The High Price Behind High Fashion

By: Laura Schumacher

Abstract: Fashion is art. Fashion is a medium for designers to create new forms of expression and innovate ways to reflect on culture and society. Fashion is a reflection of culture, and like culture, it changes with time. It serves a utilitarian function and is part of our daily lives. Fashion is on the catwalk during a fashion show by one of the world’s leading designers. Fashion is one’s creative outlet to mix and match signature pieces to create a new way of personal expression. This paper will explore the nature of the fashion industry and whether we, as a society, should grant design protection under copyright law. Congress is currently considering the Design Piracy Protection Act, which would extend a form of copyright protection to fashion designs. The industry is divided on whether the legislation will impede creativity and prevent the industry from changing and evolving over time. This decision really comes down to one question; will the benefit of extending protection outweigh the negative effects? This paper will attempt to answer this question through public policy, legislative history, and industry opinion.

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