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 …

Italy’s new Piracy Shield has just gone into operation and is already harming human rights there

Back in October, Walled Culture wrote about the grandly-named “Piracy Shield”. This is Italy’s new Internet blocking system, which assumes people are guilty until innocent, and gives the copyright industry a disproportionate power to control what is available online, no court orders required. Piracy Shield went live in December, and has just issued its first …

Two important reasons for keeping AI-generated works in the public domain

Generative AI continues to be the hot topic in the digital world – and beyond. A previous blog post noted that this has led to people finally asking the important question whether copyright is fit for the digital world. As far as AI is concerned, there are two sides to the question. The first is …

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 …

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 …

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 …

How copyright exceptionalism in France risks undermining the EU legal system

Back in May, Walled Culture wrote about an important case before the EU’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It involved the “High Authority for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet” (Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur …

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. …

Google goes on the attack against the “weaponisation of copyright law”; that’s good – now do it routinely

A few weeks ago Walled Culture wrote about how it is possible to deploy the flawed copyright takedown system for anti-competitive purposes. In that case it was the e-commerce company Shopify that alleged its customers were being harmed by false DMCA notices. Now Google has joined in with an important lawsuit that aims to combat …

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 …

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 …

Money talks in the world of copyright legislation, and that’s a big problem for ordinary Internet users

Copyright has always been about money. That’s why the copyright industry fights so hard to strengthen legal protections, in order to boost its profits. However, getting detailed information about how much money is involved, and who receives it, is hard, because there are so many small pieces to the overall copyright ecosystem. That makes a …

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 …

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 …

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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