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Historically, in the USA (and some other countries), clothing was exempt from the protections afforded by copyright as it was considered “an article of use”. Being that we’re bilaterally symmetrical bipeds, there’s not so many possibilities to create clothing that doesn’t strongly resemble other clothing. Actual clothing patterns could be copyrighted, as well as photographs and other images of clothing, but the basic designs themselves were exempt.

That all could suddenly change overnight now.

Mostly off the radar, a new act wandered through the US Senate. Specifically a bill “To amend title 17, United States Code, to extend protection to fashion design, and for other purposes” called The Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act – or IDPPPA.

The IDPPPA allows the prosecution of similar designs for clothing, which need not be limited to physical clothing, but also of virtual items. Formerly, only the trademark text, logos or other iconography on clothing was protected – but now the whole design is.

How long before the clothing makers with the largest gangs of lawyers start destroying everyone smaller for either real or imagined – intentional or unintentional or even unavoidable – similarities in clothing designs, both physical and virtual?

[via Patchouli Woollahra, who also has a link to the draft Act]

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Categories: Copyright, Law.

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