Apparel emailed subscribers yesterday with a link to a guest editorial from Ilse Metchek of the CFA. The editorial is a reprinted letter that was sent to Howard Berman, the chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee for the Internet and Intellectual Property Committee which is currently considering the so described “fashion intellectual property” bill (H.R. 2033). The letter says in part:
The proposed framework defining “fashion piracy” has enormous legal ramifications, does not protect creativity, and is a lawyer’s windfall…would have a potentially devastating impact upon the apparel industry…Fashion is an industry that thrives on trends, and trends, by their nature, involve the sharing and tweaking of new ideas. In fashion there is truly nothing new under the sun, and designers are constantly looking to the past and the present for inspiration in their work.
We foresee extensive litigation and a bonanza for lawyers, but little benefit for designers and apparel makers. This proposed legislation will force the manufacturers to re-examine their relationships with their suppliers and their retailers…Certainly, new loans to the manufacturers, based on significant exposure to the folly of a variety of lawsuits will be problematic, making many contemporary designers uninsurable!..Lending institutions cannot factor merchandise that might be a part of forthcoming lawsuits, just by virtue of recently acquired copyright. So much of fashion is based on historical research. What is “research” to one designer becomes “original artwork” to the plaintiff. Ridiculous!
For another perspective in the debate, see Susan Scafidi’s entry at Counterfeit Chic. Ms. Scafidi is an attorney and law professor specializing in intellectual property law. Her entry includes a pdf of the bill in its entirety. Previously on F-I are two mentions of the fashion piracy paradox (part one, two) in the context of a recent study which analyzed the potential effects of protecting fashion intellectual property. The summary may surprise you, hence “paradox” in the titles. I imagine most of you already have an opinion regardless of the study’s conclusions that (unfortunately) few will read. So, what’s your opinion? Take the poll.
Vizu polls have closed down. Below is a screen capture of the poll results.