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 …

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 …

Guest post | Au-delà de l’attentisme, une voie expérimentaliste pour l’avenir du droit d’auteur ?

Pourquoi protéger les droits d’auteur ? A moins d’être partisan des justifications lockéennes de la propriété intellectuelle (et d’être prêt à assumer leurs conséquences radicales dans le domaine de la propriété matérielle), nombreux sont ceux qui répondraient que la justification la plus forte réside dans l’argument de l’incitation à la création : sans la possibilité pour les …

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 …

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, …