Copyright concentration continues: Amazon closes its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM

There are few more famous studios in the history of cinema than MGM. Wikipedia describes its early days: MGM was formed by Marcus Loew by combining Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into a single company. It hired a number of well known actors as contract players – its slogan was “more …

Copyright is indispensable for artists, they say; but for all artists, or just certain kinds?

One of the central “justifications” for copyright is that it is indispensable if creativity is to be viable. Without it, we are assured, artists would starve. This ignores the fact that artists created and thrived for thousands of years before the 1710 Statute of Anne. But leaving that historical detail aside, as well as the …

TikTok gets into the music marketing and distribution business

Last month we wrote about an increasingly important trend of digital platforms becoming more involved in digital production. Here’s another striking example: TikTok, best known for its short-form mobile videos, featuring things like dance, jokes, stunts and tricks, has announced the launch of the SoundOn platform, “designed to empower new and undiscovered artists, helping them …

A further spate of lawsuits demonstrate how copyright is antithetical to creativity

It is established dogma in the church of copyright that the latter is an indispensable tool for promoting creativity. A couple of recent lawsuits against top musicians give the lie to that idea. Here’s one of them, reported on the Copyright Lately blog: On Tuesday, Dua Lipa was hit with a copyright complaint by Florida …

Time for the copyright world to stop attacking the Internet’s infrastructure

Despite the impossibility of stopping people making copies of digital material, the copyright industry continues to launch ever-more extreme legal actions against outside parties in a desperate attempt to do just that. For example, back in October, this blog reported on an attempt to force a CDN – content delivery network – to act as …

Donda 2 or dongle 2.0? Why Kanye West’s $200 album + Stem Player combo is a smart move

Kanye West has just carried out a fascinating copyright experiment. That probably wasn’t his intention when he released his eleventh studio album Donda 2, but the launch has nonetheless provided some interesting insights regarding the music sector. As he revealed earlier, Donda 2 is not on “Apple Amazon Spotify or YouTube“. Instead, it is only …

Why add to Ukraine’s problems with an unnecessary implementation of a bad EU copyright law?

It would be something of an understatement to say that Ukraine is facing serious problems currently. Against that background, this news from the IPKat blog is rather surprising: While certain EU Member States are still to transpose Directive (EU) 2019/790 (Copyright [Digital Single Market] Directive), Ukraine, a non-EU country, has decided to implement certain provisions …

First financialisation, now securitisation: copyright music industry moves further away from artists

I’ve written a couple of times about a worrying new trend: music copyrights becoming completely divorced from the original creativity that lies behind them, thanks to the increasing financialisation of the sector. As songs are viewed simply as assets that can be bought and sold, they can also be manipulated in other ways, including securitisation, …

Nintendo kills off an ad-free YouTube channel where fans could listen to its game music, because copyright

Walled Culture has just written about the way the boundaries between digital platforms and digital producers are becoming more fluid. Here’s another interesting melding of media: the GilvaSunner channel on YouTube, which consists of nothing but video game soundtracks, mostly from Nintendo games. It’s a pity we can no longer visit it (original account that is …

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 …

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, …

How to make money from scarcity, in a world of digital abundance

The current crisis in the copyright world is being driven by the once-in-a-civilisation transition from an analogue world to a digital one. Initially the copyright industries fought the Internet and the massive shifts it brought with it, lobbying for laws like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act that tried to make digital water unwet. Belatedly, …

Rock star worth $450 million wins copyright case against widow who offered bootleg CD for €9.95

As the very first post on this blog pointed out, copyright is fundamentally unsuited to the digital world. It assumes that copying material is hard, and can therefore only be carried out by larger organisations. As a consequence, punishments for copyright infringement are extreme, since they are calibrated to dissuade even well-funded groups from making …

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 …