April 08, 2008

Design Piracy Prohibition Act - H.R. 2033

If you are in the fashion industry, maybe you have heard of this attempt to expand US Copyright law to include fashion designs. This bill is sponsored by Rep. William Delahunt (Dem) of Massachusetts and has support by the fashion elite. The bill was introduced April 2007 and is currently in the judiciary committee.

If you look at the actual bill text, you will find the definition of apparel expansive and the infringement penalties rather severe. I oppose the bill because there are enough protections currently in place, through current patent, trademark, and copyright laws. I can't figure out how the fashion elite can support this bill. If they don't want their clothing copied within 24 hours of a runway show, then invite only industry insiders and not the press core. The passage of this bill is more about protecting the fashion elite and less about protecting theft of intellectual property.

If this bill passes, I will probably quit the design end of the business. I can't afford IP lawyers ($500/hr) to research for possible infringement nor filing fees. It will slow the speed of getting product to market. Maybe, maybe, I would retreat back to the technical arena. In any event, all of you small DE's (ebay and etsy too), watch out. This bill will drastically affect you. I may sound paranoid, but believe me the passage of this bill is a big deal.

Even though my representatives are not on any committees crafting the bill, I still took the initiative to write to my representatives about my opposition. I was surprised to receive a personal letter from my representative. While he didn't indicate which way he would vote, he was grateful to know that this bill could impact some of the state's small businesses.

I encourage you to write to your representative and express your views.

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