Yesterday while reading the Sydney Morning Herald online, I came across and interesting article by Ezra Klein entitled “In fashion copyright, the knock-off wins”. The article made a interesting point of saying the consumers will be the losers if the bill that is before the US Senate right now which wants to extend copyright protections to the Fashion Industry.
In basic terms it means, that you love the Alexander Wang Rocco bag (I mean who doesn’t) but you don’t want to pay a lot of money for your handbags so you go to Sportsgirl and buy their copy for a fraction of the cost. Under the legislation put forth by United States Senator Charles Schumer’s (if the legislation is also adopted by the Australian Government) the Sportsgirl imitation would be illegal. For the first three years only Alexander Wang would be able to profit from his designs.
But as Ezra Klein points our “what if copying is a good thing?” Are the knockoffs stealing profit from the original Designer.
As regular readers of this blog know, I have a good mix in my wardrobe of designer originals and designer knockoffs. A lot of my purchase decisions are made on the fact that I live in Australia and sometimes the only item available to me is the copy but a lot of the times I just don’t want to pay $700 US ($790 AUD) for a pair of shoes. So the $150 copy, or tribute as I like to say, is more palatable.
I also believe that Fast fashion retailers and designers are not competing for same target market. And Designers themselves are seeing that more people are shopping at discount retailers and are designing diffusion lines for them to keep their names in the market place and to expand their profit making ability.
Ezra Klein also accurately points out that creating knockoffs speeds up innovation because designers need to create new fresh designs to keep ahead of the fast fashion retailers.
Copyright laws more often than not are used to protect profits at the expense of the consumer. I’d love to hear your comments on this issue.
To read Ezra Klein’s article click here