For fashion designers of all scales, copyright protection is a much-needed precaution in this digital age.
That was the message from a foursome of authorities discussing “Parallel Worlds: Copyright, Cheerleaders and Conceptual Separability” at Friday’s Fashion Law Institute Symposium. Moderated by Fordham’s Susan Scafidi, the hourlong discussion explored how U.S. copyright protection for clothing and other “useful articles” is currently limited to conceptually separable elements such as fabric prints and lace patterns. The term also applies to the frequently cited case of Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, which deemed that Barry Kieselstein-Cord’s artistic belt buckles were closer to jewelry than their utilitarian counterparts.
Afterward, Kieselstein-Cord said many designers don’t pursue copyright protection simply because they are not informed. “They’re not aware of it, because designers, generally speaking, are artists. Most of them don’t have a business background,” he said. “They need someone from the real world to tell them how to protect themselves.”
Kieselstein-Cord said, “In the world of fashion, art and design, the art of the rip-off is very much at hand. They’ll get young artists and designers, and a predatory company will want to rip them off very quickly, make a killing and then pay a small fee. They already know
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