The Knockoff Economy: How Copying Benefits Everyone (Video)

Kal Raustiala, co-author of The Knockoff Economy: How Imitation Sparks Innovation, was interviewed by Reason TV.

What do you think of copy-cats? Are they stealing property from the creator? Co-author of the book, The Knockoff Economy, Kal Raustiala, says no.

"A lot of innovation grows out of imitation," Raustiala tells Reason TV's Paul Detrick. "So it's not so much riding on the coattails as it is standing on the shoulders."

Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman write in their book that when you look at the inner workings of football, fashion, food, as well as many other industries: When people have the freedom to knockoff or copy items, creators and consumers benefit.

"Every time a college coach or a pro coach comes up with a new formation, that is going to be copied, if it's successful, by their opposition," says Raustiala.

The Knockoff Economy: How Copying Benefits Everyone


  1. Anyone know a torrent link for the book? :-)

    Seriously, copying is well and good, but it only works well with commodity products. Cars, for instance, take plenty of safety engineering. Who’s going to pay for all of the crash testing and safety engineers if everyone can just 3d print their own copy of the car? I
    certainly don’t want to be part of the crash testing early adopters. There are some things that crowd testing doesn’t do well. 

    1. With cars, people want safety and (in some countries) there are regulations for that. A crash test can’t simply be copied. The real problem is really expensive high risk research done by private companies, like the pharma industry. 

  2. I actually saw him in person giving his speech at the Goethe Institute here in Los Angeles. A quick search showed that there was indeed a torrent for his book, and I got quite a laugh from the audience when I pointed that out to him. However, I did tell him that most likely the torrent was a trojan created by a scraper that goes over the list of books on Amazon and then spits out files with names of books. 

    About a year ago, when writing a book on mobile web design in the “…for Dummies” series, I was shocked to find that the book was appearing on Pirate Bay before I had even written it. Which was tempting, especially since I was having trouble with Chapter 9, and kinda wanted to know how to finish it. Something in me expects the time traveler from the future to poof into existence next to me at this point, and whack me sharply on the noggin with a bumbershoot and order me back to work. 

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