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The Fashion Industry As a Model For IP Reform 398

Posted by kdawson
from the rip-mix-burn dept.
Scrameustache writes "In this 15-minute TED talk, Johanna Blakley addresses a subject alien to most here — fashion — but in a way sure to grab our attention. The lesson is about how the fashion industry's lack of copyright protection can teach other industries about what copyright means to innovation. And yes, she mentions open source software. There is one killer slide at 12:20 comparing the gross sales of low-IP-protection industries with those of films and books and music. If you want to know more, or if you prefer text, the Ready To Share project website should give you all the data you crave on the subject."

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The Fashion Industry As a Model For IP Reform

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  • by PatrickThomson (712694) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:17AM (#32345778)

    I had a kneejerk thing to say here about software piracy, but then I realised that in my rush to be relevant, I hadn't RTFA and it was irrelevant.

    Yes, I know, this is slashdot, I should GTFO with an attitude like this!

    • I think in this case you didn't VTFA (View TFA) not RTFA. And yes, it is probably a flawed analogy, but only because it has no cars in it.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        Obviously, you didn't VTFA, as there was car references, as to the fact that you can't copyright the exterior design of them. The analogy regarding OSS having no copyright protection was a bit flawed, but considering the idea behind the GPL is to be copyleft, it was an understandable misinterpretation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hognoxious (631665)

          as to the fact that you can't copyright the exterior design of them.

          You don't need to, it's covered by design patents.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            And that's just another reason why clothing is not directly comparable to any other industry. It's not that you can't make a comparison between clothing and software, any more than you can't compare apples and oranges — both are clearly fruit. But it's going to be difficult to get a patent in clothing that is not a gimmick nobody would wear, while the same is not true in software. Or, for that matter, in automotive design, which compared to clothing, is a field in its infancy. We've been wearing cloth

    • by denzacar (181829) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:23AM (#32346496) Journal

      There is one killer slide at 12:20 [youtube.com] comparing the gross sales of low-IP-protection industries with those of films and books and music.

      Seriously?
      Comparing food, cars and clothing to films, books and music?

      I don't know about you... but I kinda have this habit of eating every day, sometimes even more than once.
      I also have this crazy need to change my clothes from time to time. Sometimes I even throw it away as I find it "unwearable", as it gets worn out OR my body changes from all that food I eat every day.

      Compared to that, I am yet to throw away any of my DVDs, CDs, books etc. because it is "worn out" or "out of trend" or "I don't want to watch/listen to/read that at the moment".

      And putting cars up there... Why not diamonds too? Or "space vacations"?
      Come on... You can't compare a price of a car to the price of a lunch, or a pair of pants, or a CD.
      Also, note the HUGE difference in the gross sales of the first two industries (food - which everyone buys all the time; cars - which cost much more per single item than the products of any other industry) and the rest of the "IP-freely" industries (fashion - items last a lot longer than food; furniture - lasts virtually forever).
      Furniture is right there at the low end with the movies. Despite the fact that a decent bed (or even a cheap one) will set you back a lot more than a fun movie.

       

      Also, virtues of copying? [youtube.com]
      Ohh... Just TRY incorporating the second two into ANY industry not based on shoe shopping.

      "Induced obsolescence"? Really?
      How would you like to have to re-buy ALL your software, books, movies, CDs EVERY SEASON instead of every time a new digital media appers?

      Why would you have to buy it?
      Because of "Acceleration in creative innovation", which translates to:

      Fashionistas want to stay ahead of the curve.
      They don't want to be wearing what everybody else is wearing and so they want to move on to the next trend as soon as possible.
      EVERY SEASON these designers have to struggle to come up with the new fabulous idea that everybody's going to love.
      And this [..] is very good for the bottom line.

      In other words - snobbery supported by profit margin supported by snobbery.

      Sure... you might say that we already have that in constantly changing "modern" music, artsy-fartsy films or even Apple.
      But none of those "industries" can be pushed into fashion industry's "season based" product cycle.

      Why?
      Because fashion is the only "art" that can become OBSOLETE.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:37AM (#32346580) Homepage Journal

        Because fashion is the only "art" that can become OBSOLETE.

        Depends how much storage space you have. I reckon every third or fourth trend is actually a revival.

        Given the current economic and political situation I can see the late 70s/80s look coming back. Winter of discontent II here we come!

        • by krou (1027572) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:01AM (#32346724)

          fashion is the only "art" that can become OBSOLETE.

          How many musical artists have created and sold music over the last 100 years, how many of those artists are still remembered and/or listened to on a regular basis, and are still considered as popular and/or relevant as when they created their music? Discuss. For bonus points, compare and contrast the trends in the music industry during the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, and identify whether or not these trends bare any resemblance to fashion trends in that the music changes because, over time, music artists "want to stay ahead of the curve", and "don't want to be" playing "what everybody else is" playing.

          • by jimbolauski (882977) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:20AM (#32346876) Journal

            fashion is the only "art" that can become OBSOLETE.

            How many musical artists have created and sold music over the last 100 years, how many of those artists are still remembered and/or listened to on a regular basis, and are still considered as popular and/or relevant as when they created their music? Discuss. For bonus points, compare and contrast the trends in the music industry during the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, and identify whether or not these trends bare any resemblance to fashion trends in that the music changes because, over time, music artists "want to stay ahead of the curve", and "don't want to be" playing "what everybody else is" playing.

