This Week In Techdirt History: February 21st – 27th

from the goes-around-comes-around dept

Five Years Ago

Lots and lots of IP fights this week in 2011. Multiple people were trying to claim they came with the idea for Kung Fu Panda first; the Tolkien Estate was embroiled in a battle over historical fiction that included a depiction of the famous writer, and it looked like they may be gearing up to go after a re-imagining of Lord Of The Rings too; and the lawyers for Settlers Of Catan were abusing IP law to take down legitimate competitors. We saw what might have been the first DMCA notice over 3D printer schematics, an appeals court was considering the possibility of plucking Wizard Of Oz images back out of the public domain, and Hulk Hogan was trying to use publicity rights to establish ownership over calling people “brother” and referring to your muscles as “guns”. We also looked at the ridiculous trademark saga of Kennedy Fried Chicken, and examined some subtle copyright questions like whether copying the idea for a magazine cover and reciting song lyrics on television are forms of infringement.

Meanwhile, Chris Dodd was fresh out of the Senate and already breaking his promise to never become a lobbyist by joining the MPAA as exactly that (and this wasn’t the only example of the revolving door between government and industry).

Ten Years Ago

Spam, spyware and fraud were big topics this week in 2006. The Washington Post was looking deeply into the world of botnets, Miller Brewing was tracking down customers who used junk email addresses, ESPN was trying to get people to cough up a fee to avoid having their info sent to marketers, and one spammer got eight years in jail for an identity theft hack. We wondered about the responsibilities of anti-spyware researchers while the makers of anti-spyware software were more or less at war with each other. Amidst all this, it was discovered that a group of 419 scammers in Amsterdam pulled in millions of dollars in just a few months.

This was also the week of the injunction against Google in the Perfect 10 lawsuit, which was highly problematic but not without its upsides.

Fifteen Years Ago

The fallout from the Napster ruling was still in full-swing, with the company guaranteeing a billion dollars to record labels if it can stay in business as a subscription service (though the math on that was questionable). The commentators were going wild as usual, some saying Napster must die and others pointing out that anti-piracy laws are often anti-consumer.

This week in 2001 also contains two “wow, it was that long ago?” moments. First, it was the announcement that Virgin Mobile was coming to the US. Then, it was one of the biggest and strangest early internet memes, before they were called memes: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.

138 & 69 Years Ago

This week, we mark two historical firsts for important innovations that are all but obsolete today (though one is making a bit of a comeback). First, it was on February 21st, 1878 that the first ever telephone directory (a single piece of cardboard with 50 listings) was published in New Haven, Connecticut.

Later, on the same day in 1947, Edwin H. Land demonstrated the first instant camera to the Optical Society of America. Polaroid put 57 units up for sale before Christmas of the following year, estimating that they’d have plenty of time to manufacture more if demand was high — but all 57 units and all of the film sold out on the first day of demonstrations.

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