Guest Blog Series: Can You Afford To Be A Copycat?


Phoenix Fashion Week Media Team is excited to continue our new blog series, where we feature talented fashion bloggers and their exceptional work on our blog. We will have a different post on the 1st Friday of every month, by guest bloggers hand picked by our team. If you or someone you know is a fashion blogger and is interested in having work featured on our popular blog, email lauren@phoenixfashionweek.com.

NO!!! It is not alright to scan and copy original artwork, graphics, prints then change it 20% to 30% and claim ownership!

It amazes me how often I hear from people in the industry that they think it is fine to scan original art work, which include graphics and prints, then make certain changes. Some industry experts, instructors and students think that by changing them a certain percent that they can then claim ownership to producing them for resale commercially. They have been ill-informed.

I have just successfully completed another expert witness case that involves these copyright infringement issues. Many cases that I have given my opinion on have been more or less the same scenario. Once the original art work has been created a textile firm, and or designer will register copyrights to this original art work. The copyright piece could have been either created by an individual, or a company with their own designers, or it could have been purchased from a design house who sells their art works, which may include graphics, and surface designs. Then a few months pass only to discover their designs have been “copied” and hanging in a major department store. Often textile firms who make their living from selling their original works have records of the “headers” being borrowed for review by manufacturers then returned as unordered yardage. In years past when working in design rooms I often witnessed this practice. Rather than buy the graphics or prints from the textile firm it is cheaper to “create” and produce their own prints to then print onto fabric or t-shirts.

Role of Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, visual art, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection for apparel products is typically for the artistic expression of the work. Copyright protection generally gives the owner of the copyright the exclusive right to use and to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies, and to prepare derivative works based upon the work.

Important to note: As a rule of thumb. If the print looks like the original copyright art work from approximately 10 feet, then IT USUALLY CAN BE PROVED THAT IT IS A COPY! Another dead giveaway; if you lay one print over the other over a lightbox or up to the light, and there are similarities then it is often obvious that it has been scanned and altered.

Things to compare when looking at copyright issue infringements. Original copyright art work, which include prints and or graphics when compared to the knock-off print, has the same look and feel of the original design arrangement is suspiciously similar, e.g.

  • Size and scale of the prints
  • Execution of art work
  • Novelty of overall layout design
  • Rich coloration of detail
  • Refined artistic aesthetic

WARNING! Don’t DO IT! It could end up costing you your life savings, and or your company! Create your own original artwork or pay to use copyright art work.

Article by Frances Harder, Founder and Executive Director of Fashion Business Inc.

You can learn more about Fashion Business Inc., at www.fashionbizinc.org. Fashion Business Inc. is located in the California Market Center, 110 E 9th Street, Suite C786, Los Angeles Ca. 90079, 213-892-1669. Frances Harder is the author “Fashion For Profit”, as well as several other books on the fashion industry.

We love feedback! Post a comment or question and you could win a FREE copy of Frances Harder’s book, “Brand Building for Profit”!

  1. Yep, It constantly amazes me as well what people will stoop low to do. I have had my artwork copied/stolen several times and it isn’t a pleasant scenario whenever I have found out who the thieves were and had to confront them. They actually feel they are the offended one!! Wow!! Blows my mind!!

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