This Week In Techdirt History: May 15th – 21st

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, we saw lots of critical digital issues being debated around the world. France was playing statistical games to claim that its HADOPI three strikes law was effective (it wasn’t), even as it was having to temporarily suspend some operations following a data breach; Turkey was facing protests in response to a new plan for internet censorship; Pakistan was considering banning Facebook in the country; libraries in New Zealand were considering avoiding their own three strikes law by shutting off internet access; and in the UK, the courts were expanding superinjunction laws to cover social media and considering the Hargreaves report on the state of copyright.

In the US, we were digging into the PROTECT IP act, which was really all about old media going to war with the internet. As Google pointed out, it would set a disastrous precedent for free speech (which, of course, the big media companies tried to claim meant Google thought it was above the law). The International Trade Commission was using some silly methodology to amp up the damages of “piracy” in China, the RIAA was pushing for warrantless searches of CD and DVD manufacturing plants and trying to dig through the cloud for infringement.

Ten Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2006, we were happy to see the New York Times recognizing the amazing power of a digital library of scanned books, and also pointing out how great it can be for bringing attention to commercially neglected works. The RIAA was freaking out about the ability to record songs from satellite radio in a re-hash of the old “home taping is killing music” debacle, despite having sworn it would never be opposed to private, non-commercial recording. At least Australia was smart enough to realize that people should be allowed to rip their own CDs to their own iPods. Meanwhile, some were realizing that TV downloads could be a huge commercial opportunity for Hollywood, though they’d been trying to offer movies for years and the offerings still sucked. After all, how else could they keep making $200-million movies, right?

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, the biggest source of prediction and speculation was the future of wireless. One report noted that the real key to unlocking the wireless revolution was a killer app that everyone wanted, while MIT was focusing on the need for devices to improve, especially in terms of their displays (though small screens were probably going to do just fine for porn) and really trying to figure out exactly where the wireless web was at, and where it was going. We also saw an extremely smart, subtle prediction that has proven largely true: that consumer choices for wireless devices would start significantly influencing their choices for more traditional PC hardware and software (hello, Apple!)

Thirty-Six Years Ago

Since the latest Star Wars movie is still fresh in many people’s minds, and since we even talked about its remix qualities earlier today in our Awesome Stuff post, it seems worth noting that it was on this day in 1980 that The Empire Strikes Back was released in cinemas. It’s now widely considered to be the best of the original trilogy, and one of the best films in movie history.

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