This Week In Techdirt History

from the who-was-suing-whom? dept

Another week? Another week to look back through Techdirt history.

Five Years Ago::

Oh the lawsuits we witnessed. A sculptor sued the Post Office for featuring his sculpture on a stamp — even though that sculpture was a part of the Korean War Memorial in DC. The amazing thing was the sculptor eventually won the lawsuit. To this day I don’t get it. I can’t see how (a) no one bothered to get the rights from the guy in the first place and (b) how this wasn’t fair use. Speaking of nutty legal situations, this was also the week that Kevin Cogill, the guy who uploaded (but did not initially leak) Guns ‘N Roses long-awaited album was sentenced to 2 months house arrest and told to produce propaganda for the RIAA — something he never actually had to do, leading to him telling the full story of his crazy situation earlier this year.

This week the National Portrait Gallery in the UK threatened someone at Wikipedia for downloading public domain images. A filmmaker sued some online forums because commenters cost him a job and Wells Fargo sued itself.

Meanwhile, Amazon had made the book 1984 disappear from people’s Kindles, a Swedish ISP was refusing to give up IP addresses and (in a twist) Belgium was fining Yahoo for protecting the privacy of its US users.

Finally, we were writing about artists who were refusing copyright as against their religious beliefs, journalists demanding money from Google, songwriters insisting that they can’t write songs without copyright and newspapers still believing that paywalls would solve all their troubles.

Ten Years Ago:

The RIAA was busy a decade ago. Not only were they pushing the “INDUCE” Act to try to make inducing copyright infringement a form of copyright infringement (Congress never passed it, but the Supreme Court effectively created an inducement standard soon after), but they were also busy pushing Audible Magic’s filtering system as the precursor to ContentID. In fact, most non-YouTube sites still make use of Audible Magic. Meanwhile, Streamcast was accusing the record labels of collusion (some things never change).

Microsoft won $4 million from a spammer, Cameron Diaz was sending legal threats to Gawker and we were just figuring out how to use mobile phones on planes. Just in time, too, because 3G mobile services were just starting to show up.

Fifteen Years Ago:

Oh those dot com boom days. Microsoft became the first company to be worth over $500 billion. They’re well below that today. Petopia — one of a big list of “pet dot coms” raised $66 million despite not having launched yet. Network Solutions randomly transferred’s domain to some dude in Illinois. Other than pet dot coms, the most overhyped thing in that time was “free PC” companies who would offer you free (but really crappy and underpowered) computers if you let them put ads all over the screen. Except… all of those companies were failing to make any money.

Meanwhile, Virgin was trying to get ahead of the digital music world by allowing you to download music and burn it to a CD (what a concept!). In one of our earliest stories about patent lawsuits, Ask Jeeves was being sued for infringement and we noted with disgust that it was by a company that didn’t appear to actually do anything, but just try to sue people. This was before the term “patent troll” was popular. Those were the early days of patent trolling though.

46 Years Ago:

We weren’t around, but this week Intel was founded, after Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove split from Fairchild Semiconductor (which Noyce, Moore and six others had started as the “traitorous eight” after quitting Shockley Semiconductor as a group). Intel, of course, became a key player in the computer revolution, but the story of the company’s founding is also an important Silicon Valley lesson in the nature of people who aren’t happy with their current jobs jumping ship to start something new. So much of Silicon Valley history is based on stories like that.

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