Copyright in Fashion – the US may soon have it

In the article "In fashion copyright, the knock-off wins"

Washington Post writer Ezra Klein talks about a bill currently before the US Senate which proposes to protect copyright in fashion in the US for a period of three years.

The example used is Chelsea Clinton's Vera Wang wedding dress, but really it could be any red carpet designer frock you chose to name.

The point of the article is really to question why we have copyright protection in the first place.

The purpose of copyright is to protect innovation. The original idea was that if people were not able to make some money from their original creations, sufficient to permit the creator to invest time and energy into creating something, then innovation would cease because everyone would be too busy simply earning a living.

The length of copyright protection is supposed to protect the investment made in the original creation. 

And creative works enhance our lives.

The argument that Ezra Klein puts forward is that at some point copyright goes beyond protecting innovation and tips into protecting profits, and at that point it does no good for the consumer.

Personally I'd argue with that. Businesses that are not profitable don't last. Business is the backbone of our economy. Without profitable businesses there are no jobs to employ people and no products to purchase that make our lives easier or more fun.

Fashion is already a profitable industry for a very large variety of businesses…  

So, with fashion being an already profitable industry for a very large variety of businesses, large chains, cheap outlets, boutique fashion and haute couture, why is the US now considering applying copyright protection to fashion design?

And should it?

How is copyright in fashion going to protect anyone other than the original designer?

Many consumers are delighted to have the chance to buy a cheaper version of a designers creation. If copyright stops those designs from being copied for three years, then cheaper clothing, the clothing warn by most people, either won't reflect the current designer fashion for three years, or there will be a lag in the industry for three years until the popular cycle meets the end of the first year of copyright protection.

That of course depends upon whether high end designers are prepared to take the copy houses to court to protect their designs. Which is a win for the lawyers, not the consumers. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Fashion shopping

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