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Paying the Land
how big tech and big content captured creative labour markets, and how we'll win them back139
A FINANCIAL TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR A call to action for the creative class and labour movement to rally against the power of Big Tech and Big Media. Corporate concentration has breached the stratosphere, as have corporate profits. An ever-expanding constellation of industries are now monopolies (where sellers have excessive power over buyers) or monopsonies (where buyers hold the whip hand over sellers) - or both. Scholar Rebecca Giblin and writer and activist Cory Doctorow argue we're in a new era of 'chokepoint capitalism', with exploitative businesses creating insurmountable barriers to competition that enable them to capture value that should rightfully go to others. All workers are weakened by this, but the problem is especially well illustrated by the plight of creative workers. By analysing book publishing and news, live music and music streaming, screenwriting, radio, and more, Giblin and Doctorow deftly show how powerful corporations construct 'anti-competitive flywheels' designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants, and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices. In the book's second half, Giblin and Doctorow explain how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work. Chokepoint Capitalism is a call to workers of all sectors to unite to help smash these chokepoints and take back the power and profit that's being heisted away - before it's too late.
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'Provocative ... What makes this book so refreshing is that it never lets its reader off the hook ... I see it as a kind of manual that will arm you with the technical knowhow (and the confidence) to demand more.' -- Kitty Drake * The Guardian * 'Nerdy, sharp, radical, and readable.' -- Tim Harford * Financial Times * 'Chokepoint Capitalism tells us how the vampires crashed the party, and provides protective garlic.' -- Margaret Atwood, author of <em>The Handmaid's Tale</em> 'A welcome intervention.' -- Oscar Williams * New Statesman * 'We all know something is wrong about every click, stream, and purchase we make - unfairly depriving value creators of their worth, while enriching the wealthiest and most extractive entities in human history. Instead of just complaining about the corporate stranglehold over production and exchange, Giblin and Doctorow show us why this happened, how it works, and what we can do about it. An infuriating yet inspiring call to collective action.' -- Douglas Rushkoff, author of <i>Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus</i> and <i>Survival of the Richest</i> 'An urgent, profound, and approachable take on what it's going to take to save our culture. If you care about books, movies, or music, read this book right now. And share a copy with a friend.' -- Seth Godin, author of <i>The Practice</i> 'Chokepoint Capitalism is not just a fascinating tour of the hidden mechanics of the platform era, from Spotify playlists to Prince's name change, but a compelling agenda to break Big Tech's hold. It presents a clear new way to think about corporate power - and a path to taking that power back for cultural creators and all of us.' -- Eli Pariser, author of <i>The Filter Bubble</i> and cofounder of Avaaz 'The great myth of the American economy is that it rewards creators and producers. But Chokepoint Capitalism dares to tell the real story of how it actually rewards the all-powerful middlemen fleecing both workers and consumers. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who senses that the predominant economic mythology is a lie, who wants to know what's really happening in this economy - and who is ready to finally start fixing the problem.' -- David Sirota, writer of <i>Don't Look Up</i> and founder of The Lever '[A] lucid and damning expose of how big business captured the culture markets ... Interwoven with maddening tales of exploitation are detailed discussions of statutory licensing reform, copyright infringement detection systems, and other technical matters ... The book's broad scope, expert policy recommendations, and flashes of wit make it a must-read for anyone involved in these industries.' -- <i>Publishers Weekly</i>, starred review Giblin and Doctorow persuasively argue that copyright can't unrig a rigged market - for that you need worker power, antitrust, and solidarity.' -- Jimmy Wales, cofounder of Wikipedia 'I loved this book ... It helps us all see the locks and chains, and the ways to chisel through them.' -- Zephyr Teachout, law professor and author of <em>Corruption in America</em> and <em>Break 'Em Up</em> 'Creators are being ground up by the modern culture industries, with little choice but to participate in markets ... Giblin and Doctorow show why, and offer a range of powerful strategies for fighting back.' -- Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School 'Capitalism doesn't work without competition. Giblin and Doctorow impressively show the extent to which that's been lost throughout the creative industries, and how this pattern threatens every other worker.' -- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist 'A tome for the times ... The revolution will not be spotified!' -- Christopher Coe, artist and cofounder of Awesome Soundwave 'Chokepoint Capitalism couples its legal-economic critique with provocative, sometimes utopian, prescriptions for fairly r
Rebecca Giblin is an ARC Future Fellow and professor at Melbourne Law School, where she leads interdisciplinary teams researching issues around creators' rights, access to knowledge, and the regulation of technology and culture. She is director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA), and heads up the Author's Interest and eLending projects (authorsinterest.org; elendingproject.org), as well as Untapped: the Australian Literary Heritage Project (untapped.org.au). Chokepoint Capitalism is her latest book. She also wrote Code Wars and co-edited What if we could reimagine copyright?. Follow her on Twitter (@rgibli) Cory Doctorow is a bestselling science fiction writer and activist. He is a special adviser to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with whom he has worked for 20 years. He is also a visiting professor of computer science at the Open University (UK) and of library science at the University of North Carolina. He is also a MIT Media Lab research affiliate. He co-founded the UK Open Rights Group and co-owns the website Boing Boing. He is the author of more than 20 books, including novels for adults and young adults, graphic novels for middle-grade readers, picture books, nonfiction books on technology and politics, and collections of essays. Follow him on Twitter (@doctorow).