Monday, November 12, 2007

Piracy good for fashion industry

Open source software proponents have long argued that "relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions" is good for the development of the software industry in general. Ideas get shared and exchanged quickly, and as a result we (consumers) get more frequent improvements in existing softwares as well as new software innovations in whole. Of course, on the other hand proprietary software proponents have claimed this all to be "piracy" and that it harms the software industry.

James Surowiecki recently pointed out that piracy is actually good for the fashion industry.
"There’s little evidence that knockoffs (cheap fakes - muli) are damaging the business. Fashion sales have remained more than healthy... and the high-end firms that so often see their designs copied have become stronger. More striking, a recent paper by the law professors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman suggests that weak intellectual-property rules, far from hurting the fashion industry, have instead been integral to its success. The professors call this effect “the piracy paradox.”
Copying enables designs and styles to move quickly from early adopters to the masses. And since no one cool wants to keep wearing something after everybody else is wearing it, the copying of designs helps fuel the incessant demand for something new.

The situation is not necessarily easy on designers, who have to keep coming up with new ideas rather than being able to milk a trend for years. But it means that in the industry as a whole there is more innovation, more competition, and probably more sales than there otherwise would be."