Top EU court advisor says technical standards, like laws, should not be locked down by copyright

One of the most pernicious ideas that copyright maximalism has spread is that preventing people from freely accessing creative material is not just a good thing to do, but should be the natural state of affairs. This has made questioning whether copyright is really the best way to support artists and promote creativity hard. Against …

Digital business models are changing: what are artists’ thoughts, hopes and fears in this new world?

The creative world is changing rapidly under the impact of digital technologies. That makes the lack of research into how creators are reacting to and working with new technology all the more urgent. One new report that helps to address that gap in our knowledge is The Networked Shift, available as a free download from …

Here’s another important reason why academics should publish in open access titles: self interest

Open access has been discussed many times here on Walled Culture. There are several strands to its story. It’s about allowing the public to access research they have paid for through tax-funded grants, without needing to take out often expensive subscriptions to academic titles. It’s about saving educational institutions money that they are currently spending …

Mass resignation by top academics over “too greedy” publisher, as Council of the EU calls for open access

It’s no secret that academic publishers are making fabulous profits by exploiting the work provided free of charge by researchers and funded by taxpayers. This is still happening, despite over two decades of efforts to move to a fairer system based on open access publishing. Now, over 40 of the top researchers in the field …

A “blatant no” from a copyright holder stops vital linguistic research work in Africa

Copyright discussions typically concern texts in just a few languages, and often only in English. In part, that’s because copyright law has evolved most quickly in anglophone countries. But it means that the copyright problems faced by those speaking less well-known languages – particularly languages with limited quantities of textual material available – are completely …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Here’s a puzzle: when is the public domain not in the public domain?

Walled Culture is a big fan of the public domain. The amazing artistic uses that people are able to make of material only once it enters the public domain are an indication that copyright can act as an obstacle to wider creativity, rather than something that automatically promotes it. But there’s a problem: because the …

Research shows that, when given the choice, most authors don’t want excessively-long copyright terms

Last week Walled Culture mentioned the problem of orphan works. These are creations, typically books, that are still covered by copyright, but unavailable because the original publisher or distributor has gone out of business, or simply isn’t interested in keeping them in circulation. The problem is that without any obvious point of contact, it’s not …

How publishers lobbied to “axe the reading tax” on ebooks, won – and then paid it to themselves

One of the (many) villains in Walled Culture the book (free ebook versions) is the publishing industry, specifically in the context of the transition from analogue books to ebooks. What could have been one of the most important expansions of the power and possibility of the book form became instead its opposite – a diminishment …

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