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Monday, September 20, 2010

There's No Copyright in Fashion

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I recently stumbled upon this TED Talk at USC with Johanna Blakley who spoke of the lack of intellectual property in the fashion industry in the USA today and how it could spark innovation in other creative industries who seem to be in trouble today (yes, we're talking about you books, movies, and music).

While a fascinating talk, provided with images and a well-crafted argument contrasting different cultures and other creative industries that lack copyright protection (food, perfume, game rules, software, automobiles, to name a few), I couldn't help but point out the lack of applicability to music and video.

First, people are not distributing knock-off versions of multimedia (well, some are... which explains why SoundCloud and HypeMachine seem to be doing so well), but rather most are giving away the original version for free in a digital format. Also, while convincingly articulated, the graphic the speaker presents is quite misleading. People are required to buy clothes, not so much music and movies. The fact that a family can share a single movie between an entire household while each generally require their own set of clothes proves that the market models are highly imbalanced in nature and thus, may not take in a copyright-less model so easily.

For me, I won't deny that entertainment (catered experiences packaged into bits and bytes for consumption) whether it be games, music, or movies, deserve compensation for all their hard work. However, unlike fashion where technology has helped exposure for fashionistas, the whole digital revolution has pushed music and movies into the brink of where they are now more viewed as "ideas" and "intangible" than anything. So yeah - maybe music should be free, but to what benefit to the industry does breaking out into something completely wild and robust free-for-all model, potentially requiring a constant rebirth and redesign every few seconds?

Everything it needs to survive, probably. But there's something missing, and someone needs to find out what that is.

Meanwhile, they need to stop pissing off the Internet if they want some smart people to help them dig out of the shit hole they've dug themselves in over the past decade plus.

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