This Week In Techdirt History

from the prototyping-today dept

Time for another look back through Techdirt history.

Five Years Ago…

This week in 2009, we launched the original Techdirt CwF+RtB offering. It was a set of tiered rewards inspired by the creative experiments we saw so many musicians and other artists trying, and in time it would grow into the Insider Shop of today.

Remember when the Associated Press hatched an ill-fated scheme to DRM the news? Yup, it was only five years ago, even though — as we pointed out the same week — newspapers haven’t truly charged for news in 180 years, and their true fear (that Google was raking in cash off the backs of their content) wasn’t exactly true.

Conversely, the world was starting to realize that YouTube wasn’t the profit-sink many people believed it to be. Of course, not all media companies had figured out how to use it, with Disney using copyright to pull a trailer for its own movie from YouTube in a moment of critically forgetting the point of advertising. And while Disney was shooting its own foot, a growing number of artists were complaining that their labels were shooting their feet for them by taking down all their music videos. Examples like these made it doubly absurd when the director of the Australasian Performing Right Association tried to claim that “without the content industries, the internet would be empty”.

Ten Years Ago…

This week in 2004 was a time of dangerous tech legislation being pushed at every opportunity (not that we ever get much respite from such attempts). On one hand, congress was racing its way through anti-spyrware legislation with little thought given to the true consequences. On the other hand, it was also grappling with the INDUCE Act to outlaw P2P systems, which Sen. Orrin Hatch essentially admitted was wrong, but supported anyway.

AT&T Wireless launched 3G service (under slightly odd circumstances), while pressure from attorneys general convinced all the wireless players to start revealing their coverage maps. Verizon, for its part, was also heavily focused on fiber — and making some claims that raised skeptical eyebrows.

But, perhaps the most plain and drastic change: this week in 2004 we reported on the massive growth of the internet in China, where the number of users had just hit 87-million people. Today that number is 632-million.

Fifteen Years Ago…

Anyone remember the online grocery delivery service Webvan? This week in 1999 it was valued at $4-billion (within only two years, it would be bankrupt and go down as one of the largest dot-com flops in history). And what about online retailer CDNow? This week they sued Lycos over an advertising spat.

This was also the week that Apple launched the very first iBook (the candy-colored clamshell one). On the far opposite end of the scale, Compaq shocked people by selling computers at the low price of $299.

Microsoft decided to enter the instant messaging game in 1999. The hook for their offering was that it could inter-communicate with AOL Messenger users — a feature that AOL wasted no time in blocking.

226 Years Ago…

This week, it’s a milestone in music history: on July 25, 1788, Mozart completed his Symphony No. 40 in G minor. Of course, since it’s now long out of copyright, it’s lost all value and has been almost completely forgotten, left to dwindle in the public domain where proper money-making works go to die. After all, you’ve never ever heard this song, have you?

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History”

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Andyroo says:

Newspapers and websites with paywalls set up!!!!

I use Reddit rather a lot to seek out news stories and read comments and easily make comments myself.Recently I have noticed a lot of sites putting up paywalls, sometimes allowing you to read the first paragraph of a story before popping up an advertisement that covers the text and demand you sign up and pay.

If I was to sign up to every site I visit I would be paying most of my income to websites every week, and all because I want to read a few posts on a website that someone has posted and that sounds interesting.

Luckily I am aware enough that I can do a simple search on the internet and find the story somewhere else and not have to pay, that is if the story is of enough interest to encourage me to give it a few more seconds of my attention.

Sadly there are those that know no better and obviously pay otherwise these pay-walls would disappear, but I wonder if the advertisers understand that a click is not necessarily going to give people the time to actually scroll down enough to see their advertising.

Whatever (profile) says:


Of course, since it’s now long out of copyright, it’s lost all value and has been almost completely forgotten, left to dwindle in the public domain where proper money-making works go to die. After all, you’ve never ever heard this song, have you?

Of course, there is no mention of the hundreds of other pieces of music written around the same time that have long since been forgotten or at best, kept in a small file in some ‘historical society’ back office.

Pointing to exceptional cases and trying to make a point may be cute and funny, but rather less than honest.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: humor

Yes, but the only thing they can copyright and lock up is their performance of the music, not the music itself. If they are playing stuff that is in the public domain, they can’t actually lock up the source material.

If the music is copyright and they are working with permission, the copyright on the original doesn’t get changed by the new release, at least not specifically. It will still fall into the public domain at some point.

It should be said too that taking obscure or ignored music, recording it, and making it available even in a pay only format is still many times more beneficial to the arts than just letting it rot, which is sadly what happens to most works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: humor

Yesterday, I went to a Bad Religion show, those guys have like 17 albums, 5 EP’s and such since they started (1980).

They don’t give a shit about copyright, they all have other jobs, the singer in particular has 3 PhD’s and is a teacher at UCLA,won’t list the others but…

It’s how they manage to have fans in their early 20’s even still, people who know songs from a ’91 album and others from 2008 and other from 83 and sang along with 75% of the crowd who was singing along. Not something many bands can achieve and I seriously doubt many people there, other than themselves and a few diehard possessed all physical copies to their albums, out of a crowd of 8000. In fact the first BR I had was my friend taping me their first one from 83, and their 2 historically big ones from when I was a wee little teen in 96 when he taped me Stranger Than Fiction and The Gray Race. They were on a major label for a short period, when they got really popular out of nowhere, Kurt Cobain had killed anything but alternative rock from the air then, it was a good time for music, but after 2 solid ones on a major, their quality started to decline by the label imposing to them producers they had no affinities at all with.

And here is the key, they went back to their own label (well owned by one of the guitarists). If you are poor and whining about piracy while on a major label (don’t care what kind of music), I scoff at you while adjusting my indie monocole. DIY

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: humor

Actually there are plenty of songs not covered by copyright that are insanely famous. There are also plenty of copyrighted songs that will either fall into oblivion or actually be successful and well-known after their copyright expires and people are free to copy them (thanks to the labels using copyright to lock them up).

or at best, kept in a small file in some ‘historical society’ back office.

And when somebody discovers such song they are free to copy it and bring it back to life.

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