            All you had to say was disco

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by digitig (1056110)

        Ohh... Just TRY incorporating the second two into ANY industry not based on shoe shopping.

        "Induced obsolescence"? Really? How would you like to have to re-buy ALL your software, books, movies, CDs EVERY SEASON instead of every time a new digital media appers?

        Why would you have to buy it? Because of "Acceleration in creative innovation", which translates to:

        Fashionistas want to stay ahead of the curve. They don't want to be wearing what everybody else is wearing and so they want to move on to the next trend as soon as possible. EVERY SEASON these designers have to struggle to come up with the new fabulous idea that everybody's going to love. And this [..] is very good for the bottom line.

        In other words - snobbery supported by profit margin supported by snobbery.

        Sure... you might say that we already have that in constantly changing "modern" music, artsy-fartsy films or even Apple. But none of those "industries" can be pushed into fashion industry's "season based" product cycle.

        Why? Because fashion is the only "art" that can become OBSOLETE.

        Sure -- and that's why we never see new releases of software that simply add a pile of tick-box features that add nothing to productivity (and change the file formats, to make it harder for users of old versions to use your output), shortly followed by withdrawal of support for the old version.

        Microsoft, Apple and so on follow just that model. The only reasons they're not "season based" are that they're less affected by the weather and development cycles are longer.

    • Re:Flawed Analogy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:45AM (#32346616) Homepage Journal

      But it's not an analogy. It's a reductio ad absurdum. Certain economic hypotheses put forward by advocates of stronger and more restrictive intellectual property laws have been repeated so often that people treat them as fundamental principles, as scientific laws. If they are scientific laws, they should apply to every industry, otherwise the proponents of these "laws" are guilty of special pleading.

      Fashion is an interesting case because it's exempted from copyright laws, and the legal reasoning for that exemption is specious. Think about it: fashion is too utilitarian to be copyrighted, but *software* is not? I can design an evening gown for somebody to wear to the Oscars, and that's *utilitarian*, but if I write a spanning tree algorithm for a a network hub, that's *creative*?

      Fashion is creative expression par excellence; it has almost no value other than the emotional response it evokes in its viewers. We don't judge fashion designers by how comfortable their clothes are (!!!), how well they protect wearers from the elements. We judge them by how provocative their designs are. Therefore any argument that I, a software writer, have to be "incented" to be creative must apply even *more* to a fashion designer. Any argument that creativity in the software industry will collapse without rigorous IP protection is inconsistent with the existence of a fashion industry.

      Now let's get to a real analogy. I think without IP protection we'd still have a software industry, but it'd look very, very different. Copyright creates an artificial scarcity. That brings more developers into the market. Copyright protection in the fashion industry would probably result in many, many more fashion houses springing up. The end of copyright in software would mean that many developers would be out of a job, even though the social utility of the industry would be increased and its economic value not necessarily decreased.

      Copyright in software makes a programming career possible for many more mediocre developers. On the other hand it makes the best developers less productive by forcing them to waste their creativity reinventing the wheel.

      • Re:Flawed Analogy? (Score:4, Informative)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:57AM (#32347170) Homepage Journal
        Fashion is an interesting case because it's exempted from copyright laws

        Actually, it's not completely exempt because there have been numerous cases of copyright in the fashion industry. For example, Van Halen suing Nike [guardian.co.uk] over a criss-cross pattern on a line of sneakers Nike produced. Anthropologie has sued Forever 21 [apparelsearch.com] (see below for a separate case) over copyright infringement for nine garments. We also have Diane von Furstenberg suing Target [iptrademarkattorney.com] (see separate case below) for copyright infringement as well as other issues.

        There is the case of jewelry company Merit Diamond Corp that sued Samuels Jewelers and Rogers Jewelers because their design of certain pieces of their jewelry was copies of Merit's [nationalje...etwork.com]. A similar case involved Tacori vs Beverly Jewelry Company Ltd for copyright infringement of ring designs [nationalje...etwork.com].

        Most lawsuits in the fashion industry revolve around trademark and patent infringement such as the case against Paris Hilton [aceshowbiz.com], Coach vs. Target [duetsblog.com] and Trovata vs Forever 21 [mediabistro.com].

        However, to prove your point about the fashion industry and copyright, see this article from the NY Times [nytimes.com] from March which talks about this very subject.
      • Re:Flawed Analogy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anpheus (908711) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @08:09AM (#32347276)

        The reason software and other forms of IP are copyrighted but fashion is not is because of availability or, as you said, scarcity.

        When you buy a book, or music, or a piece of software, you are buying information. It often happens that you're buying information in a particular encoding on a particular medium, but you're buying a piece of information.

        Without copyright law, what incentive would Microsoft have to continue to spend billions annually on software development and R&D? The moment they ship a single copy of Windows to someone they have not directly contracted with, the cat is out of the bag, they can make their own copies. They take their Windows disc and make copies for all their friends, and some company in a Southeast Asian country starts mass-producing it, depriving Microsoft of billions in revenue. Oh, and don't think open source saves you. With no copyright, the GPL is unenforceable. The GPL is a license that gives recipients of a copyright work rights. Without copyright, you can treat everything in the world as BSD licensed.

