"Can Fashion Be Copyrighted?; Designers Want to Halt Knockoffs But Some Say They Spur Sales; 'Few People Can Spend $4,000'" The Wall Street journal [0099-9660] 248.60 (2006). B1.
This article examines whether knockoffs actually benefit the fashion industry altogether. Some argue that these knockoffs actually help keep the fashion industry going because once a design is copied, it forces the designers to move to a new design. For example, Joel Paris is head of website Anyknockoff.com, which offers imitations of designer handbags. Paris claims that his website benefits the high-end designers because it promotes their designs. Moreover, Allen Shwartz, founder of the label A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, explains that he makes knockoffs for those who cannot afford the real design. However, other designers disagree. One designer, Catherine Malandrino, claims, "If you're creative, you can design original designs that are affordable. You don't have to knock off what other people are creating." This article states that at present, only registered logos, brand names, and unique designs are protected, such as the Burberry design. But other designers are still allowed to copy cuts or shapes of different designs.
"Can Fashion be Copyrighted?" will help my paper because it has many direct quotations from different designers which can substantiate my thesis. It addresses the pros and cons of knockoffs in the fashion industry. This, in turn, will help me decide whether a fashion copyright is necessary or not.
Rangnath, Rashmi. "Design Protection for Fashion Design and Autoparts: A Bad Idea Times Two." Public Knowledge Blog. http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1399. February 16, 2008.
This blog considers the design protection for fashion designs and autoparts in terms of markets and niches. In terms of fashion design, the author argues that knockoffs do not damage the market for original designs much at all. Obviously there is some effect on the original designer, but the author argues that this effect is negligible due to the different markets that original designs and knockoffs compete within. Customers who can afford to buy runway designs are going to buy these original designs regardless of how many imitation versions are circulating. This is because the people who are willing to pay so much for clothing want to be able to tell others they are wearing an original. For them, only the original can give them the status they desire. On the other hand, people who cannot afford these original designs do not care if their clothing gives them status. In actuality, these customers still would not purchase the original design if the knockoffs were not present in the industry. These consumers are fine with the lower quality imitation once the trend trickles down. For this reason, elite and original fashion designers have no need to lower their prices to compete with knockoffs and imitations. This is because these two versions are marketing and selling to two different groups of people. They are operating within two different markets. Finally, the blog ends with an attack on elite designers who claim pirates end up selling more imitation versions than the designers can even imagine to sell of their original. The author argues here that in the elite market, the designer can sell very few items at a incredibly high price while pirates may sell thousands of products, but at virtually nothing compared to the original's price. Therefore, the elite designers probably come out ahead in terms of profit. The author makes a correlating argument against autopart design protection, which does not apply to the topic of interest.
This blog was chosen as a source for my paper because it has a very unique approach in looking at fashion designs and their imitations. Rather than looking at the logistics of the fashion industry or as someone from within the fashion industry, this blog arrives at this issue from the viewpoint of a consumer. In other words, the blog looks at the various classes of consumers and their different markets in order to suggest that imitation is not really harming anyone to an extent where copyright laws need to be enacted. By looking at the fashion copyright debate from a consumer and market viewpoint, this blog provides incredible support for my thesis by showing that a lack of copyright laws in fashion actually helps the industry thrive in all consumer markets. With design protection, the market for low end customers may very well be knocked out since a majority of consumers do not shop around in both low and high end markets.