by Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow
A call to action for the creative class and labor 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.
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.
"Giblin and Doctorow make a convincing case that taking on Big Tech and Big Content--seemingly a lonely and demoralizing endeavor--is, in fact, an opportunity for community." -- The Atlantic
"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
"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, author of Break 'Em Up
"An infuriating yet inspiring call to collective action." -- Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and Survival of the Richest
About the Authors:
Rebecca Giblin (she/her) 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 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?.
Cory Doctorow is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Locus, and many other publications. He is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an MIT Media Lab Research Associate and a visiting professor of Computer Science at the Open University. His award-winning novel Little Brother and its sequel Homeland were New York Times bestsellers. His novella collection Radicalized was a CBC Best Fiction of 2019 selection. Born and raised in Canada, he lives in Los Angeles.