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Fashion is a business in which copying plays a major role in driving new styles and trends. Marc Jacobs putting his own twist on a classic Chanel design; fashion on the streets inspiring fashion on the runway; low-end retailers democratizing high-end trends by selling more cheaply made versions of designer apparel—these are all integral parts of the fashion ecology. It is thanks to copying that trends have such a frantic life cycle.
They start by allowing all designers and consumers to capitalize on what’s hot, without breaking the bank. Just as quickly, trends fade away because they become ubiquitous, because they have been copied too many times; this, in turn, stimulates new innovation and design and the process starts all over. This is the “piracy paradox” that law professors Chris Sprigman and Kal Raustiala talk about in their paper by the same name, addressing the possibility that copying does not deter innovation but may actually promote it.
Public Knowledge’s Position
Some people think that because some copyright protection is good for creativity, more of it must be better. Experience in the fashion industry has proved this proposition wrong. Public Knowledge continues to be against any legislation or policy that would extend heavy copyright restrictions—effectively harming the creative process, the consumer, and the industry itself.
Nevertheless, some well-intentioned yet misguided designers and policy-makers continually advocate for legislation that would extend copyright protections to fashion designs, creating litigation, uncertainty, and economic harm.
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