Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Why on earth would anyone want to change that?"

Copyright and fashion are back in the news again. Sen. Schumer has introduced a bill that would extend copyright laws to the fashion industry for the first time. Lawprofs Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman are against it:

"American law does not prohibit copying fashion designs. Paradoxically, the payoff from free copying has been enormous. Copying helps set trends (you can’t know it’s a trend until it’s been copied) and then helps destroy them – once a design has been widely copied, the fashion-forward hop on to the next new thing. This is the familiar fashion cycle. What’s less obvious is that the absence of copyright makes the process possible. The fashion cycle turns faster, and the industry gets richer – and creates new designs more frequently."

Writing in Newsweek, Ezra Klein takes a similar line:

"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?"

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento does not take a similar line.

Related post here.