From eighty six to ninety six the game went from sugar to shit


What is protected in the fashion world via the law and legislation, and what is not? Blakely: The main protection fashion designers have is over their trademark: their logo, their name. Source is protected; that’s why you hear about raids on pirates, who have made copies of Louis Vuitton bags, Canal St. in New York (NYC), Santee Alley in Los Angeles (LA). Have control of their name; have copyright protection of all the two-dimensional designs that go into the production of a garment. Textile design with a certain pattern–automatically qualify for copyright protection of that design. What they don’t own are any of the three-dimensional designs they end up creating. The stuff you see prancing out on a runway are actually up for grabs. Anybody can copy any aspects of any of those designs and get into no trouble with the law. Those designs are not particularly utilitarian–a word that comes up a lot in this industry–utilitarian stuff tends not to be protected legally. Something has to be considered a work of art in order to be considered for copyright protection. The courts decided long ago that they did not want any fashion designers owning such utilitarian designs as shirts, blouses, pants, belts, lapels. Don’t want somebody owning a monopoly–basically what a copyright gives you. (…)

Standard view would be: If I think my design is going to be copied, and copied quickly–which is what has happened to some extent because the copying ability better and the speed faster–then you’d think people would have less incentive to create new and better designs. That does not seem to be the case in the fashion industry. Why? Several reasons. One, from the beginning, copyright has both given artists an advantage and also taken something away. What it takes away from creators is access to other creative designs. Copyright holders may own what they have, but they cannot sample freely from others around them. Huge problem in the film and music industry. The fashion industry doesn’t suffer from this problem because every design that has ever been made is within a type of public domain. It is the raw material they can sample from to make their new work. Rich archive. The history of fashion, every hem length, every curved seam, every style is available to sample from. Not just stealing–sort of a curatorial responsibility. They are curating. Different gestures, different design elements from the past. Inevitably creating something new.

{ Johanna Blakley on Fashion and Intellectual Property | EconTalk | Continue reading }

photo { Bianca Jagger by Andy Warhol }