Proposed Design Piracy Law Moves Forward

December 01, 2010

On Dec. 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted a version of the proposed law to protect fashion design.

Senate Bill 3728, known as the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), was introduced last August by Sen. Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.). The current version of the proposed law, which seeks to extend copyright protection to fashion designs, has been revised from its earlier version, the never-enacted Design Piracy Protection Act (DPPA).

The proposed law has drawn a sharp divide between opponents, which include the California Fashion Association, and proponents, including the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The America Apparel and Footwear Association opposed the earlier version of the proposed law, but after working with lawmakers on several key issues, now supports the measure.

At the committee meeting, an amendment to the IDPPPA was proposed which would require the losing party to pay all legal fees, but the committee adopted S.B. 3728 without the amendment, according to CFA President Ilse Metchek.

“The loser-pays amendment alternative was a huge step in a direction we want to go,” said Metchek, who added, “In a way, I’m glad it passed without the amendment. Now, we can go forward with a total objection to the law.”

The bill will now go to the floor for a vote, although it is unclear whether the senate will vote on it before the December recess.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for hearing on the matter, and other Judiciary Committee members indicated they were “amenable” to it, according to the AAFA’s Kurt Courtney.

Metchek said if hearings are held on the matter “We will be there,” and promised “a full-court press to get the bill off the table.”

But Courtney said there’s disagreement in the industry over the concept of the legislation rather than the content of the proposed bill.

“I think people are a lot more in agreement than they think,” he said. “This bill really draws the line between inspiration and copying. We all understand the importance of inspiration in design, most of which comes from articles found in the public domain. The bill seeks to protect that original artwork in fashion, not the utilitarian parts. This is specifically targeted at the most original artistic fashion that has never been seen before.”--Alison A. Nieder

Proposed Design Piracy Law Moves Forward