This Week In Techdirt History
from the looking-back dept
Five Years Ago
Patents, patents and more patents were in the news. It was getting so crazy that even Dilbert was trying to tackle the issue. IBM was trying to convince the world that patent protection was the key to open source software (ha ha). Intel founder Andy Grove was promoting a use it or lose it provision for patents, while Ben Goldacre was highlighting how much harm pharma patents had done. And because who doesn’t love a story about an absolutely ridiculous patent, we had one about someone claiming to have patented adding a .com to the end of an address bar (the company was demanding millions from every browser maker).
On the copyright front, we were looking at how performance rights groups like ASCAP helped funnel money from smaller artists to big artists. Hollywood was out there trying to kill another innovation as it took on the nefarious Redbox. The UK government took a study with just 136 individuals (who all self-reported) and used it to conclude there were 7 million illegal file sharers in the UK. The recording industry in Japan was trying to get the Japanese government to break your phone if you listened to unauthorized music. And the geniuses at Forrester were telling the music industry to copy the movie industry’s awful “windowing” technique and release music in different formats in different stages (a recipe guaranteed to increase piracy rates).
On the journalism beat, one newspaper was saying that it wouldn’t cover political candidates unless they bought ads while some out of touch NY Times guy was whining about people who thought Twitter was a new front for journalism.
Finally, Glenn Beck might not have raped and murdered a girl in 1990, but he sure wanted to do everything possible to stop people from asking if he had. On the flip side, filmmaker/story teller/cool guy Kevin Smith was still awesome about the internet and questions concerning copyright (speaking of Smith, if you haven’t followed the story of how he ended up making his latest movie, Tusk, you’ve missed out on one great story about connecting with fans). Oh, and we went way, way, way back to 1773 to look at an important legal decision detailing why copyright is not property.
Ten Years Ago
Two rather important legal cases were decided this week ten years ago — one good, one bad. First, the hugely important ruling in CDT v. Pappert, which dumped a bad law in Pennsylvania that required ISPs to filter out porn. The second was the Bridgeport v. Dimension Films appeal, which we were just talking about yesterday, in which a court ruled “get a license or do not sample” and further claimed of such a requirement “we do not see this as stifling creativity in any way.” Perhaps because the appeals court judges weren’t even remotely creative themselves.
In a weird bit of worlds colliding, the RIAA got sued for patent infringement by Altnet, the quite odd patent trolling/adware company that tried to make a “business” out of file sharing. It claimed that the RIAA’s hashing technique for identifying songs being shared violated its patent. Meanwhile, DVR makers TiVo and Replay each agreed to make their products suck a little more by adding some DRM to appease an angry Hollywood. Congress, at the RIAA’s request, was trying to make it a criminal offense if you shared 1,000 or more works. A Japanese newspaper was mad at Google News for “infringing” on its headlines (or so the newspaper claimed).
Finally, in a bit of perceptiveness, ten years ago we wondered whether there would be distributed backup services in the future (yup), whether the concept of area codes would matter any more thanks to mobile phones and VoIP (not so much), and we wrote about people speculating how five innovative companies in 2004 would be able to survive a bunch of new competitors in the space. The list of companies? Netflix, TiVo, PalmSource, RIM and Vonage. While most of them are still around in one form or another, I think the only one people can safely say really maintained its innovative dominance has to be Netflix. The world changes quickly in technology.
Fifteen Years Ago:
We reported on rumors that Microsoft was working on a standalone game console two years before the Xbox was announced. We wondered if teenagers would be the wireless customers of tomorrow (yup) and were excited about a (wait for it…) CD player that would play MP3s.
The “free internet access” boom was in full swing with WorldSpy jumping into the space with a big differentiator. Unlike all its competitors, it wouldn’t bombard you with ads. It just hoped that you’d be so happy with the free internet access, you’d go to its website and buy stuff. Don’t think that ended up working out so well. And, yes, fifteen years ago, people were still writing idiotic articles saying that open source was “communism.”
Fifty-Eight Years Ago:
We weren’t publishing yet, but IBM shipped the first IBM 305 RAMAC, the first computer with a moving-head hard disk. You could lease one for just $3,200 a month (in 1957 dollars!)