Fashion Copyrights

by on September 18, 2007 · 5 comments

Julian has a great write-up of the push to extend copyright protection to the fashion industry:

Even when the ubiquity of a style harms the sales of particular garments by widely-copied designers, however, it need not lower sales for high-end fashion as a whole. Instead, it may cause lateral displacement, as the fashion elite seek out less common looks. That could yield what legal scholars Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman have dubbed “The Piracy Paradox”: Copying that harms individual designers may be a boon to the industry as a whole, as it popularizes trends and then burns them out, speeding up the fashion cycle and spurring demand for new styles. “When a successful restaurant opens up on a street that’s never had a restaurant before, there’s a way in which the second business is parasitic on the first,” says Raustiala. “But in the United States, we call that capitalism and competition.”

As the copyright office’s own analysis noted, there’s no data showing that knockoffs have done any net harm to high fashion, and the explosive growth of fast fashion has coexisted with a massive luxury boom. Betsy Fisher, who owns an eponymous clothing boutique in Washington D.C., suggests this may be because knockoffs create “fashion groupies,” serving as a kind of gateway drug to couture for the teens who are flocking to fast fashion.

And be sure to tune in for this week’s podcast, which will feature an in-depth discussion with Julian and Prof. Sprigman about this issue, as well as Sprigman’s recent victory in the Golan decision.

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