This Week In Techdirt History: November 8th – 14th

from the long-strange-trip dept

Five Years Ago

Let’s start out on the patent front. This week in 2010, the USPTO issued new guidelines that made it harder to reject patents for obviousness, while MIT’s tech review disappointingly came out in favor of patent trolls. Microsoft and Motorola got entangled in a full-scale patent war, while patents intersected with actual war when South Korea tried to use them to stop North Korea from copying its uniforms. Facebook also filed its first patent lawsuit — a countersuit against a patent aggressor.

Meanwhile, in the game of piracy whac-a-mole, we saw a bunch of LimeWire replacements start popping up after the shutdown, including new unofficial versions of LimeWire itself — leading to the supremely ironic situation of LimeWire complaining about unauthorized copies. Cooler heads, however, were discussing the bigger picture: the EU Commissioner was telling copyright middlemen to get with the times, musician Phil Elverum (who I’ve seen live twice — once in a church, and once quite literally in a tree) was urging musicians to let music be free and sell valuable scarcities, and one law professor was using hip-hop as a case study in why copyright laws badly need to be updated.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2005, the world was still in the wake of the Sony rootkit scandal. Despite the PR disaster, the company was still pursuing new copy protection schemes, while we looked towards the class action lawsuit that was in the works. The company’s response was feeble and insulting, claiming that rootkits weren’t a big deal because most people don’t know what they are, and the EFF took a look at Sony’s EULA only to discover a clause saying that if you declare bankruptcy, you must delete the music. Unsurprisingly, virus writers started using the widespread rootkit to their advantage and to cover up their work, and by the end of the week Sony had finally agreed to stop making and distributing rootkits… temporarily.

Fifteen Years Ago

Groups like Anonymous have become well known in recent years, but “hacktivism” has roots going all the way back to this week in 2000, when website defacement and DOS attacks were in their infancy and not always very effective. Of course, the best “DDOS” of the time was a natural one: the presidential election generated enough traffic to knock out a bunch of political websites.

We also saw one of the silliest events in the Napster war this week in 2000: the RIAA sent a letter to Napster requesting that they issue a personal apology to Lars Ulrich, as if (as we put it at the time) he was “5 years old and crying in the corner because some other kid took his toys”. But perhaps it was foolish to expect anything more mature.

Also in 2000: a lot of things sucked, like mobile phone service and search engines and online banking and voice recognition and many aspects of shopping online. You can decide for yourself how far each of those things has come…

Ninety-Three Years Ago

The BBC is one of the most respected public broadcasters in the world, but what not everyone knows is that before it become the Crown-controlled “British Broadcasting Corporation” it had a brief four-year stint of life as the privately-owned “British Broadcasting Company“. It was on November 14th, 1922 that it began mediumwave broadcasts from the Marconi House in London and aired the first BBC newscast, and on November 15th that it launched two additional channels in Manchester and Birmingham.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: November 8th – 14th”

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charliebrown (profile) says:

A Few Comments On History

Wow! Yes! I vaguely remember the days of Alta Vista. There was a joke on “@midnight” (on Comedy Central) last week that said “Yahoo! is what happens when you have a stroke and forget to type Google”.

I buy a lot of CD’s but mainly second hand and I’ve never met Sony’s rootkit on account of most of their CD’s sucked in 2005. No, not the music on them (which, actually, mostly sucked anyway) but their quality was abysmal, with many titles suffering at the hand of brickwalling and excessive loudness. And it was not just Sony! But the few titles I have from 2002-2009 sit in my collection, unplayed since I bought them! I listened once and once was enough.

Didn’t Lars leave the band? I remember one of them sued the ass out of file hosts then quit. It was like he was just trying to set up a nest egg (royalties) and retire. Don’t get me wrong, nest eggs are important, but most people quit because they don’t like their boss, not their friends.

I think also an archivist should just go ahead and archive stuff anyway, even if it is not out orf copyright. They can’t share said archive but when the copyright eventually expires, the archive entry will be there! Get your old news articles and video games and just do it! And just don’t tell anyone!

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

The BBC Were Early Television Pioneers

Did you know the first public television transmissions dated back to the 1930s? The Germans were doing it, and so were the Brits.

This YouTube channel has some interesting items about this early TV history in Britain. At one point they even had the full movie “The Fools On The Hill”, which was a dramatization of those early pioneering days, and the rivalry between the two competing TV systems.

The 405-line resolution of the early system was such a major advance that it was brought back, unchanged, after the war, and continued to be used into the 1960s.

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