New Zealand is about to commit copyright theft – the real kind

When modern copyright was invented with the Statute of Anne in 1710, it consisted of a bargain. In return for a time-limited, government-enforced monopoly, creators agreed that their work would pass afterwards into what came to be called the public domain – free for anyone to do anything with. Whatever you might think of the …

DRM on paper shows why anti-circumvention laws are copyright’s biggest blunder

Most people are familiar with the Dymo label printer in some form or another. Not an exciting product perhaps, but quite a useful one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some bad news – Dymo is adding DRM to its label paper in the form of RFID chips: Dymo’s latest generation of desktop label printers use …

Little mermaid, long copyright, big absurdity

Many people are familiar with The Little Mermaid statue, perched on a rock by the waterside in Copenhagen, Denmark. What is less well-known is the absurd copyright maximalism it has given rise to. The latest manifestation concerns a cartoon depicting the statue as a zombie, and a photo of it with a facemask, reported here …

First financialisation, now securitisation: copyright music industry moves further away from artists

I’ve written a couple of times about a worrying new trend: music copyrights becoming completely divorced from the original creativity that lies behind them, thanks to the increasing financialisation of the sector. As songs are viewed simply as assets that can be bought and sold, they can also be manipulated in other ways, including securitisation, …

Auguste Rodin’s sculptures are in the public domain; 3D scans of them should be, too

Auguste Rodin is without doubt one of the greatest sculptors in history. Equally without doubt, his works are now in the public domain, since he died in 1917. Unfortunately, the situation in France is a little more complicated, for reasons the artist and public domain campaigner Cosmo Wenman explains: Shortly before his death, Rodin willed …

A bit is a bit is a bit: digital platforms begin to merge with digital producers

Last week Walled Culture wrote about Microsoft’s planned purchase of the video gaming company Activision. That’s been followed by some other news stories that may not involve such headline-grabbing acquisitions, but which do form part of the same larger trend. First, there’s the Joe Rogan kerfuffle at Spotify. Tim De Chant on Ars Technica explained …

ResearchEquals: step-by-step academic publishing, where the default is openness and CC0

There are a number of problems with academic publishing, which open access has been trying to fix for over two decades. Back in 2020, a “Manifesto to Liberate Science: Organic knowledge(s)” appeared, with the following interesting framing of the issues: We have inadvertently handed over the pursuit of knowledge to those who wish to commodify …

Beyond a game: Microsoft swallows up Activision, a further concentration of power in a few digital giants

This blog has written a couple times about YouTube‘s dominance in the video sector. Spotify may well create a similar leading position for itself in music streaming, while a mega-merger underway would shrink publishing‘s Big Five into the Big Four. A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter shows that a similar concentration of power is …

Analogue books go from strength to strength – helped, not hindered, by the digital world

Many of the worst ideas in recent copyright laws have been driven by some influential companies’ fear of the transition from analogue to digital. Whereas analogue formats – vinyl, books, cinematic releases of films – are relatively easy to control, digital ones are not. Once a creation is in a digital form, anyone can make …

Google Drive’s automated monitoring system flags up the number 1 as a copyright infringement

Earlier this week, Dr Emily Dolson, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, posted the tweet shown above. It’s a warning that one of Dr Dolson’s files violates Google Drive’s Copyright Infringement policy, and that some features related to the file “may have been restricted”. As she tweeted, the file contains a single line with the …

Copyright means you can’t tweak how a Web page appears on your screen, according to media giant

Advertising is one of the commonest ways of financing Web sites and services. There’s nothing wrong with that, at least in principle. But the fact that, according to one estimate, 42% of Internet users worldwide employ an ad blocker to remove those ads from their screens is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong. …

Guest post | How a politicians’ thesis could affect a country’s scientific culture

The president of the Colombian House of Representatives, Congresswoman Jennifer Arias, allegedly plagiarised parts of her master’s thesis. The Colombian Universidad Externado explained in a recent press release that journalists are denied access to the thesis based on copyright concerns. This is a case of public interest, since the validity of the academic degree of …

From paywalled academic publishing towards free, fast and frictionless sharing of knowledge

As a post back in November explained, copyright is key to the business model of academic publishing. By pushing researchers to assign their copyright to publishers, the latter are able to erect and defend paywalls around academic work that has generally been paid for by the public. Expensive subscriptions are one way that academic publishers …

What has copyright got to do with the Tiananmen Square massacre?

Hong Kong was supposed to enjoy a special “one country, two systems” approach for 50 years after it was handed back to China by the UK in 1997. It’s clear now that the Chinese authorities have no intention of waiting that long. After the Hong Kong national security law was passed in 2020, Beijing has …

Remembering Aaron Swartz, who died on this day, a victim of the copyright system

On this day in 2013, Aaron Swartz died by his own hand, at the age of 26. His short but full life as a hacker and activist is summed up well on Wikipedia – one of the many projects he was involved with. It is widely believed that Swartz hanged himself because he faced the …

Public Domain Day is here again: it should be an occasion for condemnation, not celebration

Once copyright’s walls come down, creative material enters the public domain. It is free for all to use, modify and build upon. It is part of the matrix from which future creativity springs. One of the best places to explore it and its importance is the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at …

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