Connecticut Law Review Volume 45 – Issue 1

Protecting the Seasonal Arts: Fashion Design, Copyright Law, and the Viability of the Innovative Design Protection & Piracy Prevention Act

The Innovative Design Protection & Piracy Prevention Act of 2011 (“IDPPPA”) crafts a sui generis form of copyright protection for fashion designs.  The IDPPPA is not a revolutionary attempt for the U.S. Congress; it is instead a reflection of the fashion industry’s unique history, the fashion industry’s unique economics, decades of heated academic debate, scores of previous legislative drafts, and hours of testimony during Congressional hearings.  This Note argues that copyright protection should be extended to fashion designs, and that a viable extension of such protection is possible through the IDPPPA with two modifications.  This conclusion is first supported by an analysis of the industry’s legal history; taken as a whole, this survey places in stark relief the arguments against blatant copying that have remained unchanged for over a century.  This conclusion is also supported by an analysis of the economic and policy arguments that polarize the debate regarding the merits of protection.  This Note strives to reconcile this debate—and quell the storm—with a succinct definition for “fashion” (the actual good that copyright law would protect), a definite and viable temporal window for copyright protection, and a reconciliation of the policy preoccupations that have continued to divide Congress and the fashion industry’s designers.  This Note concludes with a review of the IDPPPA, suggestions for the further alleviations of critics’ fears, and a call to Congress to finally recognize American fashion designs as protectable art.

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