Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Feb 25, 2006 5:42am

fashion gets it

This CS Monitor article, Control of creativity? Fashion's secret, is over two years old, but resurfaced recently into my field of awareness. It contains this gem:

For virtually all players in fashion, some form of derivation, recombination, imitation, revival of old styles, and outright knockoff is the norm. Few denounce, let alone sue, the appropriator for "creative theft." They're too busy trying to stay ahead of the competition through the sheer power of their design and marketing prowess.

There seem to be two factors that make the fashion industry impervious to the kinds of intellectual property rigamarole plaguing the content industries: high speed and discernment. For the fashion world, creative cycles are measured in months, and any designer spending time pursuing creative rip-offs by others is probably falling behind on their next season's line.

Fashion appreciation also seems to require a high degree of perceptual subtlety and historical awareness. You don't just waltz into the haute couture industry without a deep understanding of the effect of small decisions and the web of aesthetic influences among competing designers. The entire industry is founded on the idea that there is a crucial and fundamental difference between a dress you see on the runway and one you see at the TJ Maxx. The former gains credibility and distinction by the presence of a near-identical latter, the same way that quoting another musician or filmmaker confers status on the source of the gesture.

The saddest aspect of Big Content's lawsuit blitz is the complete banality of the material they are defending, its utter and complete worthlessness. The total creative bankruptcy of these industries makes a nitpicking IP-based lawsuit culture necessary, because there's nothing else of value to defend. I suspect that their zeal to squash any artisic form or distribution method which doesn't pay tribute to traditional cartel privileges results from a deep realization of how useless their industry is in the face of genuine culture and spontaneous creativity.

Rant off.


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