How to make money by acknowledging the difference between analogue and digital

One of the central ideas of Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available) is that there is a fundamental difference between analogue and digital, and that copyright fails to recognise that. Instead, it seeks to impose what is an inherently analogue approach based on scarcity to the online world where abundance is the norm. …

First-mover advantage in the arts means copyright isn’t necessary to protect innovative creativity

One of the arguments sometimes made in defence of copyright is that without it, creators would be unable to compete with the hordes of copycats that would spring up as soon as their works became popular. Copyright is needed, supporters say, to prevent less innovative creators from producing works that are closely based on new, …

We are losing vast swathes of our digital past, and copyright stops us saving it

It is hard to imagine the world without the Web. Collectively, we routinely access billions of Web pages without thinking about it. But we often take it for granted that the material we want to access will be there, both now and in the future. We all hit the dreaded “404 not found” error from …

Daily newspaper drops paywall, moves to reader patronage, generates 37% more revenue

The problems and unfairness of the copyright system are so manifest that many would like to adopt alternative approaches. But that’s a big step, and one that undoubtedly requires a certain courage. Every example that shows how the move worked for others is important, since it not only demonstrates that alternatives exist, but that they …

New research shows that the 2023 Canadian link tax has already failed – just like all the others

At the heart of Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available) lies the sorry tale of the EU Copyright Directive. Its stated aim appeared reasonable enough: to update EU copyright law for the digital age. But unprecedented lobbying by the copyright industry saw it become yet another failure to understand the online world, and …

Top EU court says there is no right to online anonymity, because copyright is more important

A year ago, Walled Culture wrote about an extremely important case that was being considered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the EU’s top court. The central question was whether the judges considered that copyright was more important than privacy. The bad news is that the CJEU has just decided that …

How to stop video games being made unplayable once support ends

The Pirate Party has long played an important role in fighting the worst excesses of copyright in the EU. For example, when a major copyright update was being discussed, the Pirate Party MEP Felix Reda wrote an insightful and practical report on what needed changing. Most of his recommendations were ignored in the final EU …

Why generative AI companies should pay artists to create new works, and give away the results

The latest obsession in the world of copyright is trying to get generative AI companies to pay for using creative material for training purposes. As various posts have noted, this makes no sense, because training is just a matter of analysis, which requires no permission. What the copyright world wants to do is to erect …

Now with added generative AI: a new way to abuse the broken copyright system

As Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available) recounts, one of the many problems with copyright is that it can be used – and abused – for purposes that have nothing to do with its original intent of promoting creativity. One of the best known of these is to force people to take down true …

A French collecting society wants a tax on generative AI, payable to…collecting societies

Back in October last year, Walled Culture wrote about a proposed law in France that would see a tax imposed on AI companies, with the proceeds being paid to a collecting society. Now that the EU’s AI Act has been adopted, it is being invoked as another reason why just such a system should be …

How private equity has used copyright to cannibalise the past at the expense of the future

Walled Culture has been warning about the financialisation and securitisation of music for two years now. Those obscure but important developments mean that the owners of copyrights are increasingly detached from the creative production process. They regard music as just another asset, like gold, petroleum or property, to be exploited to the maximum. A Guest …

Of true fans and superfans: the rise of an alternative business model to copyright

One of the commonest arguments from supporters of copyright is that creators need to be rewarded and that copyright is the only realistic way of doing that. The first statement may be true, but the second certainly isn’t. As Walled Culture the book (free digital versions available) notes, most art was created without copyright, when …

Forgotten books and how to save them

On the Neglected Books site, there is a fine meditation on rescuing forgotten writers and their works from oblivion, and why this is important. As its author Brad Bigelow explains: I have been searching for neglected books for over forty years and the one thing I can say with unshakeable confidence is that there are …

The new Hadopi? Piracy Shield blocks innocent Web sites and makes it hard for them to appeal

Italy’s newly-installed Piracy Shield system, put in place by the country’s national telecoms regulator, Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (Authority for Communications Guarantees, AGCOM), is already failing in significant ways. One issue became evident in February, when the VPN provider AirVPN announced that it would no longer accept users resident in Italy because of …

How copyright makes the climate crisis worse

Many of the posts here on the Walled Culture blog examine fairly niche problems that copyright is causing. Although they are undoubtedly important, in the overall scheme of things they can hardly be called major. But sometimes copyright can have important repercussions in the wider world, as an interesting post on The Conversation makes clear. …

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 …

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