There is legislation pending before Congress, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA), or H.R. 2196, that would allow designers to obtain copyright protection for their fashion designs for three years.
Steven Kolb, Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA), one of the supporters of the bill claims that it is needed because:
[p]irates steal American fashion designs, make low quality copies in Asian factories with cheap labor and import them back to into the U.S. to compete with the original designs.
Others, such as Jason Wu and Narciso Rodriguez rally against the injustice of lower priced companies profiting from the sales of virtual identify copies to gowns worn by celebrities or those in the public eye.
My question is this: isn’t inspiration, homage or “knocking-off” the force that creates a trend, thus causing customers across the country to desire and purchase the design?
Remember Meryl Strep in the Devil Wears Prada?
The ironic part of this new law is that copyright registration would not be allowed it if the design “merely reflects a trend.” According to the bill, a trend is:
a newly popular concept, idea, or principle expressed in, or as part of, a wide variety of designs of articles of apparel that create an immediate amplified demand for articles of apparel embodying that concept, idea, or principle.
The trend “safe-harbor” prevents protection for any “hot” or fast-checking item. Now that is the true paradox of fashion.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Mark Wilson