Friday, August 10, 2007

Fashion News: Design Piracy Prohibition Act Introduced

We've all seen them. Most of us have blogged on them. The knockoffs. And not just the "inspired by", but the blatant copies. I could rattle ten websites selling them right off the top of my head.

Well, the design pirates will probably not have an easy time of it much longer. Last week (Aug 2) in Washington, a group of both Republican and Democratic senators (including Hillary Clinton) introduced a bill named the Design Piracy Prohibition Act. The bill would protect the rights of designers for three years from piracy. While designers are already protected against people selling fakes claiming to be originals, now they would also be protected against those "inspired by" products that got too familiar with a designer's creative ideas.

Yesterday, Aug 9, several influential designers gathered at the press conference hosted by Sen. Charles Schumer at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to show their support of the proposed bill, including Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Richard Lambertson of Lambertson Truex and Dana Foley of Foley and Corrina among other American designers.

Knockoffs and imitations hit designers not only by the immediate financial implications, but also in branding—creating a name and look that is distinctively theirs. As Schumer stated at the press conference:

"Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's bad for our fashion industry." Fashion design, Schumer said, is "every bit as much intellectual property as writing a good book or making a good movie."

He is, of course, right. I myself am guilty of buying clothes and purses that remind me of designer items, though I've never bought an out-and-out fake. Now I feel ashamed and will watch out for it in the future. Let's hope the bill passes.

To read more on the press conference, read this article on MSNBC.


Kaye said...

Yeh, I read about this. I wonder how they will judge when the inspired bys become a bit too similar to the originals though... doesn't that leave quite a bit of subjectiveness in the equation?

But anyway, Forever 21 is going to need to find a new plan of attack. I hope the bill passes too. Although it might not be so good for us (the consumer) because of the smaller variety, it will hopefully give chain stores a kick in the ass!

G.G. said...

Right, it's gonna have to be interpreted on a case by case basis. And right you are, it's us the consumers who will take a hit for it... especially those of us who love to bargain hunt. Our options will get quite a bit more limited. On the other hand, it may afford more opportunity for new designers, since new original voices will be needed when chain stores can't just lift ideas off the runways. That example of Dana Foley and the dress swipe was horrible, and made me realize just how wrong knocking something off too closely can be. Or take the Zac Posen / A.B.S case. That surprised me greatly! On the other hand, what if two people have the same inspiration (say that Harlow dress a few posts back) -- if they're both in essence knocking off Edith Head or Adrian of Hollywood from the 1930s, which of them can say they had the original idea -- neither!