Sharing material used to be the norm for newspapers, and should be for LLMs

Even though parents insist that it is good and right to share things, the copyright world has succeeded in establishing the contrary as the norm. Now, sharing is deemed a bad, possibly illegal thing. But it was not always thus, as a fascinating speech by Ryan Cordell, Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences …

Yet more examples of how copyright destroys culture rather than driving it [Updated]

One of the supposed justifications for the intellectual monopoly called copyright is that it drives creativity and culture. In the last few weeks alone we have had multiple demonstrations of why the opposite is true: copyright destroys culture, and not by accident, but wilfully. For example, the MTVNews.com site, along with its sister site CMT.com, …

A rare copyright win for the public – but a small one, only in Canada, and possibly temporary

It is extraordinary that within the copyright world it is accepted dogma that legal protections for this intellectual monopoly should always get stronger – creating a kind of copyright ratchet. One of the manifestations of this belief was the WIPO Copyright Treaty, signed in 1996, which extended copyright in important ways. A key element was …

We are losing vast swathes of our digital past, and copyright stops us saving it

It is hard to imagine the world without the Web. Collectively, we routinely access billions of Web pages without thinking about it. But we often take it for granted that the material we want to access will be there, both now and in the future. We all hit the dreaded “404 not found” error from …

Research suggests more open access training for academics could help boost its uptake and support

Open access publishing, which allows people to read academic papers without a subscription, seems such a good idea. It means that anyone, anywhere in the world, can read the latest research without needing to pay. Academic institutions can spend less to keep their scholars up-to-date with work in their field. It also helps disseminate research, …

We risk losing access to the world’s academic knowledge, and copyright makes things worse

The shift from analogue to digital has had a massive impact on most aspects of life. One area where that shift has the potential for huge benefits is in the world of academic publishing. Academic papers are costly to publish and distribute on paper, but in a digital format they can be shared globally for …

How copyright makes the climate crisis worse

Many of the posts here on the Walled Culture blog examine fairly niche problems that copyright is causing. Although they are undoubtedly important, in the overall scheme of things they can hardly be called major. But sometimes copyright can have important repercussions in the wider world, as an interesting post on The Conversation makes clear. …

Texts of laws must be freely available, not locked away by copyright; in Germany, many still aren’t

It is often said that “ignorance of the law is no defence”. But the corollary of this statement is that laws must be freely available so that people can find them, read them and obey them. Secret laws, or laws that are hard to access, undermine the ability and thus the willingness of citizens to …

Important court ruling on copyright ought to lead to a blossoming of UK open culture – but will it?

There’s a post on the Creative Commons blog with some important news about copyright (in the UK, at least): In November 2023, the Court of Appeal in THJ v Sheridan offered an important clarification of the originality requirement under UK copyright law, which clears a path for open culture to flourish in the UK. In …

Mickey Mouse is public domain now, but the battle to prevent copyright term extensions is not over

The beginning of the year is a great time for the public domain, since it sees thousands of copyrighted works released from the intellectual monopoly that prevents their free creative use. Which works enter the public domain depends on the details of local copyright law, which varies around the world. But there’s a liberation that …

Another reason why diamond open access is best: no economic barriers to publishing rebuttals

Walled Culture has written numerous posts about the promise and problems of open access. An important editorial in the journal Web Ecology raises an issue for open access that I’ve not seen mentioned before. It concerns the fraught issue of rebuttal articles, which offer fact-based criticism of already-published academic papers: Critical comments on published articles …

How copyright hinders the preservation of modern, digital culture

A recent Guardian interview with the British Library’s head of digital publications, Giulia Carla Rossi, reveals the problems caused by copyright for those tasked with preserving modern culture. In some respects, the British Library finds itself in a fortunate position, as Rossi explains: Because we collect under non-print legal deposit [the regulation that grants the …

Organisations call on UK government to safeguard AI innovation from being throttled by copyright

As Walled Culture has often noted, the process of framing new copyright laws is tilted against the public in multiple ways. And on the rare occasions when a government makes some mild concession to anyone outside the copyright industry, the latter invariably rolls out its highly-effective lobbying machine to fight against such measures. It’s happening …

Internet Archive: new copyright laws for generative AI would “further entrench” market leaders

The current excitement over artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, has now reached the stage where governments feel they need to do something about it in terms of regulations. The EU’s AI Act was drawn up before generative AI took off, but is now being retro-fitted with bad ideas to take account of recent developments. …

Taking open access to the next level, by giving control to researchers, instead of to academic publishers

Back in February 2022, Walled Culture wrote about diamond open access (OA), perhaps the “purest” form of open access publishing, since there are no charges for either the reader or the researcher. In that post, I mentioned an excellent 2021 report on diamond OA, published by the open access group cOAlition S. The group has …

Lawrence Lessig on copyright, generative AI and the right to train

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and one of the biggest names in the world of digital copyright. Walled Culture’s 2021 interview with him runs through many of his key ideas and projects, although sadly he does not work directly in the field of copyright any more. …

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