Chokepoint Capitalism


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About the Author

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 (;, as well as Untapped: the Australian Literary Heritage Project ( 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).


‘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.’
*The Guardian*

‘Nerdy, sharp, radical, and readable.’
*Financial Times*

‘Chokepoint Capitalism tells us how the vampires crashed the party, and provides protective garlic.’
*Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale*

‘A welcome intervention.’
*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 Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and Survival of the Richest*

‘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 The Practice*

‘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 The Filter Bubble 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 Don't Look Up and founder of The Lever*

‘[A] lucid and damning exposé 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.’
*Publishers Weekly, 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 Corruption in America and Break ‘Em Up*

‘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 remunerating authors and performers.’
*Jane C. Ginsburg, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law at Columbia University School of Law*

‘Searing, essential, and incredibly readable.’
*Adam Conover, comedian and host of The G-Word*

‘If you have ever wondered why the web feels increasingly stale, Chokepoint Capitalism outlines in great detail how it is being denied fresh air.’
*Mat Dryhurst, artist and researcher at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music*

‘Chokepoint Capitalism is more than a clarion call for a new, necessary form of trustbusting. It’s a grand unified theory of a decades-long, corporate-led hollowing out of creative culture.’
*Andy Greenberg, writer for WIRED and author of Sandworm and Tracers in the Dark*

‘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 chickenised, choked, and cheated.’
*Kaiser Kuo, host and cofounder of The Sinica Podcast*

‘A masterwork … It’s a necessary read for any artist in the entertainment industry.’
*David A. Goodman, writer, executive producer of The Orville, and former president of the WGA West*

‘Every creator will find inspiration here.’
*Anil Dash, CEO of Glitch*

’[T]his is an important and powerful book not least because it crushes the myth of artists as out-of-touch elitists. Rather than painting creatives as different, Giblin and Doctorow emphasise the similarities between the problems they face and those endured by the great bulk of the population at a time when 40 per cent of Americans say they could not find $400 to cover an unexpected expense … If we want change, Giblin and Doctorow say we need to act collectively. That’s true for artists; it’s also true for non-artists … It’s only together that we’ll shake it off.’
*The Saturday Paper*

‘A searing and comprehensive take on the oligopolies that control creative markets, from publishing to music distribution to film distribution.’

‘[Chokepoint Capitalism] is a dark portrait of a cultural system captured by billionaires … [and] helps us start the daunting task of taking back control.’
*The Conversation*

‘Chokepoint Capitalism is the book we need now. Comprehensive and accessible, stirring and enlightening, it is a roadmap for taking immediate action against the corporate chokepoints that are crushing our creative workers and, increasingly, the rest of the middle class as well.’
*The Progressive*

‘Totally readable.’
*The Spinoff*

‘Giblin and Doctorow explain how companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook — and the big publishers — use their anti-competitive market powers to exploit creators, consumers and employees. The authors argue for collective action and minimum wages for creatives as some possible solutions to unblock the “chokepoints”.’
*Justine Hyde, The Saturday Paper Best of 2022*

‘Chokepoint Capitalism offers an admirable antidote to the fiction that our economic systems operate the way they do because that’s how they are, rather than because a few companies managed to take early advantage of new technologies to manipulate those systems for their own benefit. You might not expect to find much hope in a book about the exploitation of people trying to earn a living doing what they love. But Giblin and Doctorow make a convincing case that taking on Big Tech and Big Content — seemingly a lonely and demoralising endeavour — is, in fact, an opportunity for community. Indeed, the fight demands community.’
*The Atlantic*

Praise for Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: ‘Doctorow breaks down the complex issues and tangled arguments surrounding technology, commerce, copyright, intellectual property, crowd funding, privacy and value — not to mention the tricky situation of becoming “Internet Famous.” … Doctorow has spoken and written on these issues many times before but never quite so persuasively. Required reading for creators making their ways through the new world.’
*Kirkus Reviews, starred review*

‘Chokepoint Capitalism is a call to unite and it also highlights other key actions that need to take place to build a future where creative workers get a fair share of the wealth generated by their work.’

Praise for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is black-comedic sci-fi prophecy on the dangers of surrendering our consensual hallucination to the regime. Fun to read, but difficult to sleep afterwards.’
*Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and Survival of the Richest*

Praise for Code Wars: ‘With a combination of acute observation, close analysis and clear-headed honesty, Rebecca Giblin leads the reader to share her conclusion that there is no legislative, judicial, commercial or technical panacea for copyright infringement which P2P software facilitates, but that even now it is not too late to improve the manner in which the rights-owning and distribution sectors address the challenges that P2P poses.’
*Jeremy Phillips, Olswang, and Intellectual Property Institute*

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