Shanzhai skyscrapers

Kal and I have a new post today up at the Freakonomics blog, this time on an close replica in the Chinese city of Chongqing of a building designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid that’s currently being built in Beijing.

At upper left is a rendering of the Hadid original.

And here’s a picture of the “Hadid” copy.

Both buildings are under construction. At the rate things are going, the Chongqing copy may be done sooner than the Beijing original. The Chinese really have outdone themselves this time.

The question for us is why copying is so ubiquitous in China. In the case of the Hadid building, it can’t be cost. Given that design is an insignificant part of the total cost of a large commercial building, the copyists couldn’t have saved much. So what’s going on?

Who owns a link? Google vs. European publishers . . .

We have a new post up on the Freakonomics blog about the dispute between Google and a group of European newspapers.  The papers want Google to pay them for the links to news articles that show up in Google users’ search results. Which would be a complete upending of the way that the Internet information environment works. Will the newspapers get what they want? It looks surprisingly likely . . .

The Knockoff Economy knockoff photo contest!

To celebrate the release of The Knockoff Economy, let’s have a contest.  Send your photos of crazy knockoff items to  You can see at left an example we heard about a while ago — a Louis Vuitton waffle maker.

Can you find a knockoff that’s nuttier than that?  Send us a pic at The winner will receive a signed copy of The Knockoff Economy, and this great new CD of Fleetwood Mac covers. “Cover songs” is just a technical term for knockoffs in music. The law makes these knockoffs legal, so don’t worry!