This Week In Techdirt History: September 20th – 26th

from the from-broadsheets-to-broadband dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2010, we saw lots of people trying to manipulate existing laws to their advantage, and lots of others trying to get new laws in place. The ISP Suddenlink rolled out a homegrown three-strikes policy and claimed the DMCA required it, while Intel was threatening to weaponize the DMCA against anyone who used a readily-available HDCP crack. The MPAA was exploring the possibility of using ACTA to get broad censorship powers, while some senators were proposing a bill that would let the Justice Department censor “pirate sites” worldwide, even while one among them was aggressively opposing internet censorship by other countries and President Obama was speaking out against online censorship in general. Amidst this, we took a look at the serious due process concerns with such censorship.

In an early prototype to the Aereo battle, Seattle company ivi was trying out its own broadcast-TV-online service, and facing opposition. Some creators were at least trying to embrace online distribution, with a group of Swedish filmmakers releasing their movie in theaters and on the Pirate Bay at the same time and Richard Dawkins pointing a fan to the Pirate Bay as a source for his new documentary.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2005, people were asking the big perennial digital question: does technology make us smarter? (Short answer: not really.) On the flipside, some were looking at the effects of technology withdrawal. Google was being accused of “dumbing down” its search by making it smarter and easier to use (but was also busy being sued by the Author’s Guild over its book scanning project).

Grokster was pretty freaked out by the recent Supreme Court ruling against it and hoping to sell out to a “legit” file sharing service, while Hollywood was gearing up to waste millions of dollars trying to develop better copy protection — which felt a lot like Hollywood calling its own bluff. The IFPI released some malware that deletes file-sharing applications, while at least one judge smartly recognized that the RIAA can’t sue parents for stuff their kids do online. But perhaps they could be blamed for buying their kids banned video games and demonstrating to the people of New Zealand how futile such bans are.

Fifteen Years Ago

Of course, by 2005 it should have been obvious that the anti-file-sharing crusade was futile: this same week in 2000 Bill Gurley was underlining how utterly impossible it is to stop sharing, while sharing gets easier and easier and Forrester was reporting on how all these lawsuits are a waste of time. The Rio was fresh off its copyright victory against the RIAA, but that victory was starting to look Pyrrhic.

As for new and emerging technologies, we saw plenty of interesting things: glow-in-the-dark rabbits made with jellyfish DNA, the coming age of robots, and the earliest rumbles of in-flight WiFi. Ray Kurzweil was making some very optimistic predictions about the future, while some non-profit groups were running aggressive anti-technology media campaigns. Overall, we were trying to determine the internet’s impact on all sorts of things, from mom and pop shops to economic theory as a whole.

Three-Hundred And Twenty-Five Years Ago

The history of American newspapers starts with single-page broadsheets, but it was on September 25th, 1690 that they took a step towards a major evolution with the release of the first multi-page newspaper published in the Americas. It came out of Boston and had a gloriously dated name: Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick.

It was supposed to be published monthly “or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener” — but British colonial authorities shut it down only four days later. Or, in their words, they did “hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.”

(Yes, even censorship orders sound cooler in 17th-century English.)

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