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Will the Fashion Copyright Bill Stifle Innovation?

Good overview of from The Atlantic Wire:

Will the Fashion Copyright Bill Stifle Innovation?

By Erik Hayden | August 10, 2010 1:33pm

Will the Fashion Copyright Bill Stifle Innovation?Click here to find out more!

When Chuck Schumer reintroduced the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act in Congress, industry insiders hailed it as a breakthrough for high-end fashion designers looking to protect their work from the copycats and ripoffs that inevitably appear after a trend comes into vogue. But as opinion begins to trickle in about the proposed legislation, some critics are bit more skeptical about the merits of the bill.

Rather than encouraging innovation, skeptics argue that fashion copyrighting could ensure certain designers maintain a monopoly on fashion trends and stifle the need for constant reinvention.

Here’s a snapshot of how the debate evolved:

  • We Don’t Need Fashion Copyrights explains Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress. While copyrighting makes sense in other industries, say, in recording, the bill will only serve to stifle creativity and innovation in the fashion design world. He writes, “Fashion leaders introduce new concepts, and cheaper imitators come along and follow the pack. In order to remain distinctive, the leaders are driven to further imitate. Meanwhile, everybody has plenty of clothes and styles in tie-width, skirt-length, etc. oscillate around.” Yet that doesn’t stop these leading designers from going to Congress to seek “government-sponsored monopolies” on the industry.
  • It’s Totally Unnecessary and Potentially Damaging grumbles Mike Masnick at Techdirt. The fashion industry thrives because of the lack of copywriting for these reasons: “(1) it actually helps disseminate concepts faster, creating important trends that drive the industry forward (2) it helps create important customer segmentation in the market, which actually increases the value of top designers (3) it drives fashion designers to be more innovative and to keep innovating. And all of it works.”
  • Is It the End of the Democratization of Fashion? asks Justin Fenner at Styleite. The bill “extends a three-year copyright protection on virtually all items of fashion from the moment they’re first displayed publicly” which is supposed to promote designer innovation and stifle theft. But he wonders if messing up the delicate balance illustrated in the cerulean sweater scene from The Devil Wears Prada will in fact be productive for the industry as a whole.
  • Seems to Miss The Spirit of What’s Going On notes Gawker’s Bryan Moylan. “It’s not like people are thinking, ‘Hmm, I can either buy this $7,400 Marc Jacobs blazer or buy this identical one for $17.40 at Ye Olde Knockoff Shack.’ Marc Jacobs is not going to sell any more $7,400 blazers because the cheap alternatives have been put out of business. All that is going to happen is that poor people are going to look less fashionable than ever when they have to wait to buy this year’s runway looks…”

See also Fashion Design and Copyright and Project Copyright! Bill Giving IP Protection to Fashion Moves Forward.

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