How the fashion industry thrives without IP protection

How the fashion industry thrives without IP protection

Summary: High-IP industries are far smaller than those that have low copyright protection.

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TOPICS: Education
14
2013-08-04_11-27-14

 

In this TED Education video, media maven Johanna Blakeley looks at the effects of intellectual protection on various industries and shows how less protection encourages creativity, innovation, and dollars.

The chart (above) clipped from her TED talk (below) shows the relative size of low-IP industries on the left (food, automobiles, fashion) versus high-IP industries on the right (films, books, music.)

It's a fascinating talk. Let's see what the lessons are for the high-IP industries going forward because their IP has been seriously breached without consequence, thanks to the Internet and web services such as Google's Youtube, which hosts millions of copyrighted films and TV programmes.

To be fair, Ms. Blakeley should provide a chart from 2000 rather than 2007. Maybe we could then compare it with 2007, or better yet 2012, to see if less IP has helped those industries. Maybe Google is an agent of change and dollars for those industries and companies, such as Viacom that claim to have been harmed.

 

 

Topic: Education

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  • Interesting video

    But I don't think correlation is causality here. The fashion industry is big because, well , it is :) I mean everybody needs clothes, everybody needs multiple items of clothing, they need to replace them regularly, there is a certain natural barrier to entry that has developed. I didn't get big because protections were not there, it got big because there is a huge HUGE market. The small industries are small not because of protections, they are small because they are luxury items, they enhance our lives but their growth is limited.
    oncall
    • People are more fickle about fashion

      The thing about the fashion (clothes, shoes, accessories, etc) is that it has short shelf life. Today's fashion is obsolete in a few months time. The other thing is the amount of effort, resource to develop software, technology, medicine can take years. Whereas for fashion, well its subjective and probably take much less time to cook up a design.
      Tigerz67
  • And none of what you said imlies they need protection either.

    The software industry is big because, well, it is. Everybody needs software...

    Its everywhere.

    So why does it need protection?
    jessepollard
    • I don't know

      Why does it need protection? Why do you think I was arguing it needed protection?

      I was not arguing for or against protection. I was suggesting that her point that the clothing industry was big because it lacked protection was possibly erroneous, it is possibly a "non sequitur" argument. The clothing industry is large and successful (true). The clothing industry lacks IP protection (true). Therefore the lack of protection has produced the success of the clothing industry (non sequitur). It may or may not be true but she has not shown causality.

      The second non sequitur argument was applying the conclusion to totally different industries. The clothing industry is large and successful (true). The clothing industry lacks IP protection (true). Therefore all other industries will succeed without IP protection (non sequitur). She has shown a case where it is true but she has not shown it is universally applicable across industries as different as clothing and software.
      oncall
    • The third

      And most egregious error in her argument was the use of that graph. To put the movie, book and music industries on the same graph as food and clothing. Thus implying that their relative small size is an indicator of a lack of success, is completely misleading and false. These are all successful industries. Their relative size difference marks a difference in how people spend their discretionary income, not how successful the industries are.

      As you said, the software industry is very successful, and has IP. Therefore the entire premise of any argument that IP has lead to a lack of success in the software industry is on shaky ground from go.
      oncall
  • Comparing Apples to Oranges

    I don't believe Johanna Blakeley's chart is that great. I believe the first and third columns are Food and Fashion respectively. Comparing revenues for both these items to revenues for music and books is not really fair, because everyone needs to constantly be fed and clothed with new items, but there is no such necessity for people to be constantly imbued with music and books. In fact, most people don't buy books past high school. There are therefore factors other than IP, which cause Food and Fashion to generate more wealth than music and books.

    As for the software, music, and written works industries; these industries would collapse without IP legal protections, in much the same way our entire economy would collapse without property rights protections in general. We'd still have software, music, and written works; it is just that these industries would generate much less revenue and taxes, employ much less people, enjoy much less innovation, and everything would be cheap. Kind of like the state UNIX is in right now. In fact, there is a very real danger that Android will do to consumer electronics, what Linux did to UNIX: make everything cheap at the cost of innovation, jobs, and a huge tax base to the government. As it is, only Samsung makes significant amounts of money in the Android ecosystem. If telecom subsidies were taken away from Samsung, then the profitability of its smartphones would plummet, and the company's bottom line would be greatly affected. Many of these pundits who cheer on Android don't realize what they are doing. If Android was to take over the consumer electronics, and God forbid, the business computing industries, people would be getting laid off left and right, money would be sucked out of the economy, and they'd be commenting about their favorite smartphones or business systems, about the same as UNIX systems are commented on today.

