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Sew Not Her Designs
The woman knocking off Chanel and others responds to my email criticizing her. Check out all the photos on her site that appear to be from the very people she's knocking off -- runway shows, catalogs. Surely, all of those were used with explicit permission and compensation to the companies, models, and photographers!

Greetings Amy,

I am the owner of Sew Beautiful By Natasha and Jane LLC. Dresses can not be trademarked, patented or copyrighted. I am within full legal rights for what we do. ABS (Alan B Schwartz) has done it for years. Our customers say our quality is better than CHANEL. See testimonials from clients from eBay on our site at Is it moral for Chanel to charge $12,000 for a suit that costs them $400? I think it is moral to offer women affordable couture clothing as we do. In addition, Chanel has no problem with selling us their fabrics.

All the major yarn manufacturers are using the Martha Stewart name in their patterns for ponchos as well as many home crocheters selling them on eBay. Are you writing to all of them to complain? I am the ONLY one giving Ms Hernandez any money. (% is gross profits). I have contacted Martha Stewart about how we are using her name. She has no problem with our doing this.

Most of our profits go into our non-profit Medication Compliance Research Inc at to help save the lives of over 125,000 people who die each year as a result of not taking their medication properly.

Best Regards, Jane Langdon

I love when people sign stuff at the end of their letter that they clearly don't mean. Not a surprise here that this woman is sending me her "best regards." I got an even bigger laugh from the guy who wrote me a full page of nasty, low blows, then signed, "Respectfully." "Respectfully"? Where? Anyway, here's my response to this woman's letter. Note that I don't call her a lady:

I'm not a copyright lawyer, but there's much you're doing that's illegal, especially use of all those photos you surely didn't pay for. Even if it is legal to do something, it certainly isn't moral. And people can charge whatever they wish for their work; it is their work, the fruits of their labor. Your rationalization of it is absolutely disgusting. I especially love your argument that your customers like it. I'm sure the guy who gets a stolen TV really cheaply from a fence is thrilled as well. DOES Chanel really know what you're doing? I doubt it. Let's see the letter from them about how THRILLED they are you're knocking off their goods, under their name, on your site.

Did you take all those photos down? Perhaps I'm making an outrageous assumption, but from the photographic evidence I see on your blog -- pictures of movie stars without credit to the photographers and pictures from runway shows and apparently, catalogs paid for by the very people whose work you're profiting seems quite likely to me that you're a thief...and many times over. You don't say you paid for those photos. Did you? Clearly, you are utterly unconcerned with much but making a profit. ("Most" go to to that foundation? Really? What percentage would you call "most"? Gross or net?) How much of it you give to charity still doesn't justify what you're doing. Would you let a heroin kingpin work your streets if he gave some of the profits to the local soup kitchen? -Amy Alkon

PS Let's see the letter from Martha Stewart giving you the go-ahead to use her name. I'm loath to believe anything you say since you have no compunction putting up all those photos without credits showing you paid the rightful owners for their use. Come on, justify that.

Posted by aalkon at March 26, 2005 7:18 AM

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You are correct that it's illegal to use copyrighted photos without permission. Using someone else's name to sell something also violates trademark laws.

Selling a copy of a dress design, however, is not a violation of copyright, patent, or copyright laws. Langdon is right about that - check and you'll see. The same applies to things like recipies. You can't copyright them, either.

You may not think it is ethical for someone to copy an $8,000 dress design and sell it for $400, but there's no law against it - and for good reason, too. If clothing designs could be copyrighted or patented, designers would spend all their time suing each other over perceived infringements because of every little apparent similarity.

Because there are no legal protections for designs, creators have to focus on creating - and always creating new things. They know that anything they come up with this year that is popular will be incorporated into a thousand different things next year and they won't make anything from it - they only make money from something *new*.

They also have to live with identical knock-offs, but that's why the protect their name so jealously: when people pay $8,000 for a dress, they are paying as much for the name as the design. They gain more than they lose in the long run.

