Thursday, 25 March 2010

Rights in fashion: what the Pirate Party says

Noting that the prospect of a General Election in the UK is looming larger than a mirror full of unwanted muffin top, Fashionista has decided that it would be a great idea to discover what the many and varied political parties have to say about the fashion industry. To this end she has recently been engaged in correspondence with Pirate Party leader Andrew Robinson, on the subject of that party's position with regard to the fashion industry. After all, the Pirate Party is not known for its sympathetic position regarding intellectual property rights, particularly regarding copyright in recorded works and the protection of computer software. This is what Andrew said:
"I'll admit that the fashion industry isn't the strong point of a party whose membership consists predominantly of young men who spend a lot of time on the internet, and that's why we won't have much to say about this area in our forthcoming election manifesto. Broadly, our stance is that trade mark law, and the laws that cover 'passing off' do a very good job of protecting rights in this area, so we do not see the need for any changes there. We are strongly opposed to commercial counterfeiting, and believe that a great deal of good would come from concentrating law enforcement efforts on that problem rather than on persecuting relatively harmless file sharers.

Our proposals for legalisation of non-commercial copying would probably not have any impact on the retail trade, and in a fast moving industry like fashion our proposals to reduce the length of copyright would barely make an impact apart from giving the t-shirt industry more freedom to plunder the past for images. Having said that, I'm aware of a groundswell of opinion in the party that counterfeiting laws shouldn't be (ab)used to stop 'gray imports' of products such as jeans and perfume that are not counterfeit (as the man in the street would understand the word).

We also feel that a broad review of copyright and patent law is needed necessary now that the internet takes the possibility of infringement out of the purely business-to-business domain and into the consumer v business arena, and that to make the law more understandable for consumers it would make sense to explicitly write into law a lot of rules that are currently just case law; however, realistically we are a very young party that is very busy with our first election, and we are aware that we don't have the spare skilled manpower needed to do a good job of such a monumental undertaking, so I'll have to borrow to a rather horrible political weasel word from the big parties and admit that is currently an 'aspiration', not a policy".
Fashionista looks forward to reporting on the position of the other parties too, before the polls open, and to presenting them to her dedicated readers.