Late last week Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced S. 1957 a bill to extend copyright protections to the fashion industry. We’ve blogged about this issue numerous times and Public Knowledge advisory board member Chris Sprigman has written a very informative paper on the topic.
There is very little to recommend the bill beyond good intentions. Senator Schumer and Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Bill Delahunt (D-MA, who have introduced a similar bill, H.R. 2033 in the House, aim to reduce destructive counterfeiting. But protections against Canal Street bag-hawkers already exist under trademark protection. By extending copyright protections to useful articles, these bills would only slow the process of creative copying that is not only tolerated by the fashion industry, but that actually sustains it. Trying to copyright the cut of a suit or the shape of a dress is as difficult and counter-productive as copyrighting boat hulls.
For the visual learners out there, we’ve put together this short video (also see below) explaining the bill and its potential effects. Feel free to post it on your own blog – we hope to get the word out on this bill to as many people who care about the future of fashion as possible.