Ed Sheeran has won yet another copyright infringement case – and that’s outrageous

Ed Sheeran keeps on getting hit with accusations of copyright infringement. It’s partly his own fault, as he himself admits, reported here by the Guardian: in 2017, he settled out of court after songwriters of the Matt Cardle song Amazing claimed it had been copied by Sheeran for his song Photograph. Sheeran later said he …

Librarians of the world unite: call for action on ebooks

The terrible lawsuit against the Open Library for daring to increase access to books during the Covid pandemic is not just an attack on the Internet Archive’s selfless work. It is a broader attack on the very idea of the library, and on the vital services that libraries provide to society. These include offering ready …

Germany wants to include copyright infringement as an example of “digital violence”

The hyperbolic rhetoric that is a feature of the copyright industry, which tries absurdly to characterise making an additional digital copy as “theft”, can lead to some serious legislative harm. For example, Germany is currently aiming to bring in a new law against “digital violence” – things like bullying and stalking, but also identity abuse …

Canadian musician Grimes shows how to embrace generative AI for fun and profit

Back in November last year, Walled Culture wrote about the growing panic in the copyright world as a result of generative AI programs writing music. Since then, the issue the entered the mainstream, not least with the following story, reported here by The New York Times: For Drake and the Weeknd, two of the most …

UK Performing Right Society insists that every copyright is sacred – no exceptions

Most of the stories on this blog are about copyright absurdities, and the poor fit of an 18th-century legal framework for a 21st-century technology. But it’s important to remember that the copyright world is not just silly, but can be downright selfish. Here’s a great example of how copyright’s enforcers cannot imagine forgoing the tax …

Yet again, the copyright industry demands to be shielded from technological progress – and the future

Back in October last year, Walled Culture was one of the first blogs to point out the huge impact that generative AI would have not only on copyright but also on creativity itself. Since then, the world seems to have split into two camps. One believes that generative AI will revolutionise everything, and create some …

No big deal: calling the publishers’ bluff on high-price access to publicly-funded research

This blog has written a number of posts about open access, and its difficulties. One important impetus for the move towards open access was the increasing use by academic publishers of so-called “big deals”. Wikipedia explains: In a big deal, a library or consortium of libraries typically pays several million dollars per year to subscribe …

What Professor Litman’s classic open access book “Digital Copyright” teaches us

The central theme of Walled Culture the blog and the book (free digital versions available for download) is how copyright is a bad fit for the digital world. That has become increasingly evident over the last twenty years, as more copyright laws have been passed. But the story begins back in the early 1990s, when …

Writers and publishers face an existential threat from AI: time to embrace the true fans model

Walled Culture has written several times about the major impact that generative AI will have on the copyright landscape. More specifically, these systems, which can create quickly and cheaply written material on any topic and in any style, are likely to threaten the publishing industry in profound ways. Exactly how is spelled out in this …

Bad news: copyright industry attacks on the Internet’s plumbing are increasing – and succeeding

Back in October 2021, Walled Culture wrote about a ruling from a US judge. It concerned an attempt to make the content delivery network (CDN) Cloudflare, which is simply part of the Internet’s plumbing, responsible for what flows through its connections. The judge rightly decided: “a reasonable jury could not – at least on this …

Somebody wants to copyright a rhythm – get ready for the dembow tax if they succeed

One of the most pernicious effects of today’s copyright maximalism is the idea that every element of a creative work has to be owned by someone, and protected against “unauthorised” – that is, unpaid – use by other artists. That goes against several thousand years of human creativity, which only exists thanks to successive generations …

How to update copyright: Nigeria shows the way for Africa – and the world

Too often the posts on Walled Culture are about the latest copyright madness, or new laws making copyright even worse for the digital world. Against this background, it’s good to read that, as this blog hoped back in 2021, something positive has just happened in Nigeria that is likely to have important ramifications across the …

Why sharing ebooks is good for people – and good for publishers

One of the joys of reading is being able to share your favourite books with friends, family and colleagues. As I am sure is the case for most people, in these circumstances I often go on to buy my own copy of a book I have been lent and like. In this respect, sharing books …

Judge puts corporate profits above public benefits in Internet Archive copyright case

Walled Culture has just written about the selfish and short-sighted lawsuit that four of the biggest publishers brought against the Internet Archive. Unfortunately, following oral arguments last week, Judge John G. Koeltl has rather quickly found in favour of the former. The Internet Archive has already said that it will appeal against the decision, so …

The EU has brought back opt-in copyright for text and data mining: let’s build on that foundation

The central theme of Walled Culture the book (free digital versions) is the clash between copyright, devised for an analogue world, and the Internet, which is inherently digital. There are many manifestations of the the bad fit of the two, but if I had to choose one step that doomed copyright in the online world …

Publishers have long hated libraries; here’s the history, and the next attack

As a Walled Culture post last year noted, publishers hate libraries (well, many of the bigger publishers do, at least.) A handy piece of research entitled “The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission” (freely available as a preprint) confirms that the hatred is long-standing: Libraries play an …

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