Pluralistic: AI "art" and uncanniness (13 May 2024)


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Pluralistic: It all started with a mouse (15 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: An Epic antitrust loss for Google (12 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: "If buying isn't owning, piracy isn't stealing" (08 Dec 2023)


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Pluralistic: Podcasting "How To Think About Scraping" (25 Sept 2023)


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Pluralistic: Bill Willingham puts his graphic novel series "Fables" into the public domain (15 Sept 2023)


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Everything Made By an AI Is In the Public Domain

The US Copyright Office offers creative workers a powerful labor protective.

Norman Rockwell’s ‘self portrait.’ All the Rockwell faces have been replaced with HAL 9000 from Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ His signature has been modified with a series of rotations and extra symbols. He has ten fingers on his one visible hand. Image: Cryteria (modified) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HAL9000.svg CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en
Cryteria/CC BY 3.0, modified

Last week, a US federal judge handed America’s creative workers a huge labor win: Judge Beryl A Howell of the DC Circuit Court upheld a US Copyright Office ruling that works created by “AIs” are not eligible for copyright protection.

This is huge.

Some background: under US law — and under a mountain of international treaties, from the Berne Convention to the TRIPS —copyright is automatically granted to creative works of human authorship “at the moment of fixation in some tangible medium.”

That is: as soon as a human being makes something creative, and records it in some medium (a hard-drive, magnetic tape, paper, film, canvas, etc), that creative thing is immediately copyrighted (the duration of that copyright varies, both by territory and by whether the creator was working on their own or for a corporation).

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Pluralistic: Copyright won't solve creators' Generative AI problem (09 Feb 2023)


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Pluralistic: 2023's public domain is a banger (20 Dec 2022)


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What is Chokepoint Capitalism?

Why copyright alone can’t unrig creative labor markets.

A middle school doorway. Three cigarette-smoking hoodlums block it from a small schoolboy, seen from behind, carrying a backpack.
Buffalo Police Department/Public Domain (modified); Erik B. Anderson/CC BY-SA 4.0 (modified)

Chokepoint Capitalism is my next book, co-written with the brilliant copyright scholar Rebecca Giblin. It’s a book about how the markets for creative labor were rigged, and how artists, fans, tinkerers, regulators and lawmakers can unrig them.

That second part is key: this isn’t just a book complaining about how tough things are for artists — it’s a book about how we can make things better.

There’s an obvious reason that our book’s focus on shovel-ready projects to put more money in artists’ pockets is important: you’d have to be a monster to prefer a world that underpays the writers, musicians, actors, and film and TV creators whose work heartens and delights you.

The cover for the Beacon Press edition of Chokepoint Capitalism.

But there’s another reason that this focus on fixing creative labor markets is so important: because copyright, the primary tool we’ve given creators to give them power over their labor, has actually made things worse.
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