Tim has spent over 20 years educating aspiring fashion designers; Leanne is one of the extremely talented creators who have benefited from his guidance. Together they have a great deal of insight into what it takes for a young designer to succeed -- and how the law can assist in those efforts. (Leanne's Fall 2009 collection, by the way, is lovely. Just imagine the hours it took to create this many-petaled gown, which I had the pleasure of viewing at her show along with Tom & Lorenzo (formerly the Project Rungay Boys), Ann, Barb, and Emmett.)
Design Piracy Prohibition Act, H.R. 2196 (again, apologies for not being able to share it during the drafting process), would -- like its predecessors -- protect original, registered fashion designs for 3 years via an amendment to the Copyright Act. The new elements of the bill, developed in conversation with members of the industry, include the following:
- an enhanced definition of a fashion design,
- a heightened standard of infringement ("closely and substantially similar," previously part of the Senate version of the bill),
- specific defenses to infringement, such as merely reflecting a trend and independent creation,
- increased penalties for false representation,
- a registration period of 6 (rather than 3) months, and
- creation of a searchable database of registered designs.
How will the DPPA work in the U.S.? Ideally by changing the behavior of determined design pirates, whose business models are currently based on cherrypicking the season's best designs and producing cheap copies, often before the real things can even make it into stores. Once the law creates liability, these copyists will have to actually hire designers of their own and make at least a few changes, or else risk paying out their profits to the rightful owners of the original designs. Or, as Tim Gunn succinctly puts it when describing the DPPA, as a shield rather than a sword.
In short, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act represents the cutting edge of intellectual property protection, narrowly tailored to suit a seasonal industry. All puns intended.
Related post: March on Washington