This Week In Techdirt History: February 1st – 7th

from the predictions-and-foreshadowings dept

Five Years Ago

Before the Hachette fight, Amazon got in a conflict with Macmillan over ebook prices this week in 2010. Authors were mad at Amazon, but some in the industry were beginning to realize that change can be turbulent, but still good. Heck, even Rupert Murdoch’s daughter acknowledged that piracy can be good. This is in stark contrast to the music duo that claimed it would stop selling CDs until all piracy is stopped (though that might have been a joke). Billboard Magazine took a shot at Techdirt directly, decrying our ideas about CwF+RtB, leading us to explain how it still takes effort and commitment.

Definitely not a joke, however, was the Citizens United ruling, which had just come out, leading us to wonder if a corporation could run for public office. Later in the week, a PR company took that idea a step further.

In Australia, iiNet won its lawsuit against movie studios claiming it was responsible for user infringement, and the ruling offered a great explanation of why ISP’s can’t be copyright cops. The industry responded by immediately asking for a government bailout and, of course, this story and this fight were far from over. On the flipside, an Australian court this week also decided that Men At Work’s Down Under did indeed infringe on a decades-old folk song.

Ten Years Ago

Long before Bing, Microsoft made its first attempt at breaching the world of search this week in 2005 with MSN Search. Unlike some other things launched the same week — like Amazon Prime and OnStar as a standard GM feature — it didn’t stick around.

The term “PDA” was in its dying days, with only a handful of people still distinguishing them from smartphones (which some were worried would wear down our thumbs). Video games were exploding beyond the central industry, with fan-made games and mashups getting attention (including attention of the legal variety). Despite regulation, spam didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, perhaps because it was still effective on a shockingly high number of people. And the latest trendy foray into culinary madness was high-tech food.

Also in 2005 this week: the RIAA sued a dead woman with no computer for sharing 700 songs, Google lost a trademark lawsuit over AdWords in France, an accidental button-push almost evacuated Connecticut, and some students cast the future of RFID into question by cracking a bunch of secure chips.

Fifteen Years Ago

There were lots of predictions flying around this week in 2000. The wireless, mobile future was becoming more apparent, and the potential for commerce therein becoming more exciting. That much came true, but so many of the details are off — like how credit cards stick around despite fifteen years of calls for alternatives. Kinda like Usenet, which is anything but mainstream, but also far from dead despite repeated predictions of its doom. And while gaming consoles have indeed evolved into more robust multimedia devices, they haven’t replaced PCs the way some expected.

Also this week in 2000: BMG Germany’s attempt at CD DRM was a disaster, email marketing was going legitimate, Motorola turned its sights on next-generation devices, and Techdirt saw an unexpected and unexplained traffic bump.

Three-Hundred And Seventy-Eight Years Ago

If you’ve studied economics, even casually or in passing, you’ve probably heard of tulip mania — a period of Dutch history in which tulip prices exploded then collapsed. It’s generally presented as the first recorded economic bubble in history, and its lessons are still relevant to economics nearly 400 years later. This week marks the critical days in 1637 when the bubble began to pop — on February 3rd, tulip prices hit their peak, and by the 5th they were on the downturn. Spotty record keeping left a gap in the numbers after the 9th, but by May 1st the market had bottomed out.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: February 1st – 7th”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Speaking of historical economic booms...

During the turn of the 20th century there was a fairly sharp up rise in the demand of oddities by westerns most notably of which is Shrunken Heads. The demand was so incredibly high that underdeveloped countries started massacring one another in order to meet the demands which of course was all done in exchange for firearms…

You know now that I that I think about it, from my perspective, most economic booms are terribly perverse…

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

The “Piracy” Excuse Versus Hanlon’s Razor

You know, it occurs to me, the old adage “never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity” leads inevitably to the conclusion that any business that blames its failures on “piracy” is overwhelmingly likely to be simply overlooking its own incompetence.

Though maybe it’s not doing so deliberately: after all, stupidity knows no bounds…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: The “Piracy” Excuse Versus Hanlon’s Razor

Which do you think would be easier and more likely to come out of the mouth of a company CEO/exec:

A. “Well, our latest sales are lousy, and we’re barely making any money this quarter. After looking into the matter, we’ve determined that the cause is that we just don’t make a good product, and no-one has any interest in buying from us.

If we want to turn this around, we’re going to have to change how we do business, how we market our product, and improve the quality of what we’re selling. This will be difficult, it will be risky if we are’t careful and do our research beforehand, and it will likely require a good amount of money for the required changes, but I believe in the long run it will be in our best interests.”


B. “Well, our latest sales are lousy, and we’re barely making any money this quarter. As we all know, our product and marketing are flawless, paragons of their respective fields. As such, the problem must be coming from an outside source, and after careful consideration over lunch, I have come to the conclusion that every single last problem we are experiencing can be laid at the feet of piracy.

To address this, I propose that we spend a moderate amount to buy a few politicians, and have them pass laws in an ultimately futile effort at stopping piracy. These laws will force everyone but us to act as our own (unpaid) copyright cops, allowing us to sit back and do nothing while they do all the work for us. As an added bonus, these new laws will make it much more difficult for any up and coming company or service to compete with us, enabling us to maintain the control over our product that we have enjoyed to date.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The “Piracy” Excuse Versus Hanlon’s Razor

In this age, I would have say it’s a bit of both. For example, it has become a common practice amongst computer hardware manufactures to use high quality components upon release but after all the reviews by anyone who matters has been done, they’ll downgrade to low quality components without public notification…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The “Piracy” Excuse Versus Hanlon’s Razor


Lobbyist don’t come cheap and the last time I checked, there were over 17,000 headbutting one another in across the nation…

If anything were to be ‘addressed’, it would be passing legislation that effectively outlaws this practice. That alone would curtail 90% of the corruption within our government…

CharlieBrown says:

Super Deluxe Edition

From the attack article from Billboard five years ago: “Yes, artists and labels need to find new, unique products that both better monetize the superfan and draw into the fold more casual ones as well.”

The superfan market is why some of the labels are releasing box sets featuring multiple records and CD’s together in one box, throwing in some merchandise with it then charging seemingly insane amounts for one album.

Examples from the last few years include Pearl Jam “ten”, David Bowie “Station To Station” (3 LP, 4 CD and a DVD in one box?), U2 “Achtung Baby”, Pink Floyd “Dark Side Of The Moon” and Led Zepellin’s first four albums.

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