        On the other hand, fashion is a literal thing, where knock-offs are typically identifiable as such and people often buy brands for their trademark logo. Like she says in TFS, customers who go to the fast fashion places or the seedy underbellies of major cities to buy handbags are not and never were Gucci's customers. Gucci may even end up selling the same design, sans trademark, to those people. They know they're going to copy it no matter what, and they know their customers are buying Gucci for the brand, the status, and of course, being on the bleeding edge of fashion.

        Copyright is absolutely necessary for ideas, but I agree with the courts in that fashion is not something that can be copied with perfect fidelity. The trademarks alone prohibit perfect copies. On the other hand, if you buy a book from a penniless author, it is trivial, albeit time consuming, to make a perfect copy of the book's content. And it becomes even easier with all digital works.

        • A very apt analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @08:56AM (#32347974) Homepage Journal

          Without copyright law, what incentive would Microsoft have to continue to spend billions annually on software development and R&D?

          This question was specifically addressed in the talk. To dig deeper, maybe Microsoft doesn't need to spend billions annually on software development and R&D. It's very likely that Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Apple, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Cisco, etc. are all spending billions doing more or less the same research. The first one who gets it basically invalidates the billions that all the others have spent, at least for 20 years. If Microsoft could just openly rip off, say, Apple, then maybe some of those billions they're spending on reinventing Apple's wheel could be spent improving Apple's wheel instead. Better yet, maybe Joe Kernelhacker could take the wheels that Microsoft, Oracle, Google, etc. have created, tweak it a bit, and come up with something that the rest could in turn incorporate, or that he could even sell and help share the wealth.

          Also, look at, for example, Adobe's new feature in Photoshop whereby you can remove stuff from pictures just by painting a boundary around it, and it fills in the background. Now, I'll agree that you shouldn't be able to just copy the code directly from Photoshop and use it in your own application wholesale. But as the laws are set up now, you can't even implement your own version of this feature, and that's absolutely horrible for innovation. Hell, just look what's going on with the H.264 battle. Not only are some people saying you can't use that codec--by far, the most popular and well-supported codec on the Internet--to make your own videos without paying up to MPEG LA, but some have issued veiled threats that the whole process is patented down so heavily that making any software that can stream video at all will get you sued into oblivion. And they're probably right.

          The point of that tangent is that without software patents and copyright laws being extremely relaxed, maybe Microsoft can take some of that money they spend on lawyers (a very significant amount, by the way) and divert it to R&D because they no longer have to worry about being sued and paying millions to some schmuck who, it turns out, has a patent on wiping their butts. (Not to mention the millions in royalties they're having to pay to the other schmuck who has the patent on using toilet paper.)

          Also, the fact that Adobe has the first product on the market that can do the out-of-sight out-of-mind trick is great advertising. Without software patents, will everyone replicate this feature in their products? Eventually, of course, yes. It's a cool feature. But it's obviously something that's not easy to replicate. It's not like Microsoft can just go to their development gurus and say, "Make this happen." If they incorporated it into Paint, it would probably take them months or even years to figure out a way to replicate the effect, during which time Adobe will be selling copies of Photoshop like gangbusters. This was what she was referring to with the slide on making it hard to replicate.

          Have you ever used a piece of software that was blazing fast at something? Unless it was open source, did you really know exactly how it was fast? Was it because they came up with some clever way to use less resources? Did they come up with some clever algorithm that churns the numbers faster than everyone else? Did they just work really hard to remove all the bloat from their code, or write it to use resources on your machine at a lower level? There are literally millions of ways to make something work better. I just don't think that IBM will be ripping stuff off left and right from Oracle because it's not like they're going to instantly just know what to rip off.

          They take their Windows disc and make copies for all their friends, and some company in a Southeast Asian country starts mass-producing it...

      • Re:Flawed Analogy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @08:21AM (#32347502) Homepage Journal

        That's a perfect illustration as to why our copyright laws are retarded. If you design an evening gown it isn't copyrightable, but if you take that same evening gown, put it on a mannequin and place it in an art gallery, it's sculpture and CAN be copyrighted.

        It's just insane.

  • by tao (10867) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:18AM (#32345782) Homepage
    A not too wild guess is that this will probably remedied in the wrong way; by adding more IP protection to the fashion industry, rather than following their example.
    • by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:23AM (#32345806)
      I've already submitted a patent for denim material that covers from several inches above the knees to the waist. A button will be used to hold the material together. I call this invention the "not-longs." I've checked and there is no prior art. I am waiting for my patent to be approved.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:47AM (#32346094)

      It's already got extremely strong IP protection, enforced strongly by the police. The Intellectual Property in their case though is called trademarks.

      If you are travelling from China into Paris with twenty Gucci-branded handbags, the police will slap you with a fine that's a lot bigger than the current "fines" for downloading software.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        Similar case in Italy.

        Of course the irony that since many luxury brands have shifted production to China, you could argue that even the genuine articles are knock-offs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jesus_666 (702802)
        The trademark only applies to the Gucci label, though. You're perfectly fine if you rip off the same designs for your "Cucchi" brand. Replace all the Gs with Cs and you're set.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Actually, TFP (The Insert-Appropriate-F-Word Presentation) touches on this. Some shoe designers tried to get increased legal protection. The retailers lobbied the motion to hell.

