Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Posh confession raises copyight issues

Weighing in at nearly 3,000 words, Lisa Armstrong's "Posh Frocks" (Times Online) provides a fascinating insight into the mind of Victoria Beckham, once better known as Posh Spice but now a fashion label in her own right. This interview touches on an aspect of copyright law that is often poorly understood:
"Without apparently taking offence (she has been fighting cynicism since she started school), she tells me that she does the designing. “Do I draw? No. Then again, nor do lots of designers. But I put it all on myself and walk around in it, and I know what feels comfortable. I know how a dress should sit. I've worn so many in the past and when I see the photographs I think, crikey, my boobs are up round my neck again because the corsets are too short and not cut high enough. Like I knew I would spend a lot on the best-quality zips because, like many women, I've had my share of crappy zips. I wanted a zip that undoes from both ends because then you can either put the dress on over your head or, if you don't want to mess up your hair, you can step into it - and also, you know, going to the loo wouldn't be this whole big palaver.”"
This raises the issues of authorship and ownership of copyright and design right in clothes designs, templates for manufacture and the garments themselves. If the person producing the actual embodiment of the design is not the designer herself, and if that person has sufficient scope for artistic discretion that the resulting design reflects a degree of artistic initiative from the person producing the sketches as well as the person giving the instructions, it's easy for copyright disputes to arise. A few swift strokes of the lawyer's pen can produce a solution to this problem that is at once both functional and elegant -- and which won't spoil anyone's hair-do.