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 …

A lawsuit against OpenAI has mainstream media finally asking if copyright is fit for the digital world

Last year saw great excitement over a new wave of AI services based on large language models (LLMs). That enthusiasm was somewhat overshadowed by a subsequent wave of lawsuits claiming that the LLMs were guilty of copyright infringement because of the training materials they used. Just before the start of 2024, a new lawsuit was …

Generative AI will be a huge boon for the public domain – unless copyright blocks it

A year ago, I noted that many of Walled Culture’s illustrations were being produced using generative AI. During that time, AI has developed rapidly. For example, in the field of images, OpenAI has introduced DALL-E 3 in ChatGPT: When prompted with an idea, ChatGPT will automatically generate tailored, detailed prompts for DALL·E 3 that bring …

Good artists copy, great artists steal – and generative AI does the marketing for both

The attacks on generative AI started out claiming that it was all about protecting the creators whose works were being “stolen” in some mysterious way by virtue of software analysing them. In some cases, that high-minded stance has already degenerated into yet another scheme to pay collecting societies even more for doing next to nothing. …

Scammers who made $23.4 million from Content ID must pay back only $3.4 million to cheated artists

In Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available), I linked to a fascinating Content ID scam that TorrentFreak has been reporting on for some years. It revolved around an extremely simple abuse of YouTube’s Content ID system. Built by Google for a cost of around $100 million, Content ID is a fingerprinting system that …

Newspaper publishers’ obsession with link and snippet taxes is bad for society – and bad for them

Traditional newspapers have been complaining about the rise of the digital world for decades. Their discontent derives from the fact that they failed to recognise opportunities early on, leaving the field open for a new generation of born-digital companies to meet the demand for alternative ways to access the news. Rather than trying to understand …

How a flawed copyright takedown system is causing problems for online sales of perfume products

The copyright system is flawed at many levels, as hundreds of posts on this blog make clear. One particular class of problems concern takedowns. The best known of the ‘notice and takedown’ systems, that of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), allows the copyright industry to send takedown notices when they discover infringements on …

A welcome attempt to take down Piracy Shield, Italy’s pre-emptive and unfair Net block system

The copyright industry’s war on the Internet and its users has gone through various stages (full details and links to numerous references in Walled Culture the book, free digital versions available). The first was to sue Internet users directly for sharing files. By 2007, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had sued at least …

Here’s another way that AI will reduce ad income for publishers – and what they can do about it

New ways in which the latest AI technology can be applied are popping up all the time. Here’s an interesting example discussed by Ben Werdmuller on his blog, Werd.io. It concerns the proprietary browser Arc, currently only running on macOS and iOS, but with a Windows version promised for later this year. A new feature …

The New York Times tried to block the Internet Archive: another reason to value the latter

Walled Culture has already written about the two–pronged attack by the copyright industry against the Internet Archive, which was founded by Brewster Kahle, whose Kahle/Austin Foundation supports this blog. The Intercept has an interesting article that reveals another reason why some newspaper publishers are not great fans of the site: The New York Times tried …

Brown noise spam is another reason why music streaming payments need a radical overhaul

There’s an interesting story on Wired about “functional music” – things like white noise and brown noise – which is widely available on music streaming platforms. These kind of streams are causing a problem that arises from the fact that the money earned by streaming platforms is allotted in a rather odd way. All the …

Famous writers sue OpenAI for alleged copyright infringement, missing the point again

Last week, a group of prominent writers sued OpenAI, in what is just the latest in a growing number of lawsuits claiming that AI systems are infringing on their copyrights. The New York Times reports: More than a dozen authors filed a lawsuit against OpenAI on Tuesday, accusing the company, which has been backed with …

Copyright’s legal stranglehold on creativity has made putting works into the public domain absurdly hard

Bill Willingham is a well-known writer and artist of comics, famous for his work on the series Elementals and Fables. He’s written a long and interesting post on his blog about the shabby treatment he has suffered at the hands of his publishers, DC Comics, a subsidiary of the entertainment giant, Warner Bros. Discovery, which …

Interview | Fred von Lohmann: Copyright Battles, the US DMCA and EU Copyright Directive, Filters, and Interfaces

In this final bonus Walled Culture podcast episode – recorded mid-2022 and kept under wraps as a special 1st anniversary episode, we welcome Fred von Lohmann, former Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Google copyright counsel. Our conversation starts with recalling how he got intrigued by copyright, crediting John Perry Barlow, and explaining how he was …

Unique collection of old TV culture put at risk by a heavy-handed copyright takedown system

Although copyright is mainly thought of as concerning books, music and films, it applies to other kinds of creativity in a fixed form. That includes apparently trivial material such as early commercial television programmes. These are important cultural artefacts, but unlike books, music or films, there are very few formal schemes for collecting and conserving …

Google’s “Web Environment Integrity” is an attack on the open Internet and user freedom

Back in July, Walled Culture wrote about a terrible proposal from the French government to force browsers to incorporate a list of banned Web sites at the software level, so that they simply do not open.  Now Google has a similarly awful plan to block certain browsers from being able to access a Web site, …

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