      Also, thre already are two markets with such protection for fashion designs. Japan decided that only completely novel designs applied (therefore a new kind of T-shirt wouldn't apply since the T-shirt concept isn't novel); the EU decided that just about anything applies, which apparently includes variations. Amusingly, most of the
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=KrsEAAAAEBAJ&dq=denim

    http://www.google.com/patents?lr=&q=fashion+clothing&spell=1&oi=spell

    http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=nX4CAAAAEBAJ&dq=clothing

    for just a sampler.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:31AM (#32345856) Homepage

    In fashion, women are required to constantly buy new clothes lest they be considered "frumpy". Last year's clothes are perfectly good, quality-wise, but a culture has been created by which anyone who wears them is subject to public ridicule. The point of all this is to keep the fashion industry's pockets full. What kind of developer, oops I mean designer, doesn't enjoy working on new designs? They want everyone buying the latest greatest design, even if it's not as good as last year's.

    Likewise in software, where upgrades are mandatory even though the current software works just fine. "But it's old tech!" the developer shouts at his utterly stupid users. "Why won't you upgrade? I really enjoyed working on this!" I recently asked a question on a support forum about Drupal. I didn't get my question answered, as the developers immediately discussed the fact I was using the "old tech" version (5) and the entire discussion became about when I was going to upgrade to the latest greatest version (7). Why should I? My software works just fine and customers are happy. Security upgrades are more like obscurity upgrades. "Because it's last year's fashion, daaahling"

    • Drupal (Score:4, Informative)

      by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:50AM (#32345908)

      I didn't get my question answered, as the developers immediately discussed the fact I was using the "old tech" version (5) and the entire discussion became about when I was going to upgrade to the latest greatest version (7).

      7 is still alpha. I wouldn't use that for production system. What's more, most modules are still unavailable for 7.

      Heck, some useful modules are even unavailable for 6, such as views_ticker. Or are there any other tickers that show titles of nodes of a view? There are plenty which show all nodes of a certain type, or featuring certain taxonomy keywords, or from a hand-picked list, but no tickers based on a view. For that you have to stay with 5.

      With drupal, you've got a good excuse for wearing last year's fashion: your favourite module or theme is still unavailable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The point of all this is to keep the fashion industry's pockets full.

      I don't think so, especially since this system is implemented exclusively by the consumers, not the fashion industry. There's nothing whatsoever preventing people from buying last year's fashion (or fashion from several years ago), and many people do. They choose to make themselves look different every season, and a high price, because that's important to them. The "quality" of the clothes (if you only consider practical utility) is but a

    • I have this really great reply to your post, but it'll have to wait as Fedora 13 just came out and I have to upgrade as the older Fedora versions are no longer supported.

    • In fashion, women are required to constantly buy new clothes lest they be considered "frumpy". Last year's clothes are perfectly good, quality-wise, but a culture has been created by which anyone who wears them is subject to public ridicule.

      This only applies to people that buy into fads of fashion, good clothes are timeless and will always look good no matter when you bought them; unless you bought them when you were a few sizes smaller that is.

    • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:38AM (#32346070)

      I liked what the designer said in the video she showed: "The knockoff customer is not our customer". Let's say Apple has a new design (e.g. iPhone OS). So some Chinese company "steals" the design and manufactures a device that looks the same. Obviously it has a cheaper overall build. Who would buy it? Probably not the people who would pay the big(er) bucks for an iPhone/iPad. Of course, there isn't a clear cut distinction between the 2 populations, but I believe the loss suffered by Apple is minimal, while the gain to the entire industry (and also for Apple - because it is forced to innovate) is huge. Note: Apple is just an example. This could work for Google, HP, RIAA, MPAA, you-name-it.
      This video is the first argument that really convinced me that software IP is damaging and music piracy isn't such a bad thing. I believed in it for a long time, but here I got a good example of how a different culture has bred a better (and more profitable) industry.

    • by Zarel (900479)

      Likewise in software, where upgrades are mandatory even though the current software works just fine. "But it's old tech!" the developer shouts at his utterly stupid users. "Why won't you upgrade? I really enjoyed working on this!" I recently asked a question on a support forum about Drupal. I didn't get my question answered, as the developers immediately discussed the fact I was using the "old tech" version (5) and the entire discussion became about when I was going to upgrade to the latest greatest version (7). Why should I? My software works just fine and customers are happy.

      Your software clearly doesn't "work just fine" if you're asking a support question.

      Okay, developers have many reasons for wanting users on the latest version (e.g. userbase fragmentation, which especially sucks if what you're making is multiplayer), but the biggest one is that it's hella frustrating to get bug reports about old versions. I've heard users ask "Why isn't this bug fixed yet?" about bugs that were fixed ages ago. You want to use an old version, that's fine, but if you want support, you should b

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)

      In fashion, women are required to constantly buy new clothes lest they be considered "frumpy". Last year's clothes are perfectly good, quality-wise, but a culture has been created by which anyone who wears them is subject to public ridicule.

      There's a very, very narrow demographic, who pay attention to fashion "seasons", which only last a couple of months, and have money to buy designer clothes. The closer you try to stay to the bleeding edge, the faster you have to replace your wardrobe. It's a game for people who can afford it. For the average woman, design changes are filtered through the mass market reproduction process. Their clothes are less extreme and have more staying power, probably several years.

      There's a healthy secondary market i

  • by techmuse (160085) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:33AM (#32345862)

    People copy fashions of high end items. Most people can't afford those anyway. They're too expensive. So no sales are lots.

    Clothing is a physical good. If you can make one instance of it, you still need to repeat the whole manufacturing process to make more. This is not true of digital information.

