Raustiala, Kal and Sprigman, Chris "The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design." Virginia Law Review, Vol. 92, p. 1687, 2006; UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 06-04. http://ssrn.com/abstract=878401
This detailed article is an in depth view of both sides of the fashion copyright debate. Rather than simply looking at and supporting only one viewpoint on this controversial issue, the authors address both angles to the fashion copyright controversy. They then proceed to prove why support of low IP protection is the better choice despite arguments made in support of fashion copyright laws. This article describes the fashion industry as unique since it continually produces original content while its main creative element remains outside of copyright protection. This appears to condradict the theory of IP rights which claims that copying, which is rampant in the fashion industry, smothers the incentive for innovation. The article then presents the reader with the two overarching arguments. The argument for increased copyright protection within the fashion industry is more of a moral rights claim. This side claims the lack of current fashion design protection is an injustice to the immense creativity put into the creation of apparel. The other side looks at the unique nature of the fashion industry. They claim copying drives the cycle that makes fashion such a thriving, innovative industry. The article then proceeds to delve into past attempts at copyright protection for fashion. One failed attempt was made by the Fashion Originators' Guild of America: they made a deal between designers and retailers to refuse the sale of any copied apparel and boycotted any member of the guild who violated this rule. Since clothing and apparel are considered utilitarian objects, copyright should not apply to fashion design. Patents and trade dress also are not effective methods of protecting copyright. Although trademark is used by designers, it can only be used to protect names and logos, not entire designs. Therefore, bills like HR 5055 are suggested by groups like the CFDA. One of the main concepts of this paper is how induced obsolescene and the positional nature of apparel drive the fashion cycle, which would be incredibly slow and ineffective without copying. In addition, Raustiala and Sprigman explain how free appropriation helps to anchor trends in the industry. So, they conclude that due to induced obsolescene and anchoring of trends, the fashion industry has remained stable despite rampant copying. Finally, the authors address the copyright system in the European Union and how even with protection laws, very few design infringment cases come to court. Additionally, due to the litigious culture of the United States, copyright protection in the US would simply flood the courts with unnecessary cases and reduce innovation due to fear of suit.
This article is of extreme importance to any research regarding the issue of fashion copyright. The article is unique among other scholarly works on this issue in that rather than just delving into one side of the debate, the authors address the arguments on both sides of this fashion copyright war. This is an extremely useful method and structure since it provides the reader with insight into both arguments. However, the article is then strengthened by analyses of both arguments and subsequent counterarguments against those supporting fashion copyright. Since my topic revolves around whether fashion copyright should be enacted or not, having both argments laid out within one coherent paper is extremely beneficial. The paper also looks at previous attempts at fashion copyright. This is important in building the history and basis of design protection in my paper and why these laws should not be enacted in the present day. This article is very important in building the foundation of my argument.