I don't have any connection with this company, dress design, or anything related. I'm just a writer who is familiar with the laws in these things.

Posted by: Joe at March 26, 2005 8:15 AM

Joe, that's not WHY it's not illegal.

Because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2005 9:18 AM

I recently met a journalist who found me when he stumbled across a Samizdata post where I had quoted one of his articles (ego-Googling leads to some good connections!). He had no idea about blogs, so I had him come over and I showed him the blogosphere thing and his mind was blown. He went to the editor of the magazine and said, "Do you realise we're getting the publicity of being quoted and linked to from a website that gets 12,000 unique visitors a day?" The editor replied, "Quoted? Great, we can get them for royalties."

That mindset is bafflingly pre-Stone Age to me. In the age of Creative Commons - which even Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti back - we should have moved beyond this idea that chasing a bunch of dollars every second is the best way to get a bunch of dollars (to paraphrase the clever Miss Alkon!).

The problem with traditional copyright is that it's all or nothing - you either have to defend to the hilt what you have, even if you want others to be able to build upon it creatively and give you the benefits of that, or not bother trying to get any attribution ever. The truth is that many arists and writers (including photographers, designers, musicians, and chefs) want to help other artists and authors to build upon their creativity, without having to pay a lawyer his huge fees in order to do so.( Art has, to some degree, always been about building upon the work of others. Van Gogh and Gaugin even copied each other's brushwork.) People are releasing entire albums under Creative Commons because allowing people to remix, parody, and otherwise build upon their work is good for business. Hoarding value may seem to be the way to go, but there are many who disagree.

As for this woman, the only foot she has put wrong is if she's using copyrighted images to which she has not bought the copyright. (There are online photo clearinghouses, like Getty's, where you can purchase the rights to one or entire collections of images, and attribution when you use them is not necessary.) But to be "absolutely disgusted" by someone doing what has been done for centuries and which is actually beneficial to the brands in question is rather surprising to me. How do you think Chanel gets to be one of those labels that people aspire to own? Not only through ads and publicity shots, but through people for decades lusting after Chanel-style suits and buying knock-off designs. Chanel knows that a woman who can afford a $40,000 dress isn't going to consider a $40 one from a website to be a reasonable facsimile. (Indeed, I believe the woman's story about Chanel's cooperation: My boyfriend's mother used to sew for French couture houses in the 50s and 60s and reports much the same.)

That said, one of the countries that is the most backward on this is France. Restaurants and patisseries are extremely paranoid about people copying the way they sandwich their cream between wafers and the way they swirl raspberry coulis around a plate. It is utterly ridiculous.

Sorry to go on at such length, Amy, but the idea of flourishing creativity benefitting everyone is one of the bedrocks of my belief system. I'm not saying that property rights aren't sacred - they are! - but intellectual property is a distinct issue and one need not be a commie to see that IP laws are damaging to society and to creators. (Indeed, a friend of mine who is the head of a libertarian think-tank - the Institute Molinari in Brussels - did her doctoral thesis on this very subject.)

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at March 26, 2005 10:56 AM

PS I'm not saying that people should not have the option to copyright everything they can under the law. I'm saying that there is a better way, and advances in technology mean that millions of creators are opting for that better way. This is a good thing.

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at March 26, 2005 10:59 AM

"Joe, that's not WHY it's not illegal."

I made no statements about the reasons behind the court and legislative decisions not to make knock-offs illegal. I made statements about some of the negative consequences that would exist if dress designs could be copyrighted like music or essays are - reasons which, if you notice, are echoed in the essay you link to. I apologize if it wasn't clear that I was trying to explain why a lack of such legal protections to clothing designs probably does more good than harm.

The original accusation was that this company is doing something illegal. In the case of using copyrighted images, that is true. In the case of using others' names to sell items, that is true. In the case of copying dress designs, it's not.

"Because something is legal doesn't mean it's right."