    The value of a good drops with the availability of the good. Digital information can be replicated infinitely. Clothing is much harder to replicate.

    The value of clothing drops dramatically within 3 months because fashions are seasonal. So if you can replicate it after 1 year, no one cares. This is not true of software, movies, music, etc. A lot of IP retains its value for decades or longer.

    • by MadKeithV (102058) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:14AM (#32345988)

      This is not true of software, movies, music, etc. A lot of IP retains its value for decades or longer.

      Bovine excrement.
      Most modern IP loses most of its value quite quickly. A hit song quickly stops being a hit song as new songs claw up the charts. A movie drops out of theaters after a few months. Software might have a bit more longevity, but even there it's probably around 2 to 5 years, not decades.

      Only a few classics retain value longer - but that's also true for the fashion industry. Some "vintage" haute couture is still very much sought-after.

      • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:20AM (#32346006)

        How old's the TCP/IP stack running most computers? How old's the Linux/OSX/Windows kernel? What about the MP3 file format?

        The difference between fashion and software (well, one of the many) is that software can be improved on iteratively. Even if your software is old, if it's solid and mature, people will want to built new shinies on top of its old reliable, and therefore, it was value to them.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:39AM (#32346078)

          The TCP/IP stack isn't protected. Fail.

          The difference between fashion and software (well, one of the many) is that software can be improved on iteratively.

          And that improved version gets a NEW copyright, therefore the OLD one doesn't need it any more.

          Even if your software is old, if it's solid and mature, people will want to built new shinies on top of its old reliable, and therefore, it was value to them.

          Except with closed source (heck, even most Open Source but not FOSS), you CANNOT. Go update Windows 95 so it supports the new Atom subnotes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jbolden (176878)

          The difference between fashion and software (well, one of the many) is that software can be improved on iteratively.

          I suggest you look at older fashions. Tie becomes hooks become buttons. A few natural fabrics which are local start being mixed and then synthetics get invented and the whole idea of building a fabric specific to a garment. i.e. something like the cotton / polyester blend that is likely in the shirt you are wearing didn't fall out of the sky it is a result of iterative innovation.

      • Huh???

        Let's try Mickey Mouse shall we?

        Or how about all of those stations that play 70's 80's or 90's music. You know the "real" music. 70's music is 40 YEARS ago...

        Or what about all of those remakes, and rereleases? I mean let's not start on the discussion of which is the real Star Trek... You know the original series that is nearly 50 years old...

        • Let's try Mickey Mouse shall we?

          I don't see why not. It's been years since "Steamboat Willie" was on general release. Eighty Two of them, in point of fact. I don't think there's much value left in that particular expression of the idea.

          That's if we're talking about copyright, of course. Patents happily have yet to be applied to the area, although I'd love to see the application form ("method and apparatus for extracting money from parents by means of an animated anthropomorphic animal").

          The trade mark

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)

      The value of clothing drops dramatically within 3 months because fashions are seasonal. So if you can replicate it after 1 year, no one cares. This is not true of software, movies, music, etc. A lot of IP retains its value for decades or longer.

      Only a partial retort, but the music industry already has its own version of scarcity goods : concert tickets.

  • Okay, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:44AM (#32345892)

    First off, fashion occupies a unique niche in culture and purchasing decisions. As noted http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/597 [publicknowledge.org]on a relevent blog "The fashion industry profits by setting trends in clothing, and then inducing consumers to follow those trends. This process leads us to treat clothing as a status-conferring good to be replaced once the fashion changes, rather than as a durable good to be replaced only when all the buttons fall off. Trend-driven consumption is good for the fashion industry, because it sells more clothing. " That nature is hardly applicable to software, literature, film, or design.

    The New York times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/04/us/04fashion.html?_r=2&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]ran a story that included this telling quote, "“If I see something on Style.com, all I have to do is e-mail the picture to my factory and say, ‘I want something similar, or a silhouette made just like this,’ ” Ms. Anand said. The factory, in Jaipur, India, can deliver stores a knockoff months before the designer version."

    An NPR story http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1434815 [npr.org]noted that "it's expensive and risky to actually create new designs. It's cheaper and easier to simply knock off successful ones."

    The entire point of IP is to encourage social and cultural development through the protection of initial investment. The fashion industry demonstrates what happens when IP is weakened or non-existant - a disincentive to create and develop and a thriving copy-culture.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Trend-driven consumption is good for the fashion industry, because it sells more clothing. " That nature is hardly applicable to software, literature, film, or design.

      What? There's more literature, possibly films (at the least - the "old" ones are cheap; for various values of old - I'm still speechless when somebody considers films made during last decade "old", which happens often) in the public domain than you could possibly consume in your entrire lifetime. Designs are also for the taking. Don't start me on planned obsolescence of software...

      And yet that's what everybody are doing and are quite happy.

      Perhaps building our societies on overconsumption is the only problem here...

    • Re:Okay, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @09:00AM (#32348042)

      First off, fashion occupies a unique niche in culture and purchasing decisions

      You mean unlike furniture - an industry that according to the graph in the presentation has higher annual sales numbers than movies, books and music combined?

