The Knockoff Economy approaches the question of incentives and innovation in a wholly new way–by exploring creative fields where copying is generally legal, such as fashion, food, and even professional football. By uncovering these important but rarely studied industries, Raustiala and Sprigman reveal a nuanced and fascinating relationship between imitation and innovation. In some creative fields, copying is kept in check through informal industry norms enforced by private sanctions. In others, the freedom to copy actually promotes creativity. High fashion gave rise to the very term “knockoff,” yet the freedom to imitate great designs only makes the fashion cycle run faster–and forces the fashion industry to be even more creative.
Raustiala and Sprigman carry their analysis from food to font design to football plays to finance, examining how and why each of these vibrant industries remains innovative even when imitation is common. There is an important thread that ties all these instances together–successful creative industries can evolve to the point where they become inoculated against–and even profit from–a world of free and easy copying. And there are important lessons here for copyright-focused industries, like music and film, that have struggled as digital technologies have made copying increasingly widespread and difficult to stop.
Looks like an interesting book.