This Week In Techdirt History: July 19th – 25th

from the a-type-of-type dept

Five Years Ago

The copyright world was still full of activity this week in 2010. A bizarre lawsuit against Scribd, claiming the company’s copyright filters were themselves infringing, was dropped; a Dutch court ruled (again) that the Pirate Bay must block Dutch users, while the Swedish Pirate Party launched the Pirate ISP; US Copyright Group filed more lawsuits in its copyright shakedown campaign, while more porn companies were getting in on the same game and Perfect 10 was trying its own brand of copyright insanity in Canada and RightHaven was ramping up its own now-infamous trolling. The entertainment industry was still trying (and failing) to make DRM not suck, the BSA was using totally made-up stats to try to change African copyright laws, Homeland Security was still aggressively conflating copyright infringement with counterfeiting, and IP Czar Victoria Espinel was playing the “blame China” card.

On the flipside, Deutsche Bank was suggesting it’s time to rethink copyright and the Telegraph in the UK was suggesting record labels should give all their music away as free MP3s. RapidShare was vindicated by a German court, while an appeals court in the US was explaining to some documentary filmmakers that you can’t copyright facts. And since it’s admittedly fun to see copyright abuse fail, we got two entertaining stories when the designer leading the charge for fashion copyright was caught copying designs, and a Canadian copyright lawsuit seeking $27-million in damages ended with an award of $500.

There was a big non-copyright victory too: the Senate passed its bill against “libel tourism”, moving towards protecting Americans from a particularly pernicious infringement on their free speech.

Ten Years Ago

Five years before that, this week in 2005 we met the first US piracy czar. Ringtone sellers were freaking out about online “shoplifters” while a fear of piracy was preventing the creation of Harry Potter e-books (and spurring the creation of homebrew versions). The Associated Press was happily misrepresenting BitTorrent while the RIAA and MPAA were trying to get California schools to do their dirty work. Up in Canada, the National Gallery was demonstrating that it did not understand the public domain, while film festival organizers in Edinburgh were adopting Hollywood-style bans on mobile phones. The stupidity and inefficacy of all these things was unimportant: the entertainment industry just believes what it wants to believe.

Apparently in 2005, you could still take a stance against mobile phones as a whole, on the basis that they could be used as terrorism tools — though a quick look at how much teens and young adults loved their phones should have put that to bed as a realistic position. Of course, far more popular was concern over violence and sex in video games, the hype of which led Grand Theft Auto to get bumped up from an M rating to “Adults Only”.

Fifteen Years Ago

Silicon Valley was still in a state of flux this week in 2000. People noted that VCs were hit by the dot-com bubble in their own way alongside entrepreneurs, people were making wildly different predictions about the future of Webvan (turns out the dark ones were correct), and Steve Ballmer was suggesting dot-coms are still overvalued and overfunded (with perhaps not entirely pure motives).

In a surprising shift in the 2000-internet landscape, CNET bought ZDNET for $1.6-billion (only $0.2-billion less than CBS would buy it for eight years later), and some wondered how this would impact the journalism. Online advertising, at least, appeared to be working and the wireless web was slowly but surely starting to make some sense. The phenomenon of texting was still fresh, as were sneaky phishing scams.

Also, I’d entirely forgotten about the existence of this machine, but it was this week in 2000 that Apple introduced the G4 Cube. It was an utter flop, and Macworld has a great look at the still-ongoing debate about why.

One-Hundred And Eighty-Six Years Ago

Before there were typewriters, there were “typographers” — the cumbersome forerunners that date all the way back to the early 19th century. Though the details of the first known example — an 1808 Italian machine — are mostly lost, it was on July 23rd, 1829 that the first American “typographer” machine was granted a patent. It was invented by William Austin Burt, and would later come to be retroactively known as a typewriter as that word gained popularity.

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