Copying after a fashion

Came across a TEDxUSC (University of Southern California) talk by Johanna Blakely (link). She discusses the differences in approach between the fashion industry, where there is very little intellectual property protection, no copyright protection, no patent protection and only trademark protection (the reason for logo chic).

She focuses on the statement often used by the music and video industry to justify copyright -

Without ownership there is no incentive to innovate

One has to only look at Lady Gaga’s latest outfit to see the absurdity of that statement. lady-gaga-queen Fashion designers can sample and remix to their hearts content without any fear that they are impinging on someone else’s copyrighted work. This freedom of action has led to a ‘culture of copying’ a.k.a. a trend and fuelled the rise and success of the fashion industry.

But this effect does not only apply to fashion. Jokes and recipes can not be copyrighted (good news to all those e-mail forwarders amongst us). For comedians, the result has been the rise of a new style of comic, when everyone can use (and reuse) the same one-liners, comedians with personas (Seinfeld for example) become the new norm.

The kicker in the talk is when she compares the revenue of low IP industries (food, automobiles, fashion, furniture) with that of high IP industries (film, books, music).

Blakely TEDxUSC Gross sales

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

A copy of her charts (with some awesome fashion statements) can be found at the following link.