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Taking a design or symbol or artifact out of context can strip it of meaning and produce real damage to the culture being borrowed from, says Brigitte Vézina, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property and is a fellow at Waterloo's Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Part of the problem is the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the fashion industry, Vézina said in a talk Monday at the centre.

This business has a long-established culture of copying. Fashion also thrives on controversy. And it has recently developed a taste for other people's folk art.

"There's such a high demand in fashion to appear fresh that sometimes...

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