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Why this Gucci knockoff is totally legal

Fashion is art. But you can’t protect it the same way.

Cleo Abram/Vox

Knockoffs are everywhere in fashion. So is the controversy they inspire. Allbirds says Steve Madden copied its sneakers. Gucci says Forever 21 ripped off its green-red-green stripes. Adidas says Zara knocked off its Yeezy designs.

Per the Constitution, Congress has the power to stop copying by giving authors and inventors “the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

But there’s a catch: These protections must “promote the progress” of creative industries.

Conventional wisdom holds that copying kills innovation and hurts industry progress. It’s an assumption at the core of all intellectual property law in the United States. But within the fashion industry, experts — like law professor Christopher Sprigman — say the ease of copying is actually good for creativity.

Watch this video to learn how knockoffs can help the fashion industry and how experts evaluate which kinds of intellectual property deserve protection.

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