Should copyright law be extended to useful articles such as clothing and shoe designs
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Explain how this issue relates to and why is it significant to the legal and/or ethical environment of business
Facts suggest that copyright law should be extended to cover useful articles. Fashion designs have over time received little protection under U.S. intellectual property laws. Designs that are as a result of piracy have increasingly become common. There has been some lobbying for the congress to consider passing a bill that would protect the fashion industry from pirates. My findings indicate that many fashion designs are not viewed as artistic creations. This has made the industry to stay unprotected for so long since most protection rights cover artistic creations and not useful articles. Fortunately, most people now understand that an ethical environment for business should mean that every market share holder is given a level playfield for good competition. Some should not benefit from other’s ideas and innovations.
Why is the research of interest to you?
The issue of copyright has caught my attention due to my belief in the idea that one should be rewarded for their efforts. Fashion designers should be the one credited for the innovativeness and creativity they portray in their industry. There has been an ongoing debate on whether copyright laws should be extended to useful articles like clothes and shoe designs. This has divided the industry into two groups; one for those who support the idea and another for those who do not. The Congress has been pressured severally to pass the necessary amendments to effect the laws. The current law puts the clothing industry under a useful article because its useful nature cannot be dealt away with. Due to this the clothing design sector cannot be copyrightable. Useful articles are only copyrightable in part if they have elements of a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work that will identify it as being separated.
How did you go about the research?
This research was internet based. Most of the information I obtained was from the internet. First, I searched for information about the fashion industry, how the designers do their work and how they gain economically from their jobs. Then I looked for the websites with legal counsel as to how the existing laws view the fashion industry and what can be done to improve the welfare of the designers and the public in general.
Evaluate the websites used and which one was the most helpful
In www.levinlegalhelp.com, www.dglaw.com and www.harvard.com, I found out which sectors of creativity are being currently covered by the existing copyright laws. At www.learncenter.org and www.bc.edu I wasprovided with information on the fashion industry, how it has evolved over the years and how they survive with other competing industries. At http//www.copyright.gov I found the official statement of the United State Copyright Office. The article was under the protection for fashion design. Metrocorpcounsel.com provided me with most of the information convening this issue. It was very conclusive and gave both sides of the arguments a voice. It was very descriptive even defines the meaning of copyright law and what it currently covers under the U.S law.
List and explain three persuasive arguments on the PRO side of the argument and three on the CON side
Those proposing the extension of laws argue that lack of copyright laws has made confusion between original and pirated designs especially for designers who are not well known. Many have advocated for the laws arguing that pirated material will only make the public suffer. This is because pirated materials are of lower quality and wear out faster than the original ones. Pirates have continued to gain financially for a long time. This will force designers to lack the finance capability to produce new designs. They should also be offered the protection being offered to other creative entrepreneurs in other sectors like music or film. Things get worse because the digital world has made it faster for fraudsters. They take the photos from the fashion shows organized by designers. They then use automated machines to copy the designs (UCLA School of Law).
It is a noble idea for property laws to be enforced on the fashion industry due to the fact that design pirates hinder the emerging and innovative entrepreneurs. In the long run most of them will be discouraged from pursuing careers as fashion designers. The congress should create laws that protect designers against competitors who copy their designs and gain massively from them. The public suffers by purchasing poor imitations of the original designs while the pirates enjoy a lot of cash from selling the poor products. The original designers on the other hand fail to make any impressive income from their designs. If copyright laws continue to be denied, imitations which are of poor quality will flood the markets. The notion that such imitations should be encouraged so that social equality is promoted is no longer applicable given the harm these product have on the designers and consumer who pay too much for less quality (US Copyright Office).
Copyright law is the only tool that can be used to ensure that designers derive maximum financial gain from their designs. As I state earlier, failure of copyright law to protect creative works in the textile industries has severely punished designer finically. Most of their designs are quickly copied and supplied to the market in bulk thus denying them the ability to earn the maximum revenue possible. The copyright law is not such a bad idea since the type of designs to be protected will be defined. Also infringement in the textile design will also be properly defined. There will be no conflict. In the end, designers will be rewarded for their work. A lot more fashion designers will invest huge amounts of cash with no fear of being ripped off their pay by pirates (Los Angeles Times).
