Barnett, Jonathan, Grolleau, Gilles and Harbi, Sana El. "The Fashion Lottery: Cooperative Innovation in Stochastic Markets." USC CLEO Research Paper No. C08-17; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 08-21. http://ssrn.com/abstract=1241005
This article puts an economic spin or an economist's viewpoint on the fashion copyright debate. In other words, it applies economic principles to the fashion industry to show why an incomplete property regime, not complete copyright protection, is the most sensible situation for the fashion industry. To build this argument, the author first explains the concept of "fashion risk," the main economic problem in fashion. Due to demand uncertainty in the fashion industry, it is difficult to forsee if a new design will be successful. So, designers need a system of collective insurance to balance the losses from seasonal product failure and the risk of firm bankruptcy. This collective insurance comes from designers allowing limited imitation which maximizes earnings in the long run. Basically, how this economic idea works is that the designer that produces the "winning" design for that season earns a larger prize, keeping the incentive for innovation alive. However, the incomplete property regime also gives smaller profits to the "losing" designers as a kind of insurance against the "fashion risk." This method is termed the "winner take most" approach. The article then transitions into three different types of imitation: mark perfection, design perfection, and quality perfection. These are then related to three different methods of imitation: horizontal imitation, legitimate vertical imitation (knockoffs), and illegitimate vertical imitation (counterfeits). Basically, horizontal imitation is copying among high end designers while vertical imitation is copying of elite designs by lower end fashion designers in a trickle down effect. As stated previously, the fundamental economic problem for designers is demand uncertainty and the associated risk of bankruptcy. By allowing horizontal imitation and legitimate vertical imitation, this risk is greatly reduced. An obvious way to success for the majority of the market is to wait until the winning design is determined for the season by the consumers and then release imitation products as this eliminates risk and increases success. However, this would kill innovation. So, the best solution is incomplete protection-positive yet constrained imitation. The economics equations show that to maximize final wealth and minimize the variance of final wealth incomplete, not complete, property regimes are required. This can be explained by the idea that at one extreme the winner does not make enough and so incentive is low. At the other extreme, insurance is too low and risk is too high. Both of these cases lead to underinnovation. In short, some imitation supports design innovation while too much or too little undermines it. Therefore, only the very few elite firms can afford the complete copyright protection suggested by bills such as the Design Piracy Prohibition Act.
This article is a very unique way to approach this fashion copyright war. It is an invaluable asset to my argument against enacting fashion design protection laws. This article basically utilizes economical principles to build mathematical equations proving that incomplete copyright protection or rejection of recently proposed copyright laws is more beneficial to society than enacting complete protection for fashion designs. The organization of this paper with alternating pieces of mathematical equations and textual analysis creates an extremely convincing and almost indisputable argument due to the logical thought process this method of presentation creates. This article greatly enhances my argument in that it provides an alternative viewpoint, particularly an economist's angle, which still points towards the same conclusion: fashion copyright laws should not be enacted.
In this article, William Landes looks at the “enduring legal question” that asks to what extent tools, services and venues that individuals use to infringe copyright should be held liable for the resulting infringement. In other words, Landes asks “how far should copyright liability extend beyond any direct lawbreakers?” Copyright law uses a variety of common law doctrines and statutory provisions in order to address issues of secondary and tertiary liability. In this article, Landes looks at these laws of copyright and evaluates them from an economic perspective. Landes states that unlike the Patent Act, the Copyright Act of 1976 “does not explicitly recognize the possibility of indirect liability.” He writes that courts have held third parties liable for copyright infringement by turning to the long-standing common law doctrines of contributory infringement and vicarious liability. Landes goes into a great deal of detail in explaining what these two terms actually mean and explaining their role in the Sony decision.
Landes claims that in the Sony decision the Courts failed to consider the balance between the benefits associated with legitimate use and the harms associated with illegitimate use. Landes writes that the ruling “implies that VCR manufacturers can facilitate any copyright violation they wish so long as they can prove that VCRs also facilitate some non-trivial amount of legitimate behavior.” However, Landes concedes that “mere dissection of the legal analysis misses the heart of the Sony decision” and goes on to write that “the driving concern in Sony was a fear that indirect liability would have given copyright holders control over what was then a new and still-developing technology.” Overall, the Court wrote that Copyright law must “strike a balance between a copyright holder’s legitimate demand for effective . . . protection . . . and the rights of others freely to engage in substantially unrelated areas of commerce.” This same idea can be analogized to a lawsuit that attempts to hold Internet service providers liable for online copyright infringement. Landes writes that “it is easy to see why courts would be reluctant to enforce such liability.”
From an economic standpoint, Landes explains that although Copyright law is important “at some point copyright incentives must take a backseat to other societal interests, including an interest in promoting the development of new technologies and an interest in experimenting with new business opportunities and market structures.” Overall Landes concludes that “the main argument in favor of liability is that, although [secondary] parties are only indirectly responsible, they are typically in a good position to either prevent copyright infringement or pay for the harm it causes.” However, “indirect liability has a significant drawback […] in that legal liability — even if carefully tailored — inevitably interferes with the legitimate use of implicated tools, services, and venues. Sometimes raising the prices of services, or even just setting the prices of in the first place, dissuades legitimate users from engaging in legal activity because they don’t want to pay the price. Landes points out that “one can only wonder, for example, how different the Internet would look today had it been clear from that outset that, say, Internet service providers were going to be held accountable for online copyright violations.” Landes concludes by saying that “ the only way to determine the proper scope for indirect liability is to weigh its costs and benefits against the costs and benefits associated with other plausible mechanisms for rewarding authors.”
Call#: HD9981.4 A522
Call#: HA37 .U52 1976
Call#: HC106.5 .A5393 1972