Yeah, well, that might be why I specifically raised the fact that you might not consider it ethical. Whether you consider it ethical was not, obviously, the point of my post - the law was. On the matter of the law, what I wrote is accurate.

But since were on the question of ethics, is it unethical to paint copy a Picasso and sell it - not as an original, but labeled as a copy? That's copying, too. People who own the original works aren't getting anything from it. Picasso's family isn't getting anything from it. Unethical?

Frankly, I don't see that it is. Even if Picasso were alive, I'd treat such a position as dubious. Yet, if anyone deserved more ethical consideration, surely it would be the lone artist in a studio rather than an international design company like Chanel.

Posted by: Joe at March 26, 2005 11:13 AM

Hi –

I don't see anyone talking about the Berne Convention, just about "copyright"… which is but one aspect of "intellectual property".

This "Jane Langdon" person will be prosecuted if she sells in France, period. She risks fines and imprisonment (and she's not French, but foreign, so the French won't hesitate an instant to prosecute. Look what happened to George Soros this week, for pity's sake ! Note, too, that there is preventive detention in France. Even for French politicians. I shudder to think what the French justice system would do to a person selling Chanel knockoffs, being proud of it and saying that "copyright" doesn't apply. Dear Jane Langdon: There is no bail here. There is no guarantee for a speedy trial. US prisons are paragons of modernity and cleanliness, compared to French prisons. )

Back to basics: it's not a question of "copyright" but of French law, which is "in accordance with the Berne Convention" , which protects "works of the mind". (The USA is apparently a signatory to the Berne Convention, too, so it applies. It's a big, big world out there outside of US copyright law. If Chanel wants to sue her in the USA, it will, no doubt about that. It won't invoke "copyright law", it will invoke the "Berne Convention", the international treaty. I have no idea what the outcome would be – perhaps one of the attorneys here knows something about this ? However, given the current political climate in the USA and the anti-French virulence, I really don't think we'll see Chanel in court this week, anyway. (smile)

Anyway, specifically, for France:

Law No. 92-597 of July 1, 1992, on the Intellectual Property Code (Legislative Part)*

(as last amended by Law No. 97-283 of March 27, 1997)


Intellectual Property Code (Legislative Part)


Chapter II

Protected Works

Art. L. 112-1. The provisions of this Code shall protect the rights of authors in all works of the mind, whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or purpose.

Art. L. 112-2. The following, in particular, shall be considered works of the mind within the meaning of this Code:


14. creations of the seasonal industries of dress and articles of fashion. Industries which, by reason of the demands of fashion, frequently renew the form of their products, particularly the making of dresses, furs, underwear, embroidery, fashion, shoes, gloves, leather goods, the manufacture of fabrics of striking novelty or of special use in high fashion dressmaking, the products of manufacturers of articles of fashion and of footwear and the manufacture of fabrics for upholstery shall be deemed to be seasonal industries.


Someone here said:

>>Selling a copy of a dress design, however,

>>is not a violation of copyright, patent, or copyright

>>laws. Langdon is right about that - check and

>>you'll see. The same applies to things like

>> recipies. You can't copyright them, either.

Dunno about "copyright", but "recipes" are certainly among the licensing agreements regulated by treaty, viz:

EU028EN Other (Know-how Licensing Agreements), Commission Regulation, 30/11/1988, No. 556/89
Commission Regulation (EEC) No 556/89 of 30 November 1988 on the application of Article 85 (3) of the Treaty to certain categories of know-how licensing agreements

