A Look Back In Techdirt History

from the learning-from-history dept

For the most part, people seemed to like the idea of doing a weekly look back in history to take a glance at what we were writing about on Techdirt five, ten and fifteen years ago, so let’s keep it up.

Five years ago:

Once again, there were some similar stories to what we see in the news today — including China blocking YouTube (and, yes, exactly five years later, Turkey has decided to do the same). And back then, the USTR was promising to review its transparency policies after complaints about secrecy concerning ACTA. Tragically, the USTR still remains entirely secretive. We also had media giants demanding the right to edit Google’s search results (something the company eventually gave in to, somewhat) and the story of the UK’s PRS threatening a woman for playing music to a horse without paying a licensing fee. But my favorite may have been a post on how remixing is creative and original, using the wonderful example of Kutiman — still one of my absolute favorite examples of the power of remixing. If you’ve never seen the video below, watch it now. If you have seen it, watch it again.

Ten Years Ago:

This was the week ten years ago that the MPAA’s Jack Valenti announced he was retiring. We had hoped that his replacement might be more forward looking, but ten years and two MPAA bosses later, we’re still waiting. Meanwhile, it was still the early days of the RIAA’s disastrous attempt at suing fans for file sharing. On the broadband side, this was the week that the Supreme Court came to an unfortunate decision in Missouri Municipal League v. Nixon, which confirmed that bans on municipal broadband were legal. This is very much top of mind these days, as many people have been noting that such bans may be a key feature in the demise of net neutrality — and getting rid of them could help drive competition. This same week, then President Bush talked up why he hoped for universal, affordable broadband access by 2007. That didn’t happen. Of course, it might have been a lot closer if there weren’t so many municipal broadband bans. And finally, on the absurdist tip, we had a story about a company that claimed a patent on subdomains and a spammer who insisted that anti-spam law CAN SPAM required people to accept his spam rather than filter it out. That lawsuit didn’t go very far.

Fifteen Years Ago:

This was the week that the Cluetrain manifesto came out. I actually wasn’t that impressed at the time. However, realizing that it’s now fifteen years old just makes me feel… old. People were just starting to figure out security online, as it was realized that you could look up the social security numbers of the wealthy via the SEC’s EDGAR database. In 1999 airlines just started realizing that it probably made sense to let people buy tickets off their own websites. And… we have our first sighting of the RIAA blaming MP3s for the decline and fall of the music business. Some things never change.

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Comments on “A Look Back In Techdirt History”

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zip says:

RIAA Chutzpah

re: 1999 – RIAA Blaming MP3 For Dwindling Music Sales Among Teenagers.

That’s hilarious when you read it now. 1999 was the record industry’s best sales year ever, a pinnacle reached after a decade of yearly double-digit growth, largely fueled by selling the same content twice over, as consumers replaced their old LP and cassette tape collections with CDs.

And yet the RIAA propagandists were complaining about “poor” sales in a record-setting year, as they tried their very best to exterminate digital music — which is now the industry’s largest revenue source.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: RIAA Chutzpah

It’s not too surprising, the *AA’s and their members seem to have a bounty for Golden Geese, and they all do everything they can to kill them as they appear.

The fact that the few ‘geese’ that survive almost always end up being massive boons to them(assuming they make it through the ‘gauntlet’ mostly intact), making them a ton of money, never seems to really catch on in their thick skulls.

David Kahane says:

The Pitch

This was the week ten years ago that the MPAA’s Jack Valenti announced he was retiring.

Thanks so much for agreeing to see me, Mr. Mill. Okay, I have this idea: it’s like The Player meets Zodiac.

It’s 1982 and a string of Hollywood producers are being killed by an unknown assailant. The head of the MPAA, Jack Valenti, asks FBI profiler Robert Ressler to be brought in.

Ressler is haunted by an old case he worked on in which a suspect confessed to the crime and later died in prison. Ressler believes the suspect was innocent and that the real killer may still be on the loose. Due to similarities in the MO, Ressler comes to believe the killer in the current case may be the same individual who committed the previous crimes or, at the very least, a copycat. He shares these suspicions with Valenti.

We see the victims talking on the phone, acting like typical asshole producers (no offense), hanging up, maybe fixing themselves drinks, then a loop of power cord descending to choke them to death.

The climax comes when Ressler finds out the horrifying truth about who the killer really is and who is to be the next victim. As we see Ressler frantically driving along the dirty L.A. streets we cut to Jack Valenti talking on the phone, with the television on in front of him.

Valenti says, “No, I think the hearing went well. If not, the Supreme Court has to side with us. I mean, it’s just common fucking sense. No, I’m about to watch the footage now. Okay. We’ll do lunch next week. Bye.”

He hangs up and then mutters, “Stupid piece of shit.” Just then footage of his congressional testimony comes on.

Watching himself, he says, “Goddamn, I’m one smooth motherfucker.” Just then a loop of power cord drops down over his face and the killer begins to choke him to death.

During the struggle, Valenti stumbles forward and accidentally hits the volume knob on the TV. Now the only thing we can hear is Valenti’s testimony blaring from the speakers.

We hear Valenti testify, “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” Then the reveal comes. We cut to the killer, who is, get this, a VCR!

Ressler, with gun drawn, kicks down the door but it’s too late: Valenti is dead and the killer is gone. Ressler screams, “Nooooooo!” then drops to his knees sobbing. “Not again,” he says, “not again.” He ponders his gun for a moment, sees his miserable reflection in a nearby mirror, looks at his gun again, then back at his reflection. Bam! Credits roll.

This is oscar material, Mr. Mill, oscar material.

Mr. Mill says:

Re: The Pitch

You’ll need a couple of subplots – maybe VCR was beat up on by his old man Victrola, or maybe show the degradation of VCR from elite editing tool to having slobs recording Thighmaster commercials and watching them over and over again – the whole motivation thing.

And you’ll need the pretty-but-fearsomely-competent DA scoffing, “Technology doesn’t kill people, Ressler. People kill people.” Or some other cliche that pretty-but-fearsomely-comepetent DAs would mutter.

Now sign this contract allowing me to steal your ideas and get the hell out of my office.

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