On the other hand, opponents of the law argue that granting copyright would mean only those who have already made it would continue to monopolize the market. If the law is passed, there is a guarantee that only designs that are purely original will receive copyright protection. Some designers who have borrowed an idea or two will be locked out (US Copyright Office).
Other people have argued that the pirated designs actually do boost the profile of a design house. Copying has brought the otherwise expensive designs to the masses at a cheaper price. Many people will get to wear designs that they would not have afforded. A design like Gucci for example is supposed to be very expensive if not pirated. The fact that pirates have managed to let it reach the masses will make Gucci coin a name and people will know that there is a design known as Gucci. So if one wants an original one they will go to the respective shops. Those who cannot afford the original pieces will have to do with the pirated ones.
According to Other people argue that protection or not, the fact that designers can always come up with new designs or create new garment each season will not change. They say that there cannot be an effect on the purchasing power of consumers if garments are made by quality designers at low prices that the consumers can buy. The fact that fashion designers are not being protected has benefitted the public sector and the clothing industry at large. Designers only lose a very small amount of their profit to the manufacturers who copy their designs. Those opposing the copyright laws say the fact that the pirate can copy a design and its name serves as a means of advertising for the designer. This will in the end boost the designer’s market share. This is evident because over the recent years, many designers have recorded tremendous profits and in the long run the fashion industry has blossomed.
Those who oppose this move to create copyrights argue that copying accelerates creativity and innovativeness. They say that the fashion industry gets its share of the profit setting new trends. This is due to copying being free. In other words, the industry would face hard times in coming up with trends if the copyright is extended to the sector. Copyright would mean that identical copies will be prohibited; anything similar or having been influenced by a prior design. In addition, the laws would create many lawsuits which will be costly while trying to find out whether a design is approved for a copyright protection (US. Government Printing Office)
Explain your position on the issue referring to the PRO and CON arguments above
In my view the idea of copyright being extended to useful articles such as clothes and shoe designs is a good idea. By setting up copyright laws, creative expressions of different fashion designers will have been protected. There is no other possible way of protecting property interest and the value of a garment design other than this. It would be the only solution to curbing the situations of designs being stolen. It is not a bad idea at all; copyright in its own way seeks to legalize the artistic innovations of designers. Every day designers come up with new designs, so it is the only way to appreciate their efforts other than leaving them at the havoc of pirates who reap where they did not saw. Copyright being denied to fashions has only served to protect the welfare of the public but has not put into concern the need for designers to have economic incentives (Urbach & Soussa).
Business managers will all agree that profits of designers come as a result of public demand and their uniqueness in the industry. The lack of laws makes it easier for designer’s creative work to be pirated. This affects their market share which will only translate to losses. As a result, designer goods have to be costly to cover these expenses. Hence very few consumers will be able to purchase them. Due to lack of economic incentives of copyright protection, the fashion industry has been forced to find alternative methods in order to increase their economic benefits. They have come up with lower cost lines which are made up of cheaper fabrics and lower quality (The Wall Street Journal). These are of course measures taken to compete with pirates. The loss however lies with the consumers since they will not access garments of high quality. On the other hand if copyright are extended to clothes, there will be minimal effect on the designers themselves. This is because there is a certain level that one can be inspired by another work. Infringement only occurs when an exact copy have been made. Manufacturers can pay the customary license and produce their own version of a garment.
As a business manager I propose that copyright protection laws should be passed. Designers have their economic needs too. They should be rewarded for their ideas in the fashion industry. They are the ones who clothe the general public. Without them there would not have been fashion shows or programs like project runaway. There are a number of people who are employed by them. The continued denial of protection will mean that pirate designers will continue to get economic incentives. These pirates do not bring new ideas on the table. Granting the copyright protection will be in favor of awarding a designer a right to his creation. As a matter of fact, the copyright laws will only punish the pirate. The designers and the public will remain to benefit.