Upload filters: unjustified blocks, unfair appeals process, and a system rigged in favour of Big Content

The EU Copyright Directive contains one of the worst ideas in modern copyright: what amounts to a requirement to filter uploads on major sites.  Despite repeated explanations of why this would cause huge harm to both creators and members of the public, EU politicians were taken in by the soothing words of the legislation’s proponents, …

Twitch mutes top videogame streamer because of claim he used someone’s copyright siren sound effect

Alongside death and taxes, one of life’s great certainties is a constant flow of absurd copyright claims. Here’s one from the world of live videogame streaming on the popular Twitch platform, owned by Amazon.  A group of Spanish-speaking streamers organised a gaming event featuring “Project Zomboid“, a zombie survival role-playing game. TorrentFreak explains how copyright …

Educational publisher Pearson finds a way to make NFTs even worse

Back in April, Walled Culture noted that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) offer very little benefit for creators, despite the grand claims made for them.  Since then, the once trendy sector is collapsing, with both NFTs and cryptocurrencies revealing themselves to be little more than scams and pyramid schemes.  But just when you might have hoped that …

Why Meta’s project to translate automatically between 200 languages will be stymied by copyright

Meta’s AI division has announced two exciting new projects in the field of machine translation: The first is No Language Left Behind, where we are building a new advanced AI model that can learn from languages with fewer examples to train from, and we will use it to enable expert-quality translations in hundreds of languages, …

PlayStation reminds people that digital ownership is vanishing, by removing films they had bought

Last month, we wrote about the imminent death of digital ownership. In case some people didn’t get the message, Sony’s PlayStation division has just made it crystal clear (translation by DeepL) with the imminent removal of 314 titles in Germany and 137 in Austria from the distributor StudioCanal: As of 31 August 2022, due to …

Facebook is so sure its erroneous blocking of music is right, there’s no option to say it’s wrong

It’s hardly a secret that upload filters don’t work well. Back in 2017, Felix Reda, then Shadow Rapporteur on the EU Copyright Directive in the European Parliament, put together a representative sample of the many different ways in which filters fail. A recent series of tweets by Markus Pössel, Senior Outreach Scientist at the Max …

Why the true fans model is coming into its own now, and how to ensure its sustainability

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are big supporters of the true fans idea – that artists can thrive by building stronger connections with a core of faithful fans who will support their favourite creators well beyond the level of simply paying them occasionally for their material. Perhaps the earliest and best …

The mighty Elsevier academic octopus adds another tentacle

Last year, Walled Culture noted that the academic publisher Elsevier enjoys an astonishing profit margin of 30-40%. Those profits, built on the free labour of academics writing about research that has been largely paid for with public money, has allowed Elsevier to go on a spending spree, buying up companies that complement and extend its …

How copyright’s ownership obsession has turned magazine contracts into intellectual extractivism

The indispensable Cory Doctorow, who was the first person to speak with Walled Culture as part of its interview series, has yet another great post that encapsulates a particular aspect of copyright madness: the obsession with ownership. Drawing on his own long experience in writing for magazines, he explains: There was the time that a …

Running up that hill: Kate Bush shows the best way to make lots of money in pop music

Anyone who watches the Netflix sci-fi drama “Stranger Things” probably also knows about Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)“, originally released in 1985. It was always a great song, but now it’s a massively popular great song thanks to the series, as Music Business Worldwide explains: Last week, Running Up …

Top Harvard lawyers don’t think making and sharing unauthorised digital copies is theft

TorrentFreak has a report about a piece of research – sadly behind a paywall – by Malgorzata Ciesielska and Dariusz Jemielniak, that looks at copyright from an unusual angle. It is based on in-depth interviews with 50 lawyers participating in Harvard’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) programme: Harvard’s LL.M. students include lawyers working in firms, government …

A million-pound musical coda to Ed Sheeran’s recent copyright case victory

Walled Culture has written a couple of times about lawsuits alleging copyright infringement by Ed Sheeran. Most recently, it noted the good news that a UK judge ruled that Sheeran did not copy ideas from from another song in one of his biggest hits. There’s now what might be called a coda to this story, …

Amazon’s doubly amazing achievement in becoming the backbone of Hollywood

Back in March, Walled Culture reported on Amazon’s acquisition of MGM, and how it was a logical move for the company given that it is seeking to establish itself as one of the main video streaming companies, alongside Netflix and Disney. But in the background, Amazon has achieved something even more remarkable, first noted in …

If they could, publishers would abolish libraries; here’s what they are doing instead

It is often said that if public libraries did not exist, modern publishers would never allow them to be set up, on the grounds that “clearly” every book loaned out was a sale lost. Fortunately, at the time that public libraries were created in various countries, publishers took a more enlightened view. Unfortunately, today’s publishers …

What exactly is plagiarism? And does it really matter anyway?

There’s a fascinating article by Rebecca Jennings on Vox which explores the vexed question of plagiarism. Its starting point is a post on TikTok, entitled “How to EASILY Produce Video Ideas for TikTok.” It gives the following advice: Find somebody else’s TikTok that inspires you and then literally copy it. You don’t need to copy …

How “merit-based monetisation” works for game streaming, where copyright fails

An interesting development in the digital world has been the continuing rise of gaming as a hugely popular activity, and a hugely profitable industry. Flowing from that rise and popularity, there is yet another fascinating aspect: streaming games for entertainment. The best-known example of this phenomenon is Twitch, now owned by Amazon. A new paper …