      The entire point of IP is to encourage social and cultural development through the protection of initial investment. The fashion industry demonstrates what happens when IP is weakened or non-existant - a disincentive to create and develop

      Yes ... because the fashion industry has absolutely no new designs comming out ever. The last time I saw something new in fashion was 1973!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hierarch (466609)

      The entire point of IP is to encourage social and cultural development through the protection of initial investment. The fashion industry demonstrates what happens when IP is weakened or non-existant - a disincentive to create and develop and a thriving copy-culture.

      Now that's an interesting point. Let me ask you, what's the downside in software development? A good software developer should copy as much as possible — yes, legally, from good sources, etc. The whole point to code reuse is that one gu

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:59AM (#32345948) Homepage
    She said (paraphrasing), "Open Source. Those people decided they wanted nothing to do with copyright."

    She's a little bit wrong there when you consider that the GNU General Public License uses copyright as the vehicle through which the license is enforced. What she meant to say was that the free software movement requires people be able to copy and modify their software as part of the definition of software freedom. Not quite as good for a sound bite but a truer meaning for those who care.
    • Open Source is the exact opposite of "low-IP industries", as those tend to value trade secrets very highly.

    • by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:32AM (#32346050) Homepage

      She said (paraphrasing), "Open Source. Those people decided they wanted nothing to do with copyright." She's a little bit wrong there when you consider that the GNU General Public License uses copyright as the vehicle through which the license is enforced. What she meant to say was that the free software movement requires people be able to copy and modify their software as part of the definition of software freedom. Not quite as good for a sound bite but a truer meaning for those who care.

      Your claim is not correct either. Just because the GNU GPL uses copyright as a vehicle to enforce the license does not mean that the FSF wants, endorses, or supports software copyright. In fact, if you search through Richard Stallman's writings and speeches, he makes it pretty clear that using software copyrights in the GPL is merely his way of making the best of a bad situation. Although the GPL uses software copyrights, the FSF does not support software copyright, by any means.

      For example, in "Why Software Should Not Have Owners" [gnu.org], Richard Stallman writes:

      Digital technology is more flexible than the printing press: when information has digital form, you can easily copy it to share it with others. This very flexibility makes a bad fit with a system like copyright.

      That's a clear and unambiguous statement against software copyright. The motivation for the GPL and copyleft is described as follows [gnu.org]:

      I figure that since proprietary software developers use copyright to stop us from sharing, we cooperators can use copyright to give other cooperators an advantage of their own: they can use our code.

      In summary, it's not entirely correct to say that the FSF wants anything to do with copyright just because the GPL uses copyright. It's more accurate to say that the FSF wants nothing to do with copyright, but that practical considerations forced them to participate in the copyright system against their will.

      Of course, it's certainly true that not all developers agree with the FSF, but if you're going to cite the GPL as an example of the free software community's stance on software copyright, then you are obliged to give greater weight than usual to the FSF's position on software copyright in this context, because the FSF created the GPL.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      It is a vehicle to mandate openness of sources. Remove copyright laws and mandate source code bundling when selling binaries of a software and free software fans will be more than happy.
  • by Qubit (100461) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:05AM (#32345964) Homepage Journal

    TED talks might be "ideas worth spreading," but unfortunately Johanna Blakley is spreading nothing but half-truths and misconceptions about FOSS in her talk.

    Don't get me wrong -- I have no impression that she's acting with malicious intent. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she was supportive of the open source business model. But regardless of intent, her voice carries great weight when she's given the microphone at a TED talk.

    11:50
    "Open source software. These guys decided they didn't want copyright protection. They thought it'd be more innovative without it."

    False. Some FOSS developers eschew some of the protections granted to them through copyright law and grant everyone very permissive licenses to their code. Other developers have used a clever hack to create a body of "copyleft" work -- code that can be used and expanded upon, contingent upon derivative works being distributed under the same terms as the original work.

    Very few FOSS developers put their code into the public domain.

    13:50
    Around this point she shows a chart.

    The chart has two axes:
    X: "Property (Art)" -> "Free (Utility)" and
    Y: "Physical Fixed Expression" -> "Idea/Digital Manifestation".

    The left two quadrants are colored grey and have "COPYRIGHT PROTECTED" written above them. The right two quadrants and colored white and have "NOT COPYRIGHT PROTECTED" above them.

    She plots "OPEN SOURCE CODE" on the chart exactly in between "Idea/Digital Manifestation" and "Free (Utility)", placing it on the right hand, "NOT COPYRIGHT PROTECTED" side of the chart.

    At least for the moment, computer code is copyrightable in the US. And as I stated before, most FOSS code is copyright protected.

    I think that Blakley has a lot of interesting ideas, and certainly knows more about the fashion industry than I, but she's needlessly negligent in her characterization of how FOSS interacts with copyright law.

    Perhaps I should write her a polite letter...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:17AM (#32346206)

      ...she's needlessly negligent in her characterization of how FOSS interacts with copyright law.

      Yes ... but in this context, the difference isn't that important (and might have confused her audience). There's no source/binary distinction with clothing - producing duplicates of a new garment is trivial compared to reverse-engineering a compiled binary. The GPL uses copyright to prevent people from locking up source code - but in fashion, that ability has never existed in the first place, so from their point of view open-source coders are giving up all the parts of copyright that matter to them.

    • by RCC42 (1457439)

      My instinct tells me you're being sarcastic, but if not... holy crap on a cracker you need to get out more!

  • by asto21 (1797450) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:08AM (#32345968)
    What free culture? This is an industry that has no qualms about charging thousands of dollars for a pretty piece of cloth!
  • Talk was wrong... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:25AM (#32346022)

    The speaker is getting her things mixed up.

