Why Meta’s project to translate automatically between 200 languages will be stymied by copyright

Meta’s AI division has announced two exciting new projects in the field of machine translation: The first is No Language Left Behind, where we are building a new advanced AI model that can learn from languages with fewer examples to train from, and we will use it to enable expert-quality translations in hundreds of languages, …

PlayStation reminds people that digital ownership is vanishing, by removing films they had bought

Last month, we wrote about the imminent death of digital ownership. In case some people didn’t get the message, Sony’s PlayStation division has just made it crystal clear (translation by DeepL) with the imminent removal of 314 titles in Germany and 137 in Austria from the distributor StudioCanal: As of 31 August 2022, due to …

Why the true fans model is coming into its own now, and how to ensure its sustainability

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are big supporters of the true fans idea – that artists can thrive by building stronger connections with a core of faithful fans who will support their favourite creators well beyond the level of simply paying them occasionally for their material. Perhaps the earliest and best …

The mighty Elsevier academic octopus adds another tentacle

Last year, Walled Culture noted that the academic publisher Elsevier enjoys an astonishing profit margin of 30-40%. Those profits, built on the free labour of academics writing about research that has been largely paid for with public money, has allowed Elsevier to go on a spending spree, buying up companies that complement and extend its …

How copyright’s ownership obsession has turned magazine contracts into intellectual extractivism

The indispensable Cory Doctorow, who was the first person to speak with Walled Culture as part of its interview series, has yet another great post that encapsulates a particular aspect of copyright madness: the obsession with ownership. Drawing on his own long experience in writing for magazines, he explains: There was the time that a …

Top Harvard lawyers don’t think making and sharing unauthorised digital copies is theft

TorrentFreak has a report about a piece of research – sadly behind a paywall – by Malgorzata Ciesielska and Dariusz Jemielniak, that looks at copyright from an unusual angle. It is based on in-depth interviews with 50 lawyers participating in Harvard’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) programme: Harvard’s LL.M. students include lawyers working in firms, government …

A million-pound musical coda to Ed Sheeran’s recent copyright case victory

Walled Culture has written a couple of times about lawsuits alleging copyright infringement by Ed Sheeran. Most recently, it noted the good news that a UK judge ruled that Sheeran did not copy ideas from from another song in one of his biggest hits. There’s now what might be called a coda to this story, …

Amazon’s doubly amazing achievement in becoming the backbone of Hollywood

Back in March, Walled Culture reported on Amazon’s acquisition of MGM, and how it was a logical move for the company given that it is seeking to establish itself as one of the main video streaming companies, alongside Netflix and Disney. But in the background, Amazon has achieved something even more remarkable, first noted in …

If they could, publishers would abolish libraries; here’s what they are doing instead

It is often said that if public libraries did not exist, modern publishers would never allow them to be set up, on the grounds that “clearly” every book loaned out was a sale lost. Fortunately, at the time that public libraries were created in various countries, publishers took a more enlightened view. Unfortunately, today’s publishers …

What exactly is plagiarism? And does it really matter anyway?

There’s a fascinating article by Rebecca Jennings on Vox which explores the vexed question of plagiarism. Its starting point is a post on TikTok, entitled “How to EASILY Produce Video Ideas for TikTok.” It gives the following advice: Find somebody else’s TikTok that inspires you and then literally copy it. You don’t need to copy …

How “merit-based monetisation” works for game streaming, where copyright fails

An interesting development in the digital world has been the continuing rise of gaming as a hugely popular activity, and a hugely profitable industry. Flowing from that rise and popularity, there is yet another fascinating aspect: streaming games for entertainment. The best-known example of this phenomenon is Twitch, now owned by Amazon. A new paper …

Enjoy digital ownership and public libraries while you can: they may disappear soon…

Michael E. Karpeles, Program Lead on OpenLibrary.org at the Internet Archive, spotted an interesting blog post by Michael Kozlowski, the editor-in-chief of Good e-Reader. It concerns Amazon and its audiobook division, Audible: Amazon owned Audible ceased selling individual audiobooks through their Android app from Google Play a couple of weeks ago. This will prevent anyone …

For all the wrong reasons, two great copyright taboos have been broken

The Authors Alliance blog has an interesting post about Disney’s relationship with the duration of copyright in the US. This manifested itself most famously with the US Copyright Term Extension Act, passed in 1998. As the New York Times explained in 2002: The 1998 extension was a result of intense lobbying by a group of …

How can you save a dying language when copyright lets somebody own its key learning materials?

One of deep-seated problems with copyright is that its supporters believe everything created should be “owned” by someone and protected from being “stolen” by others. Walled Culture has already written about how that’s a bad fit for writing music, and the NBC News site has a fascinating story about how the same issue is plaguing …

UK copyright madness is back: ten years in prison for downloading and sharing a single song

One of the problems with the copyright industry lobbying for new laws is that governments often have no problem with passing them, no matter how one-sided and disproportionate their features may be. That’s despite other voices warning of the negative consequences that will flow from doing so. It seems that subservience to the copyright industry’s …

Good news: Taiwan creates a new fair use of copyright material; bad news: it’s tiny

Too often we assume that copyright is something that only concerns Western nations like the US and EU. But it’s important to remember that copyright has been exported all around the world. Moreover, when Western nations make copyright worse, they then try to convince other countries to adopt the same bad ideas, for example through …