This Week In Techdirt History: January 4 – 10th
from the history-repeating-itself dept
Five Years Ago:
Bono thought that Chinese internet censorship was a good example of how the US should deal with music piracy. Viacom was in the thick of its lawsuit with YouTube, asking the court of summary judgment, but redacting nearly the entire argument because apparently the reasons were secret. Sony Pictures was refusing to send out some screener DVDs to promote its own films for the Oscars, because it was worried about piracy. A Finnish indie label claimed that it wouldn’t sign any new bands unless the government magically stopped piracy. After that got some attention the company deleted that statement, and appears to still be releasing music. An analysis of the impact of the leak of the Wolverine film suggested that the leak may have actually helped at the box office. We were, once again, pointing out how there’s basically no punishment for filing bogus DMCA claims — and this was in the days before millions were sent every few days.
France was looking to put in place a right to forget law, while also floating an idea to just tax internet companies to fund record labels. France really, really hates the internet, huh? Meanwhile there was a good proposal in the UK to require copyright holders to have to demonstrate actual damages from infringement (unfortunately, that didn’t go anywhere). UFC announced that it was going to sue individual downloaders even though the company knew that the cost of suing was more than any “loss.” Speaking of copyright infringement, we wondered how some people could argue that inline linking was infringement, seeing as it’s little different than deeplinking, which is legal. Of course, this fight lives on today over embedding. Meanwhile, in Singapore, remote DVRs were declared infringing, the opposite of the Cablevision case in the US.
Some guy sued his neighbors for refusing to turn off their WiFi. The FCC’s very first attempt at net neutrality rules weren’t faring well in court (just like the second ones, though hopefully they get it right the third time). We were rightly predicting that there was a coming fight between cable TV and the internet. Chris Dixon wrote a great piece talking about how the next big thing will start out looking like a toy — something that I often still reference today. We discussed how, for all the promise of the Obama administration being the first “internet” Presidential administration, the reality was that once elected, the administration basically gave up on the public that helped it get elected. Cisco was realizing that patenting everything was a waste of time.
Ten Years Ago:
As you may have heard, ten years ago I uttered the phrase “the Streisand Effect” for the first time, and that may be the most popular thing I’ve ever done. Yet another court told the RIAA that it can’t subpoena info on downloaders without first filing a lawsuit (something some copyright trolls still don’t believe). In response, the BSA asked Congress to change the law to force ISPs to hand over info (thankfully, that didn’t happen). Someone conducted a whole study to point out that the entertainment industry was worried about file sharing.
Bill Gates argued that people trying to reform copyright laws to make them less draconian were just Communists, because, apparently, he understands neither the economics of intellectual property, nor Communism. An appeals court panel ruled that ESPN could, in fact, call Evel Knievel a “pimp” (in response, Knievel called the judges “bimbos.”). We were already pointing out problems with red light cameras. A law professor “with three doctorates” fell for a Nigerian scam.
Fifteen Years Ago:
This was the week that AOL announced it was buying Time Warner, and the entire internet landscape shifted. But not necessarily in a good way (though I still argue the idea was sound, the execution was dreadful). Fifteen years ago, Steve Jobs also dropped the “interim” part of his “interim CEO” title that he’d taken upon his return to Apple. With the failure of any doom and gloom scenarios post Y2K, some were angry at those who predicted the end of the world. Meanwhile, the SF Chronicle was predicting what would happen if tech stocks crashed (which they did 3 months later).
There was some discussion about the idea of using GPS to automatically slow down cars that were speeding (bad idea). I was excited about MP3 watches at CES (I even had one for a few years, and it was great).
One Hundred And Twenty One Years Ago:
A 47-frame film of Fred Ott sneezing, created by WK Dickson (working for Thomas Edison), was filmed and given a copyright, making it “the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture” thus kicking off the movie industry’s over-infatuation with copyright that lives on to this day.