Little mermaid, long copyright, big absurdity

Many people are familiar with The Little Mermaid statue, perched on a rock by the waterside in Copenhagen, Denmark. What is less well-known is the absurd copyright maximalism it has given rise to. The latest manifestation concerns a cartoon depicting the statue as a zombie, and a photo of it with a facemask, reported here …

A bit is a bit is a bit: digital platforms begin to merge with digital producers

Last week Walled Culture wrote about Microsoft’s planned purchase of the video gaming company Activision. That’s been followed by some other news stories that may not involve such headline-grabbing acquisitions, but which do form part of the same larger trend. First, there’s the Joe Rogan kerfuffle at Spotify. Tim De Chant on Ars Technica explained …

Interview | Katherine Maher: The Monkey Selfie, Public Domain, Freedom of Panorama, the EU Copyright Directive, Remix Culture, & the 20th Century Black Hole

Katherine Maher, advocate for free and open societies, is the former CEO and Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Her background is in the field of information and communications technology, and she works at non-profits in the international sector, focusing on the use of technology enabling human rights and international developments. She reflects on the …

Beyond a game: Microsoft swallows up Activision, a further concentration of power in a few digital giants

This blog has written a couple times about YouTube‘s dominance in the video sector. Spotify may well create a similar leading position for itself in music streaming, while a mega-merger underway would shrink publishing‘s Big Five into the Big Four. A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter shows that a similar concentration of power is …

The top ten YouTubers collectively earned $300m in 2021: is that good or bad?

It’s always interesting to see hard figures about how much individuals earn online from their activities there. For example, Forbes published an article recently that looked at the top ten YouTubers. The income of the stars in this relatively new medium turns out to be comparable to that of those working in traditional ones like …

Thanks to copyright maximalism, video game masterpieces are likely to be lost forever

Video games are undoubtedly an art form, arguably the quintessential art form of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. They combine graphics, video, music and interactive plotlines to produce a uniquely rich and complex creation only possible thanks to the widespread availability of powerful but low-cost systems like game consoles and personal computers. Clearly, …

Interview | Alex Sayf Cummings: Music Piracy, Alternative Remuneration Models, Blurred Lines, SOPA, and Out of Control Copyright Terms and Penalties

Alex Sayf Cummings is a historian of law, technology, labor, public policy, and American cities. A leading voice on pop culture and public history, she has published on a variety of topics, from music history to the information economy. Her teaching focuses on the history of media industries (such as music, publishing, broadcasting) and American …

How the financialisation of music could lead to demands for perpetual copyright

Back in October, this blog noted the huge amounts of money pouring into music copyrights, largely driven by the global rise of online streaming. Since then, that trend has continued, most notably with Bruce Springsteen’s sale of his recordings and songwriting catalogue to Sony, for a rumoured $550 million. As we pointed out in the …

Interview | Salvador Alcántar Morán: Mexican Copyright Unfit-for-purpose in the Digital age, the Public Domain as a Human Right, and the Need for a True Multistakeholder Approach and a Global Perspective on Copyright

Salvador Alcántar Morán is a lawyer, focused on digital copyright, educational technology and digital communications. He is the co-founder of Wikimedia Mexico and of Creative Commons Mexico. He was also manager of the General Direction of Digital Communications of the Mexico City Government. He talks about how the Mexican copyright framework is not adapted to …

Public Domain Day is here again: it should be an occasion for condemnation, not celebration

Once copyright’s walls come down, creative material enters the public domain. It is free for all to use, modify and build upon. It is part of the matrix from which future creativity springs. One of the best places to explore it and its importance is the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at …

Interview | Brewster Kahle: Libraries’ Role, 3 Internet Battles, Licensing Pains, the National Emergency Library, and the Internet Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending Efforts vs. the Publishers’ Lawsuit

Brewster Kahle is founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest libraries in the world. Next to his mission to provide universal access to all knowledge, he is a passionate advocate for public Internet access, as well as a successful entrepreneur (Thinking Machines, Wide Area Information Server and Alexa Internet) and …

The copyright industry wants everything filtered as it is uploaded; here’s why that will be a disaster

The history of copyright can be seen as one of increasing control by companies over what ordinary people can do with material created by others. For the online world, the endgame is where copyright holders get to check and approve every single file that is uploaded, with the power to block anything they regard as …

A few companies dominate the music market; meet the rising giant that could beat them all: Spotify

Back in September, a blog post noted that Universal Music Group (UMG) regarded streaming as key to its future. Investors agreed, pushing the company’s valuation to 45 billion euros (over $50 billion) when it made its IPO. If streaming is good for UMG, it will be even better for the company that re-invented the idea: …

How to add much-needed zest to copyright: treating creators fairly by leaving them in control

One theme that is appearing more frequently both here on Walled Culture, and in wider coverage of the copyright world, is the idea that creators should remain in control of their own works.  Recent posts have underlined that currently this is far from being the case: creators of all kinds are routinely expected to hand …

Interview | Lawrence Lessig: Internet Architecture, Remix Culture, Creative Commons, NFTs, Aaron Swartz and the Internet Archive

Professor Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and notably a founding board member of Creative Commons. The New Yorker has called him the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era. In this podcast episode, he shares his reflections on the interplay between copyright …

The film industry effectively solved the problem of unauthorised downloads; now it is “unsolving” it…

Copyright companies frequently invoke “piracy” when they demand new legislation or stronger enforcement of existing laws. Usually, they have a free hand to claim what they like about these “pirates” and their motivation – we rarely hear from the latter about why they do it. That makes a post on TorrentFreak particularly interesting. It’s a …

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