(1) Regulation No 19/65/EEC empowers the Commission to apply Article 85 (3) of the Treaty by Regulation to certain categories of bilateral agreements and concerted practices falling within the scope of Article 85 (1) which include restrictions imposed in relation to the acquisition or use of industrial property rights, in particular patents, utility models, designs or trade marks, or to the rights arising out of contracts for assignment of, or the right to use, a method of manufacture or knowledge relating to the use or application of industrial processes. The increasing economic importance of non-patented technical information (e. g. descriptions of manufacturing processes, recipes, formulae, designs or drawings), commonly termed 'know-how', the large number of agreements currently being concluded by undertakings including public research facilities solely for the exploitation of such information (so-called 'pure' know-how licensing agreements) and the fact that the transfer of know-how is, in practice, frequently irreversible make it necessary to provide greater legal certainty with regard to the status of such agreements under the competition rules, thus encouraging the dissemination of technical knowledge in the Community. In the light of experience acquired so far, it is possible to define a category of such know-how licensing agreements covering all or part of the common market which are capable of falling within the scope of Article 85 (1) but which can normally be regarded as satisfying the conditions laid down in Article 85 (3), where the licensed know-how is secret, substantial and identified in any appropriate form ('the know-how'). These definitional requirements are only intended to ensure that the communication of the know-how provides a valid justification for the application of the present Regulation and in particular for the exemption of obligations which are restrictive of competition. A list of definitions for the purposes of this Regulation is set out in Article 1.


Someone else here said:

>>That said, one of the countries that is the

>>most backward on this is France. Restaurants

>>and patisseries are extremely paranoid about

>>people copying the way they sandwich their

>>cream between wafers and the way they

>>swirl raspberry coulis around a plate. It is

>>utterly ridiculous.

Well, no, sorry: a recipe is a "work of the mind" and thus can be (and is) protected by law. The fact that you think it is "ridiculous" doesn't change that. When in Rome, and so forth, eh ? France and the UK are among the leaders on IP, worldwide. The USA is apparently down at the bottom of the league table, somewhere.

Why the heck do you think that the USA (not individual Americans: the country) is hated more and more around the world ? It's not just "Iraq" or "Israel at the expense of Palestine" or "capital punsihment" or "religious intolerance" or "MacDonald's unhealthy food" or "Genetically Modified Organisms" or whatever the let's bash-America-flavor-of-the-week is: it's a whole slew of things, many of which never make it onto the individual American's radar.

One of them is, alas, US relutance to respect international treaties it has signed, among them the Berne Convention.

Microsoft bitches about software piracy and expects the EU to do something about it, but then the US turns around and allows Chanel "knockoffs". Just why is the EU going after Microsoft ?! Could there be a connection ?! (smile)


Posted by: L'Amerloque at March 26, 2005 12:47 PM

Amy... The following statements you made about me and our company on your Blog are slanderous and they are false. You have no basis for making these remarks.

"I especially love your argument that your customers like it. I'm sure the guy who gets a stolen TV really cheaply from a fence is thrilled as well.

"DOES Chanel really know what you're doing? I doubt it."

"I'm loath to believe anything you say"

"...there's much you're doing that's illegal"

"Your rationalization of it is absolutely disgusting"

"Clearly, you are utterly unconcerned with much but making a profit."

Jane Langdon, Owner Sew Beautiful by Natasha and Jane

Posted by: Jane Langdon at March 26, 2005 12:52 PM

Slanderous remarks, first of all, are spoken, not written. Second, I'm a professional writer, and I am very careful about my speech, as I know the laws -- which protect my right to give my opinion in a public forum. Note that most of the above is simply my opinion and is clearly stated as such.

Regarding "there's much that you're doing that's illegal" -- this is explained, and I'll explain it again:

I see countless photos on your site of Hollywood stars, taken at runway shows, and ostensibly from catalogs. I see no credit or copyright notices (that you were granted rights to use them). This suggests they were not licensed, paid for, or permitted in some way by the creators and photographers. Am I wrong? Did you get permission for every one of those photos, pay Halle Berry, pay Kate Winslet, pay Reese Witherspoon, and the photographers, and license them for use, and simply forget to include the copyrights (as typically contractually mandated, in my understanding, which is why you see photo credits, ie, so-and so at Sygma in those little cutlines in magazines).

Well, DID YOU?

