STOP FASHION PIRACY
We the undersigned, support The Design Piracy Prohibition Act (HR 2196) currently under consideration by the U.S. Congress, proposed at the behest of the fashion industry. Fashion in the U.S. is a $350 billion industry. America’s fashion designers have become some of the most sought-after throughout the world. However, difficult economic times have hit fashion perhaps even harder than many other sectors of America’s economy. Coupled with piracy from foreign importers, the economic reality for American designers, most of whom are small businesses, is catastrophic. This downturn also hurts industries that support fashion including printing, trucking, distribution, publishing, advertising, media, merchandising, and retail. Young fashion designers are doing their part to fuel America’s economic comeback. The level of originality seen on runways this season continues to surpass and surprise. As reported in the news, retailers are looking to original design in high fashion to keep American consumers interested in retail sales; indeed mass market retailers are increasingly licensing designers to create collections to sell in their stores at reasonable prices. However, pirates are stealing from these designers, making low quality copies with cheap labor abroad, and importing them into the U.S. to compete with the original designs. Unfortunately, this is malicious act of theft, is currently LEGAL under U.S. law because FASHION DESIGN is NOT protected. American fashion design students who dedicate their precious time and money to be trained as professional designers by experienced faculty at established colleges and universities fall victims to this non-protection. Today unfortunately in the US, too many fashion design companies find it easier, and more convenient to copy or be "inspired" by these creative individuals work rather than hiring them. The passing of the Design Piracy Prohibition Act will increase the demand for new generations of creative fashion designers, that is so necessary to regenerate this ever-evolving industry, protecting it from stagnation, as well as sustaining the need for a high level of fashion education and creative training. The development of new technologies has considerably worsened the design piracy problem since, via the internet, pirates have immediate access to all fashion creations the minute they are revealed to the public. Knock-off garments are now often marketed before the initial designers can market their originals. Last year Congress enhanced the ability to enforce laws against counterfeits – pirated designs with a fake label - but pirated fashion designs with no label remain unprotected in the U.S. Design piracy is simply counterfeiting without the label and it should also be outlawed by Congress. America is the world fashion leader, and yet it is the only industrialized country that does not provide protection for fashion design. Europe, India, and Japan, for example, provide 10 to 25 years of design protection. The Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA) would improve the playing field for American designers by providing a minimal of THREE years of design protection for registered designs. Once it becomes law, every design that has been available for sale prior to enactment will be considered to be in the public domain; ONLY unique and original designs from then on would be protected from fashion piracy. Moreover, the DPPA permits the influence of trends with the inclusion of language to make clear that reproducing a trend does not infringe the protection granted under the bill. America designers are creative and it is the young independent designers who are most vulnerable from being shut down by those who steal from them, and by doing so eliminate American jobs. Their creativity can help fuel America’s economic comeback and grow the economy, but they need a little help from Congress to do so. Please help pass the Design Piracy Prohibition Act by endorsing it now.