NEW YORK — Diane von Furstenberg, the Fashion Law Institute and Fordham Law School will reveal what they are describing as a groundbreaking initiative on June 22 that was two years in the making. The Fashion Law Institute’s founder and academic director Susan Scafidi said Friday the program is part of her group’s five-year plan, but declined further comment.
More pressing for Scafidi is Monday’s “Fashion Law: Diritti di Domani” in Milan, which will be the institute’s first symposium in Italy. Executives from Prada and Gucci are among the attendees expected at Piper Italy. Having held an event in Hong Kong last year, she said she was encouraged to venture into Europe. “Of course, fashion is an extremely global business,” said Scafidi.
Instead of zeroing in on counterfeiting and trademarks issues, the Milan event will address the changing world of fashion modeling law and the future of fashion law in relation to social media. Far-reaching as each area is, Scafidi said she and her fellow speakers planned to dig deep into the many complexities that are arising. Citing the 2013 law that was passed in Israel requiring that models have a body-mass index of at least 18.5, Scafidi said other countries are beginning to consider such regulations. That law also banned the Photoshopping of models in consumer advertising.
France’s lower house of Parliament recently passed a bill aimed at keeping professional models at a healthy BMI, which, if voted into law, would affect a much more influential region of fashion, she said. In France, models would be required to present medical documents listing their BMI as greater than 18 in order to be hired, and they would have to maintain that weight for a few weeks afterward. In addition, the proposed French legislation would penalize companies and casting directors that hire underweight models with a fine of about $82,000 or six months in prison.
“Models, models’ rights, models’ health and how that relates to public health are some of the issues that companies and brands are giving much more thought to. They are also having to consider photo rights and licensing as to how long they can use photos after they are first published,” Scafidi said. “Social media with the rise of native advertising is presenting all sorts of issues. Social media is becoming not really personal but corporate. It is also a vehicle for commercial expression and there is a tremendous gray area about the use of images that consumers post. If a consumer posts an image of something she loves and a brand re-tweets it and links it to a site to buy it, do they suddenly have to pay the selfie-taker?”
Personal data collection is another matter that varies from country to country, with European companies being “very protective” of online users’ search information, whereas the U.S. is not at all like that, she said. “Personal data and aggregated data are very valuable and salable commodities. Everywhere we go [online] we are shedding valuable data and people are sweeping all of that up, distributing and selling it. European sites are much better about posting pop-ups to warn consumers. Here, we don’t see the warnings or they tend to be buried deep in the text somewhere.”
Data security, privacy and the adequacy of existing consumer protection laws are among the topics Scafidi, Instituto dell’Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria’s Elisabetta Mina and DLA Piper’s Giangiacomo Olivi will tackle in Milan. “We need to start an international conversation,” Scafidi said.