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

from the things-change dept

Five Years Ago

First, one of the most notable events of this week in 2010: a proposal started making the rounds in the EU, calling for a newly conceived right to be forgotten. What ever happened with that?

Meanwhile, we saw plenty of copyright clashes: a reality show was sued for copying its premise from another show (shocking!), a YouTube star was silenced because apparently parody isn’t fair use, and online radio was being stymied across the board by the DMCA. At least it was nice to see the librarians of Brazil state that copyright is a fear-based reaction to open knowledge, while Lawrence Lessig was pointing out to the WIPO that copyright was not designed for an age when every use is a copy.

In the world of patents, we were surprised to see the DOJ come out against isolated gene patents (which did not make the USPTO very happy at all). But there was still plenty of room for patent abuse, what with the chief CAFC judge ignoring the negative side of patents and Colgate trying to patent a traditional tooth-cleaning powder that was thousands of years old.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2005 was when the tech world was rocked by the Sony rootkit scandal. First, the nefarious copy protection scheme on Sony CDs was discovered, sparking off a firestorm of reaction. Then it became clear that the rootkit opened up a huge security hole that others could piggyback on. Then some people noticed that other companies were doing similar things. Sony promised to “fix” the problem, but not by actually letting you uninstall the “copy protection”, and then people noticed that the patch contained a bunch of other questionable stuff, and sometimes crashed Windows. Nobody was impressed, and the fallout plagues Sony to this day, deservedly so. You’d think this might put a damper on the entertainment industry’s enthusiasm for DRM, but of course this was the same week Hollywood started seeking to plug the “analog hole” (though thankfully Congress didn’t seem very interested).

Fifteen Years Ago

There was plenty of the usual 2000 stuff this week: dot-coms may or may not have been failing, tech incubators were struggling, spam was everywhere, much like tech conferences, and so on… But the most interesting tidbit is one that reminds us of something it’s often easy to forget: copyright was not always a central topic of Techdirt, and the blog was not an ongoing participant in that debate. Thus, when the Copyright Office announced its support of a law to prevent the circumvention of copy protection, Mike noted that “I don’t follow this stuff as closely as many people do” and made only a simple comment about how anti-circumvention seems nonsensical from a security point of view. Oh how things have changed!

Forty-Seven Years Ago

Around here, we mostly talk about the MPAA for its ongoing Sisyphean war against piracy — but to most people, it’s best known for the voluntary rating system on movies (which has its own host of problems). Well, it was on November 1st, 1968 that the voluntary ratings came into effect, replacing the Hays Code (which also had its own host of other problems, but that’s another story).

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