35.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 15th, 2011 @ 9:43pm

    Re: What is it with you and the "fashion industry"?

    Yeah, absolutely. Clothes are such a bourgeois, mind-numbingly, nose-wrinklingly, finger-down-throatingly boring upper-class concept, donít you think? So much better to be comfortable in our own unadorned skins. Glad to see somebody else is equally comfortable in his own unadorned skin. How about you and I meet up and hang out and be comfortable in our unadorned skins together? Whaddaya say, bluezy-boy?

     

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  36.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Jul 17th, 2011 @ 1:08am

    Re:

    I'm with up to the last two sentences.

    "just like the best way to stop piracy is to shut down all the websites that offer 'legitimate' content. that way there is nothing to copy and therefore nothing to pirate."

    I so hope this is some sort of attempt at sarcasm, because it just doesn't make sense. There was online piracy long before there was online stores offering the products.

    As far as I know, very rarely is an pirate copy a copy of something sold online. More often it's a "rip" from physical medium, if for no other reason than the simple fact that you can get those sooner.

    No, the way to "stop piracy" is to actually start to offer the content for sale in a good way online. If they don't want to sell me the product I want, then they can't complain about not getting my money. Simple as that.

    (And for the record; I bend over backwards every now and then, trying to find an online store that wants to sell me the movies I want, but I have yet to find one that I can use.)

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2011 @ 5:19am

    This kind of legislation would hurt people who can not wear the sizes offered by fashion designers. Their only alternative is to find a custom tailor to make them a copy that fits or be deprived of this means of enhancing their lives.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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