Are You an Academy Awards Fashion Criminal?


Still depressed that "Hangover 3" wasn't nominated for Best Picture? Don't worry. At least you're not an Academy Awards fashion criminal!

On Feb. 23, 2011, Reason TV looked at the push to extend copyright protection to the creations of fashion designers. The policy, had it been adopted, would've helped successful fashionistas like Diane von Furstenburg, who supports a three-year monopoly on new fashions.

But the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act would've hurt bargain-hunters, while putting young designers under constant threat of legal action.

The original text follows:

Say you don't have the dough to add the fashions you see at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony to your closet. If you buy knockoffs instead, are you shopping smart or stealing?

Today it's perfectly legal to copy whatever you see on the red carpet and sell it yourself. To some, such as Diane Von Furstenberg, this sounds a lot like theft. The former German princess is one of the world's most successful fashion designers and she's teaming up with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push a bill that would give designers a three-year monopoly on new creations.

The whole point of intellectual property is to spur innovation, and that, according to supporters, is exactly why the fashion industry needs such a bill. Without tougher protections, they say designers will have less incentive to create new looks.

But is the fashion industry really hurting for innovation? And are top-tier designers like Von Furstenberg really getting ripped off by bargain hunters? And even if they were, who's to say whose look is truly original?

Johanna Blakely of USC's Norman Lear Center worries that the relentless push for more intellectual property protection could lead to a situation where big design houses lawyer up and sue young designers. Designer Galina Sobolov, head designer and owner of Single by Galina Sobolov, agrees.

"If this bill was in effect as we grew our company, we would have faced probably millions of lawsuits," says Sobolov, whose designs have been worn by celebs such as Katy Perry and Rachel Hunter. "And we would have never actually had a company."

Approximately 6.30 minutes.