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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Enjoy digital ownership and public libraries while you can: they may disappear soon…

Michael E. Karpeles, Program Lead on OpenLibrary.org at the Internet Archive, spotted an interesting blog post by Michael Kozlowski, the editor-in-chief of Good e-Reader. It concerns Amazon and its audiobook division, Audible: Amazon owned Audible ceased selling individual audiobooks through their Android app from Google Play a couple of weeks ago. This will prevent anyone …

How can you save a dying language when copyright lets somebody own its key learning materials?

One of deep-seated problems with copyright is that its supporters believe everything created should be “owned” by someone and protected from being “stolen” by others. Walled Culture has already written about how that’s a bad fit for writing music, and the NBC News site has a fascinating story about how the same issue is plaguing …

Good news: Taiwan creates a new fair use of copyright material; bad news: it’s tiny

Too often we assume that copyright is something that only concerns Western nations like the US and EU. But it’s important to remember that copyright has been exported all around the world. Moreover, when Western nations make copyright worse, they then try to convince other countries to adopt the same bad ideas, for example through …

During the Covid pandemic, some publishers didn’t just fail libraries, they exploited them

Back in December last year, a guest post on Walled Culture by Yohanna Anderson related how publishers initially offered universities free access to ebook collections when it became clear that the Covid pandemic would mean libraries would not be able to open for the foreseeable future. It seemed a generous move on the publishers’ part. …

Why moving to diamond open access will not only save money, but also help to protect privacy

Back in September last year, Walled Culture mentioned the consistently high profit margins of 30-40% enjoyed by the academic publisher Elsevier. That’s problematic because these profits flow from the work of academics largely paid for by the taxpayer, with additional refereeing and editorial work generally carried out for free by other academics. So Elsevier gains …

How backdated articles abuse the DMCA’s takedown system to remove legitimate news items

Online platforms often give access to digital material that is under copyright. If any of that content is infringing, then potentially the platform would be liable as well as the person who uploaded it. Online companies naturally want to be immune to the consequences of any copyright infringement committed by their users. However, companies in …

Top EU court hands down judgment on upload filters that is as clear as mud

Walled Culture has just written about the great difficulty national governments are having in transposing the EU Copyright Directive into local law. That’s largely because of the badly-drafted and contradictory Article 17. It effectively calls for upload filters, which have obvious problems for freedom of expression because of the impossibility of crafting algorithms that encapsulate …

The EU Copyright Directive is so bad it’s proving really hard to transpose into decent national laws

Walled Culture has written numerous posts about the EU Copyright Directive, because it contains two extremely harmful ideas. The first is the “snippet tax“, an attempt by some press publishers to make sites like Google pay for the privilege of displaying and linking to newspaper publishers’ material – an assault on the Web’s underlying hyperlink …

Canada is about to repeat New Zealand’s folly by extending copyright term; so bring back registration

Canada looks likely to follow New Zealand’s bad example by extending its copyright term by 20 years, purely for the sake of a trade deal.  The New Zealand government’s research showed that extending copyright term in this way makes no sense, and the same is true for Canada.  As Michael Geist writes on his blog …

How a minor copyright squabble changed the course of scientific history, and not for the better

Anyone who reads scientific papers has probably come across “p-values“. The Wikipedia entry explains the idea as follows: In null-hypothesis significance testing, the p-value is the probability of obtaining test results at least as extreme as the results actually observed, under the assumption that the null hypothesis is correct. A very small p-value means that …

Time for the copyright world to stop attacking the Internet’s infrastructure

Despite the impossibility of stopping people making copies of digital material, the copyright industry continues to launch ever-more extreme legal actions against outside parties in a desperate attempt to do just that. For example, back in October, this blog reported on an attempt to force a CDN – content delivery network – to act as …