If you simply neglected to note the copyrights at the bottom, but paid Halle and all the rest for the use of their images to sell your products, well my sincere apologies. What is the going rate on Halle doing advertising for a product these days...a million, a million-five? You must be one successful lady!

In my opinion, you're doing something that is ethically wrong. I am entitled, as long as we still have a First Amendment, to state that opinion. We do still have a First Amendment, don't we? (I've been out all day -- you can't be too sure of these things these days!)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2005 3:40 PM

This is quite tiresome, but I forgot this bit, to correct you on your assertion that I've made false statements:

My opinion is opinion, and thus can neither be true nor false, but is simply what I think.

Which facts, pray tell, did I get wrong about the photos? If I was incorrect, I am eager to print the truth.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2005 3:43 PM

As I said before everything on my site is legal and paid for. No ones rights have been violated. Chanel fabrics are real Chanel fabrics and I have permission to use them, etc.

The going rate for permission to use copyrighted photos varies from very expensive if they are from Getty to nothing at all. (You just get the permission in writing.)

Your opinion is not backed up by ANY proof. But I understand it is ONLY your OPINION. However, I think it would be wise for anyone with an opinion to have some sort of proof.

I am doing very, very well. Below is a recent Press Release on our companies. We are taking them public soon.

I am sorry we have had such a negative correspondance about my site. I am really a good person who wanted to help people who had trouble taking their medications. My sister-in-law has Parkinson's. It all started with our PILL PROOF kit and just expanded from there. I am disabled and was unable to work for 10 years from a back injury. My doctor said I should start an internet business so I would be able to work around my injury. I never thought I would have so many businesses. I am truely blessed and mean no bad will towards you. When I said Best Regards, I meant it. Buy the way...your column is very funny. I enjoyed it. I lived in New York city for many years and miss the quick banter and colorful people.



Posted by: Jane Langdon at March 26, 2005 4:12 PM

Jane, advertise on your own site, not on mine. Thanks for the nice words about my column.

Because images are expensive does not justify use without payment. I'm not sure you're suggesting it you?

Again, I find it hard to believe that you got permission from designers whose work you are, it seems, knocking off?... (That's why you show the photos from runway shows, right) promote your knockoffs. You still don't say that you have the rights to the photos you use, and the right to use the stars and models pictured in them (paid rights, contractually permitted rights). HAVE YOU GOTTEN THOSE RIGHTS? If so, what did you do to convince Halle Berry to advertise your stuff, and how much did she charge you? A mill, a million five? More?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2005 4:37 PM

I did not get permission from the dress designers. I do not need permissiom from them since dress designs can not be copyrighted, trademarked or patented. I did get permission to use the copyrighted photographs from the photographers directly or their agents. As I keep saying, EVERYTHING on my site is legal.

Now is everything clear?

Posted by: Jane Langdon at March 26, 2005 4:52 PM

YIKES...I am tired! Amy, I always enjoy a good banter and you certainly ask a lot of questions. Enquiring minds want to know. I think I have answered all your questions. I pay my lawyer a nice retainer to keep everything legal. He has business clients from all over the world and I trust his advice.

If you celebrate Easter...Enjoy!

Posted by: Jane Langdon at March 26, 2005 6:29 PM

You cannot use news photos to advertise your product. Otherwise, what would stop Jennie Craig from putting Oprah on a billboard? Furthermore, even if you and your lawyer are utter ignoramuses about this and related issues (which would be very convenient), it seems to me a sense of fair play (which you, as a knockoff artist, profiting from the work of others, do not show) would keep one from using Carmela Sutera's runway show photos from advertising her dresses.

I am disgusted by your "ethics." Feel lucky that I don't know who those models are and thus cannot notify their agents.

The photos sold as stock from runway shows are to be used by news outlets. I'm sure that's quite clear in a contract you have with them -- if you even have a contract and those photos aren't just lifted off the net. And how about those photos that clearly look like they're from catalogs. What catalog is going to let you have rights to a photo they've paid for so you can knock off what they're selling.

