Germany wants to include copyright infringement as an example of “digital violence”

The hyperbolic rhetoric that is a feature of the copyright industry, which tries absurdly to characterise making an additional digital copy as “theft”, can lead to some serious legislative harm. For example, Germany is currently aiming to bring in a new law against “digital violence” – things like bullying and stalking, but also identity abuse …

Canadian musician Grimes shows how to embrace generative AI for fun and profit

Back in November last year, Walled Culture wrote about the growing panic in the copyright world as a result of generative AI programs writing music. Since then, the issue the entered the mainstream, not least with the following story, reported here by The New York Times: For Drake and the Weeknd, two of the most …

Yet again, the copyright industry demands to be shielded from technological progress – and the future

Back in October last year, Walled Culture was one of the first blogs to point out the huge impact that generative AI would have not only on copyright but also on creativity itself. Since then, the world seems to have split into two camps. One believes that generative AI will revolutionise everything, and create some …

What Professor Litman’s classic open access book “Digital Copyright” teaches us

The central theme of Walled Culture the blog and the book (free digital versions available for download) is how copyright is a bad fit for the digital world. That has become increasingly evident over the last twenty years, as more copyright laws have been passed. But the story begins back in the early 1990s, when …

Writers and publishers face an existential threat from AI: time to embrace the true fans model

Walled Culture has written several times about the major impact that generative AI will have on the copyright landscape. More specifically, these systems, which can create quickly and cheaply written material on any topic and in any style, are likely to threaten the publishing industry in profound ways. Exactly how is spelled out in this …

Bad news: copyright industry attacks on the Internet’s plumbing are increasing – and succeeding

Back in October 2021, Walled Culture wrote about a ruling from a US judge. It concerned an attempt to make the content delivery network (CDN) Cloudflare, which is simply part of the Internet’s plumbing, responsible for what flows through its connections. The judge rightly decided: “a reasonable jury could not – at least on this …

Somebody wants to copyright a rhythm – get ready for the dembow tax if they succeed

One of the most pernicious effects of today’s copyright maximalism is the idea that every element of a creative work has to be owned by someone, and protected against “unauthorised” – that is, unpaid – use by other artists. That goes against several thousand years of human creativity, which only exists thanks to successive generations …

Judge puts corporate profits above public benefits in Internet Archive copyright case

Walled Culture has just written about the selfish and short-sighted lawsuit that four of the biggest publishers brought against the Internet Archive. Unfortunately, following oral arguments last week, Judge John G. Koeltl has rather quickly found in favour of the former. The Internet Archive has already said that it will appeal against the decision, so …

The EU has brought back opt-in copyright for text and data mining: let’s build on that foundation

The central theme of Walled Culture the book (free digital versions) is the clash between copyright, devised for an analogue world, and the Internet, which is inherently digital. There are many manifestations of the the bad fit of the two, but if I had to choose one step that doomed copyright in the online world …

Publishers have long hated libraries; here’s the history, and the next attack

As a Walled Culture post last year noted, publishers hate libraries (well, many of the bigger publishers do, at least.) A handy piece of research entitled “The Publisher Playbook: A Brief History of the Publishing Industry’s Obstruction of the Library Mission” (freely available as a preprint) confirms that the hatred is long-standing: Libraries play an …

Here’s a puzzle: when is the public domain not in the public domain?

Walled Culture is a big fan of the public domain. The amazing artistic uses that people are able to make of material only once it enters the public domain are an indication that copyright can act as an obstacle to wider creativity, rather than something that automatically promotes it. But there’s a problem: because the …

Why the emerging new copyright landscape is both good news and bad news for creators and the public

The Walled Culture blog has been writing about the hot topic of generative AI and its impact on copyright for nearly six months now. One of the sharpest commentators on this area is Dr Andres Guadamuz, whom we interviewed a year ago. He’s just written a great blog post about a video by Corridor Crew …

Copyright means you may need permission to put photos of your own furnished room online

One of the life’s certainties is that copyright maximalism will continue to encourage absurd rulings by complaisant courts. Here’s a rather spectacular case from Germany. It involves a “photo wallpaper”. For those of you who – like me – aren’t quite sure what that means, it is the name given to wallpapers that are essentially …

Research shows that, when given the choice, most authors don’t want excessively-long copyright terms

Last week Walled Culture mentioned the problem of orphan works. These are creations, typically books, that are still covered by copyright, but unavailable because the original publisher or distributor has gone out of business, or simply isn’t interested in keeping them in circulation. The problem is that without any obvious point of contact, it’s not …

Copyright has been one of life’s certainties: but will it always be?

Copyright seems to be a fixture of our legal, economic and social systems. For 300 years, it has formed the backbone of the structures used to incentivise and remunerate creators. During that time, copyright has been extended repeatedly in length and breadth. The original term of the 1710 Statute of Anne – 14 years’ monopoly …

How publishers lobbied to “axe the reading tax” on ebooks, won – and then paid it to themselves

One of the (many) villains in Walled Culture the book (free ebook versions) is the publishing industry, specifically in the context of the transition from analogue books to ebooks. What could have been one of the most important expansions of the power and possibility of the book form became instead its opposite – a diminishment …

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