    Open source is copyrighted. And if it were not then people would copy without any regards. For example the GPL works BECAUSE of copyright. It uses copyright to keep free.

    • by MeNeXT (200840)

      The GPL exists because of copyright to keep the code free. Her point is simple and accurate. You need to read up on FSF and Richard Stallman.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:32AM (#32346048)

    Fashion is about standing out, getting attention and signalling belonging to an elite clique. Items cannot be replicated infinitely. Because items are easy to create, many are created. Brand matters.
    Computer software is about utility - does it work or not. Items can be replicated infinitely. Because items are difficult to create, very few are created. Brand does not matter.

    With fashion, what you pay for is 1) the physical item itself, 2) the time that went into designing the item, 3) the prestige the creator has built for themselves.
    With computer software, there is clearly no point in paying for the physical item itself, and no point in paying for any prestige either.

    You could say that "if you could download clothes fully made there would still be an industry based around design" - true, but the example isn't transferable, because clothes, as mentioned above, are easy to create and many are created. If designing a dress cost $200m, and copies made of it were sold _marked with the same brand and in the same stores_, it would never be designed in the first place.

    In fact, the important thing in fashion isn't about copyright protection, it's about trademark protection. Why does Armani sell? Because, although people can copy their style, they cannot copy their brand. It's trademark protection that is key to the profitability of the fashion industry - which she does NOT mention at all. Trademark is to fashion what copyright is to computers. Ask a designer how they would feel if trademark protection was removed, and you would see any "brand" they seek to create for themselves copied identically by mass producers. By pretending that the fashion industry thrives with no copyright protection, she fails to point out that their "intellectual property" is their TM, which they guard like hawks. This is deceptive. You go to jail for violating fashion trademarks. I would even argue that fashion trademarks are even stricter than computer copyrights.

    Not to mention that to base projections about downloads on current download/sales ratios are deceptive - because if copyright violation was legal, companies would rapidly spring up, in the style of Steam, with a menu of software ready to pipe to home computers. Why pay for a movie in a store when you can have a library of every movie ever created instantly available only for the cost of bandwidth? With the current torrent system, at least a) your bandwidth may be limited, which market pressure would stop it from if copyright violation was legal; b) there are a few steps involved in burning the ISO; c) you will miss out on patches and downloadable content. If copyright violation was legal a Steam-like system would spring up in 2-3 months, with a well-managed system of circumventing copy protection. This would again lead to an explosion of even stricter anti-circumvention, probably involving hardware, which would add multiple layers of cost.

    Why must KDawson be evil enough to put forward deceptive examples uncritically to serve his ideology? Can everyone else do the same thing? Or is being deceptive good as long as it serves the cause of good? It doesn't exactly inspire me to show much regard in return.

    • by oDDmON oUT (231200) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:10AM (#32346442)

      It's trademark protection that is key to the profitability of the fashion industry - which she does NOT mention at all.

      Actually, she does. More than once. Did you watch the video?

      The point that she makes is that the ability to create derivative works fuels innovation, makes money, and fosters creativity, a point that I totally agree with.

      Your assertion that "If designing a dress cost $200m, and copies made of it were sold _marked with the same brand and in the same stores_, it would never be designed in the first place." is specious.

      Movies that cost $200M (and more, much more), are greenlighted all the time, bomb at the box office, die in the dustbins of discount DVDs, still don't recover their budgetary costs, and yet that doesn't stop more from being made. Does it?

      Which leads to the question: Why do movies that cost millions to make generally suck the most?

      Could it be that the old business models, dinosaurian management, and a sense of protected entitlement, foster a culture that recycles themes, prizes visual efx over story, stifles creativity and throttles risk taking?

      Look at some of the most successful, highest grossing movies of the last 15 years and I think you'll see more that were made on relatively small budgets (Blair Witch Project being the poster child, but there are others [wikipedia.org]) than you will Summer Blockbusters. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was turned down for production by all the major studios until Playtone picked it up, dropped it in the can for $5M and to date it's grossed $369M worldwide.

      No, I'm with Johanna Blakely, less protectionism, less legislation, and less artificial control will foster change, evolution and creation, and that's something we should look forward to.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine (196982)

      Computer software is about utility

      More than once she mentions items which don't have copyright protections because they are "too utilitarian." If computer software is "about utility" why should it have copyright protection?

      As far as trademark is concerned, this only really applies to the logo. You can't trademark a design. I can't make a new type of shoe and say "this is trademarked so now you can't copy it." I can, however, make a unique "shoe logo" and stamp it prominently on every shoe I sell. Then,

  • by SeaFox (739806)

    Nice pun in the title there, kdawson.

  • Software = Recipe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cthulhuology (746986) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:00AM (#32346406) Homepage
    I loved the rationale that a recipe is "just a list of instructions and therefore not copyrightable". Maybe we should apply the same logic to software which is "just a list of instructions" and somehow therefore copyrightable? It does not compute... Personally, I have in the past 27 years of programming not once directly profited from copyright. The only software to which I've retained copyright is software that I wrote under the GPL, and all of the other software has been work for hire. Of the work for hire, not a single line of that code was ever sold! All of the code that was distributed as done so freely, usually to capture and audience or promote another product or event. Would it make any difference to me if software were not copyrightable? Hell Yes! I would have just as much programming to do, but I could re-use software I have already written. As it stands now, the only software I can reuse on each job is the code I wrote under that I placed under GPL! And it is because of that code, that I always have work that I have to turn down due to lack of time. So for some of us, the Fashion model is reality in software, just we end up knocking our own work off over and over again for different clients with different tastes.
  • With that bar chart at around 12:24 - is she implying that correlation == causation? Here, in the slashdots?

