Important court ruling on copyright ought to lead to a blossoming of UK open culture – but will it?

There’s a post on the Creative Commons blog with some important news about copyright (in the UK, at least): In November 2023, the Court of Appeal in THJ v Sheridan offered an important clarification of the originality requirement under UK copyright law, which clears a path for open culture to flourish in the UK. In …

Two important reasons for keeping AI-generated works in the public domain

Generative AI continues to be the hot topic in the digital world – and beyond. A previous blog post noted that this has led to people finally asking the important question whether copyright is fit for the digital world. As far as AI is concerned, there are two sides to the question. The first is …

A Swiftian solution to some of copyright’s problems

Copyright is generally understood to be for the benefit of two groups of people: creators and their audience. Given that modern copyright often acts against the interests of the general public – forbidding even the most innocuous sharing of copyright material online – copyright intermediaries such as publishers, recording companies and film studios typically place …

Mickey Mouse is public domain now, but the battle to prevent copyright term extensions is not over

The beginning of the year is a great time for the public domain, since it sees thousands of copyrighted works released from the intellectual monopoly that prevents their free creative use. Which works enter the public domain depends on the details of local copyright law, which varies around the world. But there’s a liberation that …

Generative AI will be a huge boon for the public domain – unless copyright blocks it

A year ago, I noted that many of Walled Culture’s illustrations were being produced using generative AI. During that time, AI has developed rapidly. For example, in the field of images, OpenAI has introduced DALL-E 3 in ChatGPT: When prompted with an idea, ChatGPT will automatically generate tailored, detailed prompts for DALL·E 3 that bring …

Good artists copy, great artists steal – and generative AI does the marketing for both

The attacks on generative AI started out claiming that it was all about protecting the creators whose works were being “stolen” in some mysterious way by virtue of software analysing them. In some cases, that high-minded stance has already degenerated into yet another scheme to pay collecting societies even more for doing next to nothing. …

Scammers who made $23.4 million from Content ID must pay back only $3.4 million to cheated artists

In Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available), I linked to a fascinating Content ID scam that TorrentFreak has been reporting on for some years. It revolved around an extremely simple abuse of YouTube’s Content ID system. Built by Google for a cost of around $100 million, Content ID is a fingerprinting system that …

A welcome attempt to take down Piracy Shield, Italy’s pre-emptive and unfair Net block system

The copyright industry’s war on the Internet and its users has gone through various stages (full details and links to numerous references in Walled Culture the book, free digital versions available). The first was to sue Internet users directly for sharing files. By 2007, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had sued at least …

How copyright drives Internet fragmentation, and why it is hard to fix

The EU Copyright Directive is arguably the most important recent legislation in the area of intellectual monopolies. It is also a failure, judged purely on its own terms as an initiative to modernise and unify copyright across the European Union. Instead, it includes many backward-looking features that go against the grain of the digital world, …

New French copyright law for AI creations would just mean more money for collecting societies

This blog has written a number of times about the reaction of creators to generative AI. Legal academic and copyright expert Andres Guadamuz has spotted what may be the first attempt to draw up a new law to regulate generative AI. It comes from French politicians, who have developed something of a habit of bringing …

Unique collection of old TV culture put at risk by a heavy-handed copyright takedown system

Although copyright is mainly thought of as concerning books, music and films, it applies to other kinds of creativity in a fixed form. That includes apparently trivial material such as early commercial television programmes. These are important cultural artefacts, but unlike books, music or films, there are very few formal schemes for collecting and conserving …

After publishers, now recording companies want to stop the Internet Archive from sharing culture

Back in March, Walled Culture wrote about the terrible ruling by US Judge John G. Koeltl that the Internet Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending programme was not a fair use. The Internet Archive has said that it will appeal against the ruling, but in the meantime it has jointly proposed with the publishers involved an agreement …

China fully embraces Western copyright, and inevitably suffers from its ills

Modern copyright was invented in the West, with England’s 1710 Statute of Anne. But in the last few decades, the US and other Western nations have pushed for other parts of the world to bring in similarly restrictive laws.  This was purely out of self-interest, to allow Western copyright companies to extract their monopoly rents …

Long overdue, but good to see: Germany’s new copyright exception for pastiche applied for first time

Although overall the EU Copyright Directive is bad news for the digital world because of things like its need for the use of automated upload filters, it does contain a few glimmers of good sense. For example, it rectifies a failing of the previous EU legislation in this area, the 2001 Infosec Directive. The 2001 …

Warhol understood what transformative art looked like, the US Supreme Court doesn’t

Last year Walled Culture wrote about an important copyright case before the US Supreme Court. It concerned Warhol’s images of the musician Prince, which are based on a photo taken by Lynn Goldsmith. At issue was whether this was fair use of the work. By seven to two, the Supreme Court judges ruled that it …

In a world where AI art is cheap and easy to generate, do we still need copyright?

To say that AI-generated art is controversial would be something of an understatement. The appearance last year of free tools like Stable Diffusion has not just thrown the world of art into turmoil, it has raised profound questions about the nature of human creativity. AI art also involves thorny issues of copyright that have piqued …

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