Chokepoint Capitalism

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UPC: 9780807007068
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Authors: Rebecca Giblin (Author), Cory Doctorow (Author)

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beacon Press (September 27, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0807007064
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0807007068
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.31 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.22 x 1.1 x 9.26 inches


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.

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] deliver a lucid and damning exposé of how big business captured the culture markets.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who senses that the predominant economic mythology is a lie…and who is ready to finally start fixing the problem."
—David Sirota, writer of 
Don't Look Up and founder of The Lever
“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
“Are you a writer, a musician, an artist? Is Big Tech eating your brain and sucking your financial blood?...
Chokepoint Capitalism tells us how the vampires crashed the party and provides protective garlic.”
—Margaret Atwood, author of 
The Handmaid’s Tale
“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, 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, Columbia University School of Law
“Searing, essential, and incredibly readable.”
—Adam Conover, comedian and host of 
The G-Word
"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
“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, 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

"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."
—Eli Pariser, author of 
The Filter Bubble and cofounder of Avaaz
“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.”
—Kaiser Kuo, host and cofounder of 
The Sinica Podcast
“Every creator will find inspiration here.”
—Anil Dash, CEO of Glitch
“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

“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 Author

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 (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 advisor 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).