    As for the music, and periodicals industries, their works have been devalued by the mass availability of similar information, and the rapid innovation taking place in the delivery of these types of information. I believe the solution to the plight of video, music, and written works, is the creation of subscription ecosystems for them. But these subscription ecosystems have to be premium experiences. In fact the major reason subscriptions aren't taking off at YouTube, is because it YouTube trying to survive in an environment where everything is free. That is simply not going to work. You have to create a walled garden / gated community, where everyone wants to get in.

    As far as Johanna Blakeley's comments are concerned, I believe IP laws are mostly right. I don't believe in software patents, but I believe less in the GNU's license and its influence at undermining the ownership and value of software, and I'm willing to put up with the software patents Godzilla, since it keeps the OSS monsters at bay. I believe striking the right balance between IP and consumer rights should always be looked at. On the one hand you want industries to thrive; on the other hand, you do not want this to take place at the expense of consumer / individual liberty.
    P. Douglas
    • Re: would collapse without IP legal protections

      Did you know there was no copyright in Shakespeare's day?

      Or Chaucer's.

      Or in the time of Aristophanes. Or Homer, for that matter.
      ldo17
      • How much wealth was generated back in previous times?

        And just how big were the publishing industries back in those times? Property rights (for physical and intellectual items) are important for the formation of industries which employ large amounts of people, generate significant wealth, and provide large amounts of taxes. Without property rights, you would not be able to buy and sell your car, home, personal items, etc. at a profit. Without property rights, pundits would not be able sell their works and make a living. There would be no movie industry. There would be no music industry. People need to be able to own the things they create, and make money off of them. If property rights were stricken from the U.S., most of the wealth would be driven out of the economy, and the U.S. would become a Third World nation very quickly.

        All the industries that Johanna Blakeley cited on her chart, were able to generate wealth from property rights of one kind or another. The thing is, the more abstract the items you are selling, the greater the need for Intellectual Property (IP) protection, so that the things you produce, can accrue value.

        I believe ideas should never be protected, only their specific expressions. Copyright protection, which does the aforementioned, is what has made the formation and growth of the movie, music, written works, and software industries possible. The fact that the fashion industry doesn't make heavy use of IP, doesn't mean that IP is unnecessary in general, it just means that it is unnecessary to that specific industry. Remember, the fashion industry makes use of other property rights. E.g. you can't go into a store and walk out with the items you like, without paying for them. Why? Because the items are owned by the store, which is able to require you to buy the items, in order to exchange ownership.

        Therefore if you want the best software, research, literary works, music, etc. you need strong IP protections to ensure and preserve the value of these works. These works on their own, cannot rely on other property rights to preserve their value, to same way an automobile or piece of clothing can.
        P. Douglas
        • Re: And just how big were the publishing industries back in those times?

          Is copyright supposed to benefit publishing or content creation?
          ldo17
          • Copyright benefits content creation first, and publishing second

            Given that high quality, new and original works tend to sell the most, and copyright spurs people to produce them for monetary rewards, the publishing industry benefits indirectly from copyright, by allowing the industry to capitalize on these authors' large selling works.
            P. Douglas
          • Re: copyright spurs people to produce them for monetary rewards

            So what was Shakespeare's spur to produce content?
            ldo17
    • Please provide some evidence

      > In fact, there is a very real danger that Android will do to consumer electronics, what Linux did to UNIX: make everything cheap at the cost of innovation, jobs, and a huge tax base to the government.

      Please feel free to cite your source on that. Provide evidence that Linux, in fact, has "make everything cheap at the cost of innovation, jobs, and a huge tax base to the government. "
      walterbyrd@...
    • I'd like to see evidence of this claim.

      "these industries would collapse without IP legal protections, in much the same way our entire economy would collapse without property rights protections in general."

      I'd like to see evidence.

      "In fact the major reason subscriptions aren't taking off at YouTube, is because it YouTube trying to survive in an environment where everything is free. That is simply not going to work."

      Actually, it's working fine - because ultimately Google gets its money from advertising.
      CobraA1
  • This Is Has Been Known For A While

    Boldrin and Levine compiled studies in a whole bunch of industries several years ago, in their book "Against Intellectual Monopoly" (http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm). If you have any doubts that "intellectual property" stifles competitiveness, go read it.
    ldo17