Magazine article Reason

Fashion Police: Copyrighting Couture

Magazine article Reason

Fashion Police: Copyrighting Couture

Article excerpt

IF YOU WATCH the fashion pages, you already know that last year's must-have item was designer Roland Mouret's "Galaxy" dress, the curve-accentuating retro number in which Scarlett Johansson strode down the red carpet at the 2005 Oscars. Thanks to a thriving knock-off industry, today you can stroll into the U.K.'s TopShop or browse eBay for bargain copies so close that even Edith Head would have trouble telling the difference.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is hoping a new proposal to extend copyright protection to clothing designs will compel the most blatant borrowers to, well, knock it off.

Traditionally, fashion has been exempt from American copyright laws, on the grounds that clothing is primarily a functional rather than creative good. The Design Piracy Prohibition Act, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) would change that, creating a limited three-year term of protection for original clothing designs. Instead of working under the traditional copyright framework, where terms are far longer, the bill would amend a statute granting similar short-term protection to boat hull designs. …

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