Canada is planning to take the EU’s link tax as a model for one of its own new and bad copyright laws

One chapter of my Walled Culture book (free download available in various formats) looks at how the bad ideas embodied in the EU’s appalling Copyright Directive – the worst copyright law so far – are being taken up elsewhere. One I didn’t include, because its story is still unfolding, is Canada’s Bill C-18: “An Act …

The Czech Republic’s proposed version of upload filters has a bad idea that could become a great one

A clear demonstration that the EU Copyright Directive is a badly-drafted law is the fact that it has still not been implemented in national legislation by all the EU Member States three years after it was passed, and over a year after the nominal deadline for doing so. That’s largely because of the upload filters …

The copyright world is already panicking about music created using generative AI; too late

A couple of weeks ago, Walled Culture wrote about the rapid rise and advance of generative AI in the world of visual arts. One key aspect was its impact on copyright, which emerges as making even less sense in a world where AI programs can knock out an infinite number of images on any topic …

Why the “true fans” model is great not only for creators, but for entrepreneurs too

The “true fans” idea has appeared in many posts on this blog, and also makes an appearance in the last chapter of Walled Culture the book, as a viable alternative to copyright and its manifest ills. Kevin Kelly first articulated the true fans idea in 2008, and it was surprisingly soon after that companies started …

No good deed goes unpunished in a world where the rules have been set by academic publishers

One of the heroes of my new book Walled Culture is Paul Ginsparg. In 1991, Ginsparg set up an automated email server while he was a staff member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. As preprints – early versions of academic papers – were uploaded, the server would send out alerts to subscribers, who could …

A concept that should not exist at all is already implemented: the “paying” public domain

A couple of weeks ago, Walled Culture reported on a terrible idea in France: requiring companies to pay for the use of public domain material. As the post explained, this is a subversion of what it means for something to enter the public domain, and a betrayal of the implicit bargain of copyright. Fortunately, the …

Why generative AI will take over the world of art, and will render copyright irrelevant

Observant readers of this blog may have noticed that the images used to illustrate the posts have changed recently. Previously, I have drawn on photos that were either in the public domain, or released under a minimal Creative Commons licence such as CC-BY 4.0. For reasons best known to itself, Google Image search has gone …

How music platform Corite is turning true fans into digital street teams

The last chapter of Walled Culture – the book looks at how the many problems of copyright might be mitigated. It concludes with Kevin Kelly’s idea of “1000 true fans“, which has been discussed on this blog previously. One of the most interesting aspects of the true fans idea is that it doesn’t depend on …

How copyright absurdity rules over J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Rings of Power”

J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” is one of the best-known and best-loved modern works of literature, not least thanks to Peter Jackson’s films based on the cycle. Given that popularity, it’s no surprise that there was interest in creating adaptations of other Tolkien works. The result is “The Lord of the Rings: …

Coming soon: the next phase of copyright maximalism – destroying the public domain

The public domain is the natural state of creative material. It’s where creations end up once copyright’s monopoly has expired. Crucially, it is the quid pro quo for that monopoly. The deal is that the creator of a work is granted a government-enforced intellectual monopoly for a limited period, after which the work enters the …

Ed Sheeran must face yet another music copyright trial, even more outrageous than the others

Back in April, Walled Culture wrote about Ed Sheeran’s victory in a case alleging copyright infringement. Unfortunately, the copyright world’s obsession with ownership means that Sheeran can’t simply relax now. In fact, he has already been hit with another lawsuit. What makes this case worse is that it is alleged he copied his hit song …

Walled Culture, the book, now freely available: what that means, and how you can help

Today is an important day for this blog: Walled Culture – the book – has launched. You can download free copies now in a variety of digital formats. Or, if you prefer, you can order it in a traditional book form from your favourite online bookseller, but I’m afraid that requires a (smallish) payment to …

Open access is taking over, but academic institutions are paying as much money as ever: what happened?

The good news is that open access publishing, which allows anyone to read academic papers without needing a subscription, is taking over. The bad news is that academic publishers have managed to subvert it, so the victory is proving hollow. That’s confirmed by a new preprint from an international group of researchers: Since the early …

Best-selling organic chemistry textbook to be freely available, supported by enlightened patronage

It’s well known that textbook prices are generally high. That’s in part because academic publishers effectively have a monopoly when it comes to standard texts. Very often, there are texts that students simply must have as part of their course, which means they will pay even exorbitant prices. One such book was John McMurry’s Organic …

Ireland shows how to take the true fans idea to the next level, with a bold new arts funding programme

One of the recurring themes on this blog is the idea of true fans: hard-core supporters of an artist who are willing to send money directly to creators whose work they love. The original idea was expressed most cogently by Kevin Kelly back in 2008: You need to meet two criteria. First, you have to …

Imagine a world where amazing fanfic was the norm, not the exception: only copyright stands in the way

On the Pocket site, there’s a fascinating story about fanfic – fan fiction – which Wikipedia defines as “fictional writing written in an amateur capacity by fans, unauthorized by [the original work’s creator or publisher], but based on an existing work of fiction. The author uses copyrighted characters, settings, or other intellectual properties from the …