    Also, I'd like to see what's included within the food category. Restaurant & takeaway only? Or are branded convenience foods included? How about basic ingredients?

  • by hldn (1085833) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:36AM (#32346568) Homepage

    fuck you, i would if i could.

  • Completely wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devi n m oore.com> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:02AM (#32346734) Homepage Journal

    Fashion doesn't need copyright because they have super-aggressive design patent and trademark protections. Coca-cola doesn't have to worry about copyright on the coca-cola logo design on shirts because the design is a registered trademark, and thus is way easier and more powerful to prosecute than a wimpy ol' copyright. I am surprised that this would qualify as a TED talk since it seems to completely miss the point, but I haven't seen too many... are they all this wrong?

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:58AM (#32347184) Homepage Journal

    Any asshole can make umpteen zillion copies of an mp3, but it takes equipment to churn out a bunch of dresses. Car parts work the same way; unless some patent prevents you from replicating them, you can make all the replacement parts you want. Unless there's a design patent on it, you can copy the design of a fender, and then stamp out knockoffs as fast as you can sell them... but it takes enough equipment to work sheet metal like that. Clearly, material and nonmaterial goods are fundamentally different. That's why we have separate laws for theft of property and "theft" of ideas.

    (ObDisclaimer: I didn't watch some woman blather for fifteen minutes, when if I had the opportunity, I could read the same shit in three. Posting video links is stupid, Ted Talks is stupid for not having transcripts, and their website sucks for requiring Javascript.)

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth&5-cent,us> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @11:25AM (#32349862) Homepage

    The *entire* point of patents, as defined in the US Constitution, is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

    Notice it says "limited time", because it does *not* promote progress by giving unlimited time. In fact, you could argue (and I'd love to see someone take this to court) that the DCMA violates this clause, as well as the current patent law, since it prevents progress.

                        mark

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @11:34AM (#32349978) Homepage

    Fashion depends on churn. There aren't many original ideas. If you look at this year's runway fashion, and are familiar with the history of fashion, you can usually find a matching piece from decades ago. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York has a large library of clothing against which new designs can be compared. This year, we have khaki (again), Gautier is trying green spandex shorts (80s aerobic wear), and Issey Miyake is over-pleating again (he did that better in the '80s) and using pink accents (so last year.) The jeans industry keeps fussing with various levels of fading, but they've been doing that for so long that nobody is paying much attention.

    There's some technological progress, and it gets IP protection. Gore-Tex was patented, and for a long time, had a monopoly over waterproof fabrics that breathe well. Progress in materials, in sewing technology, and in cleaning has led to new ranges of clothing. Jeans, for example, depend on a sewing technology for strong corners that's only about fifty years old. (Today, rivets in jeans are decorative, not structural.) Sportswear, which was invented by Coco Chanel, wasn't really feasible before washing machines. Elastic fabrics opened up many new options. Not much new has come along in the last two decades, ("pleather" made a small splash) and fashion technology has somewhat stagnated.

    As the TED talk points out, the big thing today is trademark protection via "designer labels". This is a relatively new concept. Until the late 1970s, no respectable garment maker would have the designer's mark visible, let alone a prominent feature of the design. Logos were associated with cheap T-shirts. The interlocking double C now associated with Chanel did not appear on Chanel products until the 1980s.

    The apparel distribution pipeline is incredibly inefficient. Over 60% of apparel is eventually sold on sale. There's a hierarchy. First there's the initial sale, with a big markup. Then there's the sale rack at the original retailer, with the original tags still attached. Then there's the discount retailer who buys from the original retailer and resells from their own store. Finally, the unsold apparel is rolled into big balls about eight feet in diameter, which are rolled into shipping containers and shipped to third world countries for final sale, or recycled into nonwoven fabrics like cleaning cloths. There was an attempt during the dot-com era, called "Tradeweave", to create a secondary trading market in unsold apparel, but it only lasted from 1999-2001.

    The watch industry is a branch of the fashion industry now. "We are not in the watch industry, we are are in the luxury industry" says the CEO of Rolex. They had the basic problem that their overpriced machinery is less accurate than a midrange quartz watch, and they now have the worse problem that people who grew up with cell phones see no need for watches. There have been attempts by the phone industry to do "designer cell phones", but so far, that's mostly a joke. Apple tried to position themselves as a high-end product, but you can now get an iPhone at WalMart for $97. Emulating the fashion industry hasn't worked for technology industries.

    • Here's the bottom of the apparel food chain. [alibaba.com] "Bulk Bale Clothing". $0.25/lb. Minimum order 55,000 pounds. Supply availability 1,000,000 pounds per month. Bulk in 1000 pound bales.

      That's just one of a hundred similar suppliers. "We currently have 28 containers of brand name clothing acquired in a bank deal." "250,000 lbs baled used clothing. 25% coats,sweaters, heavy clothing. $0.84/lb."

      That's life in the no-IP world of apparel. The wastage is enormous.

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