This Week In Techdirt History: April 5th – 11th

from the happy-birthday-anne-and-verizon dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2010, the patent office hired an economist in a move we hoped would help bring some reason to the patent system. Meanwhile, we wondered if you could save software patents with a team of “obviousness” developers, and one IP lawyer was telling people to stop wasting money on patents. We also took a closer look at how bogus patents get approved, and witnessed a patent fight over the Dominos pizza tracker.

Over in the UK, the house of commons hatched a plan to rush through the Digital Economy Bill, and then did just that. One ISP quickly said it would not follow the rules while a member of the UK Musician’s Union (which supported the bill) wrote an excellent open letter about his disappointment. All told, it was a bill proposed by the unelected, debated by the ignorant, and voted on by the absent.

Ten Years Ago

Back in 2005, technology was rapidly changing life in sometimes-unexpected ways. Watchmakers looked on in horror as their once-widespread devices were replaced by smartphones, while plumbers capitalized on a booming new business in retrieving phones from toilets. Online groceries were catching on in NYC, and kids were buying (crappy) homework online. Of course, not all trends were entirely true: Pew admitted that it pumped up the numbers on the prevalence of podcasting, and the creator of the idea of “toothing” (finding sex hookups via Bluetooth) admitted it as all a hoax.

We were already noting the fact that copy protection was not the issue faced by the entertainment industries, and that there were lots of opportunities to sell music the way people want it, especially since sharing music is a cultural thing and the newfound ease of content creation was already making its mark.

Fifteen Years Ago

Let’s all say happy birthday to Verizon, I guess. It was this week in 2000 that Bell Atlantic and GTE announced that, in their merger, they would abandon both brands and operate as the shiny new “Verizon”. Meanwhile, we also learned of another big merger negotiation between BellSouth and SBC.

Also in 2000: the Microsoft antitrust ruling came out, leading some to wonder just how much it meant; Mattel dumped The Learning Company that it had bought only a year before; Dot Coms were struggling to find events to sponsor, while we noticed some were being run by kids who were hiring their parents; it turned out the question of deep linking wasn’t quite closed; and we pointed to an article saying something that has been a guiding principle of Techdirt for a long time: that you need to understand the legal system to understand the goings-on in technology.

Three-Hundred And Five Years Ago

Most of you probably know that basically all modern copyright descends from the Statute of Anne, an early 18th-century British law that created the first ever government-run copyright system. Well, it was on April 5th, 1710 that the bill passed and received royal assent, and the Statute of Anne became law.

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