Chokepoint Capitalism: how Big Tech and Big Content captured creative labor markets and how we'll win them back

Copyright scholar Rebecca Giblin joins forces with erstwhile Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow to excoriate Big Tech and Big Content—not for the everyday sins of privacy invasion and surveillance but for their cornering of creative labor. Their book, Chokepoint Capitalism [Amazon], out later this month, identifies not just the problem but projects that show the way out of it.

In Chokepoint Capitalism, 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. From Amazon's use of digital rights management and bundling to radically change the economics of book publishing, to Google and Facebook's siphoning away of ad revenues from news media, and the Big Three record labels' use of inordinately long contracts to up their own margins at the cost of artists, chokepoints are everywhere.

By analyzing 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.

Perfectly timed, too: look at all the people who perceive that culture has ground to a halt and know the Internet has something to do with it, but who have only abstruse sociological explanations that don't tell the full story.

Adds Doctorow at Medium:

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.