This Week In Techdirt History: March 13th – 19th

from the hindsight dept

Five Years Ago

The ongoing fight between the FBI and Apple serves to highlight the importance of past disputes between the government and technology companies. This week in 2011, we saw a concerning decision by a judge to allow the feds to access Twitter account data on Wikileaks’ associates, and noted that it raised some pretty big questions. And, of course, there was also still the ongoing issue of Homeland Security’s domain name seizures where Rep. Zoe Lofgren was fighting the good fight.

Relatedly, the acting Register of Copyrights was strategizing about how to “starve” piracy sites, while the IP Czar was making some terrible enforcement recommendations, and the recently-minted MPAA boss, former Senator Chris Dodd, was playing the ol’ “infringement is theft” card. The lawns were also well-defended from kids this week in 2011, with Bon Jovi claiming Steve Jobs killed music and Bob Woodward claiming Google killed newspapers.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, it was Google embroiled in disputes with the feds. While one judge was considering forcing Google to cough up some user info for the feds in what might have been a show-trial covering a settlement, another was ordering the company to comply with a subpoena for a user’s complete Gmail records. At least when pitted against someone other than the federal government they fared better, with yet another judge tossing out a lawsuit that blamed Google for Usenet postings.

In 2006, the head of the MPAA was Dan Glickman, and he was busy blaming piracy for the troubles of movie theatres, though that effort would be better spent coming up with more substantive promotional tactics. A handful of people were starting to realize the dangers of DRM, and discovering new ones like its toll on battery life. We also got the first whiff of Amazon’s AWS platform.

Fifteen Years Ago

The turmoil in Silicon Valley hadn’t changed much this week in 2001. Everyone was still a self-styled augur predicting contradictory futures for the internet, building hype around everything from online dating to the internet-driven death of democracy, then blaming each other for creating too much hype. Some were calling for a better revolution than we’d gotten, while others were pointing out that the true change was incremental and evolutionary. At least there were plenty of interesting layoff stories, including one with a turnaround of less than 24 hours.

85 Years Ago

Today everyone knows that India’s Bollywood is a global film powerhouse that shares inspiration with Hollywood in both directions — but that cultural conversation extends a lot further back than many people realize. On March 14th, 1931, India’s first “talkie” — Alam Ara — was released and became a massive hit. Especially interesting is that the film was inspired by Show Boat, a 1929 Hollywood film that was part-silent, part-talkie (and included a fully-silent version) for a time when not all cinemas were properly equipped for talkies. Then, five years after Alam Ara in 1936, Hollywood released a newly shot all-talkie version of Show Boat.

The 1936 Show Boat survives. The 1929 version was thought to be lost, but most of it has since been found and released. Alam Ara, sadly, has had no known surviving copies since the 1960s.

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