Your business practices make me retch, and your disrespect for others' creative work and intellectual property is creepy. Regarding your own copyright-noticed pages on the net -- how would you feel if I just lifted them and started knocking off your knockoffs?

How do you sleep at night?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2005 8:30 AM

On a lighter note...

AMY! Yesterday at a restaurant in Pasadena I saw an attractive middle-aged woman looking WAY sexy in a.... PONCHO! I immediately thought, "gotta tell Amy!" Anyway, it looks like the trick is to make it with something like merino wool. The poncho material was really thin, so it clung to the lady's lovely boobs.

Posted by: Lena-doodle-doo at March 27, 2005 9:42 AM

Hi Lena -

What goes around, comes around. Weren't we talking about colorful ponchos the other day ? (smile)


Posted by: L'Amerloque at March 27, 2005 10:05 AM

Hi –

The battle against "knockoffs" and "replicas" is heating up.

February 2, 2005

…/… I stood at noon in the corner of a twinkling function room on the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This was the Luxury Goods Summit of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, sponsored by Harper's Bazaar magazine.

And they certainly got a turnout of serious-looking folks. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was there. So was Juan Carlos Zarate, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the U.S. Treasury Department. And assorted executives and lawyers from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and other fully priced fashion-accessory firms, all of whom looked like they could probably afford to wear the real stuff.

In one corner of the room were two tables laid out with dozens of bootleg items and many red-and-white signs that said "FAKE."

"Dolce & Gabbana" sunglasses. A "Fendi" key ring and letter opener. Handbags from "Chanel," "Christian Dior," "Kate Spade," "Dooney & Bourke."

You have to put all those brand names in quotes, of course, although without the little signs I'm not sure I could really tell the legit from the fake.

But Brian Verwoert can.

An NYPD lieutenant who commands the unit responsible for busting bootlegs, he said he never had trouble telling a fake on the street. "It's the price and where it's being sold," Verwoert said. "Most of these items, they cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars in the stores. And you can't sell except in an authorized store. If it's a Louis Vuitton bag and it's being sold at a flea market or on Canal Street for $40 - come on!"

And what exactly was the dapper-looking anti-counterfeiting lieutenant wearing beneath that snappy suit of his? "An authentic Jerry Garcia tie," he said proudly. "It was a present. Mainly, I shop at Marshall's and discount places like that."

All those in attendance yesterday seemed to agree that product counterfeiting - designer accessories, NYPD caps, CDs, DVDs, whatever - has all kinds of bad social consequences.

Joseph Gioconda, an attorney whose clients include Playboy and Hermes, ticked off three: Rips off companies who've created these desirable products. Drains tax revenue from local governments. Exploits vulnerable labor in the United States and overseas. …/…



Posted by: L'Amerloque at March 27, 2005 10:42 AM

Hi, L'Amerloque --

Even the poncho can be redeemed. It's Easter, after all.


Posted by: Lena at March 27, 2005 10:29 PM

Amy, I'm shocked at your harshness. I thought you had to be nice to disabled people in California. Or is that only if the disabled person lives in California? If not, you're in the clear. Lawyers?

Posted by: Chris Wilson at March 27, 2005 10:56 PM

BTW - I bought my wife a very thin, Merino wool poncho for Christmas this year. Knock off or not (I'm noweher near sophisticated enough to tell), it was a big hit.

Posted by: Chris Wilson at March 27, 2005 10:57 PM

Hi –

Talking about ponchos reminds me of one of the biggest recent public gaffes ever committed by a US president.

"Thanks for the poncho."

