A new US law makes it easier for copyright trolls to terrorise people with claims of alleged infringement

The legal landscape is already strongly tilted in favour of copyright holders. But that doesn’t stop the copyright maximalists from demanding more ways to enforce their intellectual monopolies. The latest expansion of enforcement powers is doubly concerning. First, because its explicit purpose is to make it even easier to bring cases against alleged copyright infringement. …

Digital books do wear out – just like digital music, digital films and video games

There’s a great post by Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive blog with the title “Digital Books wear out faster than Physical Books“. He makes an important point about the work involved in providing and preserving digital books: The Internet Archive processes and reprocesses the books it has digitized as new optical character recognition technologies …

If Twitter goes down in flames, what happens to its huge and historically important collection of tweets?

This blog has just written about the likely loss of a very particular kind of culture – K-pop live streams. Culture is culture, and a loss is a loss. But potentially we are facing the disappearance of a cultural resource that is indisputably more important. I’m talking about Twitter, and its vast store of tweets …

No good deed goes unpunished in a world where the rules have been set by academic publishers

One of the heroes of my new book Walled Culture is Paul Ginsparg. In 1991, Ginsparg set up an automated email server while he was a staff member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. As preprints – early versions of academic papers – were uploaded, the server would send out alerts to subscribers, who could …

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 …

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, …

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 …