By  on December 28, 2010

WWD may have jumped the gun on Nov. 17, 1930, when it declared the “End May Be Near” for copycat fashions, but the paper had a reason to be optimistic. A few days later, Rep. Albert Henry Vestal (R., Ind.), chairman of the House Committee on Patents, was scheduled to give a speech supporting the copyright registration of designs. “The plagiarism of ideas,” noted WWD, “has reached the point where it threatens to destroy the creative element.”

The hot-button issue was about as dangerous as the bootlegging across the nation — at least according to our reporters. “The art of plagiarism today and the amateurish efforts of a decade or so ago are about in the same relationship that the moonshiner with a small private still in the Kentucky mountains bears to the organized liquor and beer racket of today,” the paper argued. “It was sort of a romantic idea to have the sturdy sons of the Tennessee hills, with a small copper kettle, produce white mule; and a rather entertaining spectacle to watch a manufacturer…take an imported idea and turn it into domestic merchandise. But when bootlegging reached its present stage, the result was an avalanche of protest…and when plagiarism has reached its present stage, it is certainly time that drastic, vigorous, and intelligent action were taken.”

Prohibition is of course long gone, but nearly a century later, the plagiarism protests continue.

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