President Clinton said this when he was presented with the Romanian tri-color flag during his visit in July. The flag did have a head-sized hole in the middle ... But flags with the centers ripped out are the norm in Romania these days. With holes where the hated communist emblem used to be, such flags symbolize the 1989 anti-Communist revolt that led to the establishment of democracy.
Associated Press 8/27/97

There's a clip of Clinton unfolding the offered "poncho" and sticking his head through the hole. It plays widely on European TV when US/EU relations are tense, as "proof" of US "ignorance" about the rest of the world. (sigh)


Posted by: L'Amerloque at March 28, 2005 6:42 AM

I don't see the reason for the fuss. The rag trade is full of knockoffs and you can buy Chanel buttons and fabric at any number of fabric outlets--with Chanel's full permission. If Jane is putting a Chanel label in the jacket, then she's in trouble. But the late Orbachs was for years, the home of the "line for line copy". They hired sketch artists to go to the Paris collections, sit and watch, and then dash back to their rooms and draw the designs. Jane's work isn't much different. I doubt Karl L is losing sleep over this.

Halle et al. don't need to be paid as they were at public appearance--if the photog was paid or gave permission, that's all they need. Maybe Jne should just photoshop someone else's head.

IS this different than hip-hop artists and DJs sampling or remixing other songs? They used to just steal and I'm sure some still do.

Posted by: KateCoe at March 29, 2005 8:50 AM

Actually, Kate, you cannot use somebody else's image in advertising without their permission. See The Lanham Act for more information on that. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman sued Sephora for that for over a million dollars.

Moreover, somebody from Carmela Sutera's company emailed to thank me for what I wrote, and they told me they're having their lawyer send a letter to have that photo on Langdon's bridal page...a direct copy of one of the photos on Sutera's site from the current collection!...taken down. Because the rag trade is full of knockoffs does not make it right to profit from the fruits of somebody else's labors. Moreover, law enforcement is increasingly going after the counterfeiters they can -- like those knocking off purses down to the Kate Spade or whomever labels.

Because I value my intellectual property, I will not buy those $20 Santee Alley purses. My entire French group goes together to get them. Either I'm for copyright protection or I'm not. How can I demand that others pay for my work if I condone theft from other creators? It's one thing to be inspired by the collar on somebody's jacket -- it's another thing entirely to knock off the jacket in its entirety.

There seems to be this "oh, so what?" based on how rich a designer is...would you replace Karl Lagerfeld with Carmela Sutera and still feel comfortable with that remark above? Creating is creating, no matter how moneyed the creator. Nobody is entitled to rip off Madonna's music just because she's rich. They might say they are, but they aren't. She owns her creative output, and I don't care if she charges 10 million for a CD; that's her prerogative, and it in NO WAY entitles anyone to steal from her.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 29, 2005 3:38 PM

Well, then you'd approve Mattel going after the guy who made the Life and Death of Karen Carpenter, using Barbie. Or peope lwho use Mickey Mouse in unorthodox ways.

I'd say that Jane's use of the celeb photos as "advertising" is a tough call. She's not selling her work as Karl's--she says it's a copy. Tom Ford copied YSL as well as the work of un-named designers whose work languished in the Gucci archives--should we tar and feather him?

Posted by: KateCoe at March 29, 2005 7:33 PM

Oddly, I find I'm pretty versed in the law. Parody is permitted. It's a new work, an editorial comment on the orginal...and thus I would say it's not only permitted by the First Amendment, but encouraged. I'm all for parody and any other kind of speech that isn't merely a knockoff of somebody else's creative work in an attempt to profit from their sweat and labor.

Read the Lanham Act. Why should any person have the right to use any other person's image without payment to sell their product. (And they don't have that right.) Why can't she just put nude photos of Paris Hilton up on her page to sell her stuff? Or nude photos of you that some photographer across the street took through your bedroom window?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 29, 2005 10:08 PM

"I'd say that Jane's use of the celeb photos as "advertising" is a tough call. She's not selling her work as Karl's--she says it's a copy."

The knock-off or "passing off" issue is irrelevant to the commercial use of the celeb image issue. This illustrates why "issue spotting" is one of the main criteria used to grade law school tests - because it doesn't help to know the law if you use it to analyze the wrong issue!

Posted by: Melissa at April 1, 2005 4:11 PM

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