A call to action for the creative class and labor movement to rally against the power of Big Tech and Big Media

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Product Code: 3178
ISBN: 9780807007068
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Published Date: 09/20/2022
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Price: $24.95

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.

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.

In the book’s second half, Giblin and Doctorow then 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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Contents

Part 1: Culture has been captured
1. Chokepoint capitalism
2. How Amazon Took Over Books
3. How News Got Broken
4. Why Prince Changed His Name
5. Why Streaming Doesn’t Pay
6. Why Spotify Wants You to Rely on Playlists
7. What the US Shares With Rwanda, Iran, and North Korea
8. How Live Nation Chickenized Live Music
9. Why 7000 Hollywood Writers Fired Their Agents
10. Why Fortnite Sued Apple
11. YouTube: Baking Chokepoints In

Part 2: Braking Anti-Competitive Flywheels
13. Transparency Rights
14. Collective Action
15. Time Limits on Copyright Contracts
16. Radical Interoperability
17. Minimum Wages for Creative Work
18. Collective Ownership
19. Uniting Against Chokepoint Capitalism

Shattering chokepoints

"If you’re halfway through this book and aren’t boiling mad over the way contemporary capitalism has deformed and crippled culture, get your head checked. Chokepoint Capitalism is a Why We Fight for a long-overdue uprising. Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow lay out their case in plain and powerful prose, offering a grand tour of the blighted cultural landscape and how our arts and artists have been chickenized, choked, and cheated. But it’s more than just a call to arms; it also provides a plan of battle with inspired strategy and actual tactics—ways that we can all channel that anger and make real change." —Kaiser Kuo, host and cofounder of The Sinica Podcast

"Twenty years of internet copyright wars got us nowhere—creators are still getting the shaft. 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

"Creators are being ground up by the modern culture industries, with little choice but to participate in markets that weaken their power and economic return. In this brilliant and wide-ranging work, 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, Harvard Law School

"I loved this book. It brings a clear and rigorous vision of the chokepoint controls that are breaking our spirit and an equally clear path forward. It speaks directly to creators, would-be artists, writers, and musicians, and all who want a free society alive with culture, dissent, creativity. It helps us all see the locks and chains, and the ways to chisel through them." —Zephyr Teachout, law professor and author of Corruption in America and Break ‘Em Up

"This compellingly readable indictment shows how ‘consumer welfare’ regulatory theory has allowed Big Tech to choke creators and diminish choice. Giblin and Doctorow demonstrate that the goal to lower consumer costs means ‘you get what you pay for’: paying less for cultural goods leads to getting fewer creative outputs and enterprises. Chokepoint Capitalism couples its legal-economic critique with provocative, sometimes utopian, prescriptions for fairly remunerating authors and performers." —Jane C. Ginsburg, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law, Columbia University School of Law

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