Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committe on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives. Design Law: Are Special Provisions Needed to Protect Unique Industries-Testimony of Fashion Designer Narciso Rodriguez. 14 February 2008.
This source is a testimony by Narciso Rodriguez, a fashion designer and board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. This testimony is in favor of HR 2033, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. He first presents some astounding figures such as the annual loss of at least $12 billion in the fashion industry due to piracy. He then takes the audience or reader through an almost emotional trip by explaining all the training, hard work, and money that goes into becoming a designer. With all the time and money invested within the fashion industry, pirates are just making a risky business riskier. He then constructs an argument for fashion copyright using a sad, personal anecdote. In other words, he plays on emotions and moral rights to make his point. He basically recounts a story about an original design he made that was copied and sold by pirates millions of times. Without protection for fashion design, US companies arise with piracy as their business model. These companies can afford to make large quantities at low prices, causing more sales for the pirating companies than for the original designer. Rodriguez then suggests the positive results of enacting copyright. Pirate companies would be forced to hire real designers, increasing the job market for designers and creating a great choice of original designs for consumers. He admits that in the past clothing was a functional object and therefore did not require protection. However, he believes that fashion has now become an art that is no longer just utilitarian. He then addresses the other side's concerns by claiming that only truly unique designs will be copyrighted, not all designs. He also states that the three year protection period will simply allow designers to reach the market before the pirates. After these three years and with a large public domain still in existence, previous designs can still be used for inspiration. He also addresses the concern that this will increase apparel prices by claiming that accessibly priced clothing will still exist, but the creation of these derivative lines will be through the original designer. Through explanation like these, Rodriguez attempts to passify the concerns on the scope of the legislation of copyright opponents.
This testimony by Narciso Rodriguez is very beneficial since it is a primary source coming from an elite fashion designer. It provides the viewpoint of someone within the fashion industry. Rodriguez begins his argument with a very emotional approach regarding his personal experiences and losses due to piracy. After getting the audience's sympathy, he provides some positive benefits of enacting copyright. He concludes his argument by addressing the concerns of the skeptics of fashion copyright. Rodriguez is a biased source since he obviously can benefit if the copyright laws are enacted. However, his testimony provides some real insight into the minds of fashion designers and the actual issues they face due to piracy. Therefore, this article provides a better sense of the real problems plauging the industry and if these laws can actually address these issues. So, although this testimony may not support my thesis, it provides better issues to address and counterargue than secondary sources would.
Sprigman, Christopher. "Fashion Copyright, 'Corruption,' and the Unheard Consumer." Public Knowledge Blog. http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1404. February 20, 2008.
This blog provides some very useful insight into how the fashion industry works and the corruption plauging the industry. The fashion industry's success can be attributed to the cyclical nature of consumption. Basically, copying helps to set trends, trends lead to consumption, more copying destroys that same trend due to overexposure, and the industry moves on to new trends. Therefore, copying does not harm the process; it is the process that creates profits in fashion. Why then would anyone want to destroy the process that generates money? Sprigman answers this question by accusing the Council for Fashion Designers of America of corruption and selfishness. The CFDA is the group that is promoting copyright laws for fashion design. However, the CFDA only represents a small fraction of the industry, the elite designers. The needs of the thousands of non-elite designers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and consumers are completely overlooked by the CFDA. These elite designers, who sell clothes for ridiculous prices, are the only ones who can afford to compete and prosper in a revised industry where every design is subject to infrigement suits. This is because these elite groups are the only ones who can afford lawyers. Just to increase profit a little for the small group of elite designers, the CFDA is going to raise prices and reduce consumer choices in an industry that has been incredibly successful for a very long time. These laws hurt consumers. However, consumer needs are ignored because of corrupt politics. These elite corporations can afford to pay Congressmen to sponsor the passing of bills they support. Therefore, intellectual property laws are badly warped due to elite desires and political corruption.
Although blogs are not necessarily the most reliable sources, the author of this blog is Chris Sprigman, the author of the Piracy Paradox. This blog is so interesting because it provides a completely different take on the fashion copyright war: a political angle. Rather than having an equal amount of people of either side of the debate, Sprigman argues that only a very few elite designers actually support these laws. The other supporters, such as those in Congress, are just a result of corruption. The argument here is the decision made regarding this issue should benefit the majority or the "public good." Since the CFDA is a small fraction of the fashion industry, passing these laws would harm the majority simply because this elite group is able to buy support. Therefore, this article is structured around attacking the CFDA and Congress and their reasons for supporting design protection. This will be very beneficial to my paper and argument since I can use these claims to counterargue declarations that fashion copyright will benefit the industry, consumers, and the fashion cycle.