This Week In Techdirt History: July 17th – 23rd

from the memories dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, the battle over the PROTECT IP bill continued, with the MPAA utterly failing to address the concerns of experts and the creators of the internet and the Copyright Alliance vaguely trying to “set the record straight” by responding to an un-linked, un-cited post written against the bill. We pointed to a variety of examples showing why we shouldn’t rush to approve PROTECT IP, but it seemed like the lawmakers were pretty confused about what it was to begin with — one senator thought it was about an internet kill-switch, and another had it all confused with net neutrality.

Also this week in 2011, we saw the beginning of what we now know to be a very sad story: federal prosecutors filed felony charges against Aaron Swartz for downloading documents from JSTOR. We couldn’t help but notice that, despite so much rhetoric about theft and infringement, there was no mention of copyright in the indictment. Indeed, there didn’t seem to be any legal or moral basis for the charges whatsoever. But that didn’t stop the Copyright Alliance from throwing their hat into the ring with a post full of terrible analogies — nor did it stop lots of people from uploading JSTOR research to file-sharing sites in protest.

Ten Years Ago

It’s easy to forget that once upon a time YouTube was new — and that was the case this week in 2006, when it was still independent and so young that its very first copyright lawsuits were just beginning to materialize. Interestingly, this same week, the MPAA was getting hyped about new technology for detecting infringing video (though perhaps they should have focused more on innovations that aren’t designed to fail).

We were also pleased to see a very rare beast: an honest debate about net neutrality. Not just that — there was also a great John Hodgman-helmed explainer segment on the Daily Show, and a creative reimagining of the debate that made it all about sidewalks instead of networks.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, though Napster was basically dead, it didn’t seem to have helped the recording industry very much (and who could have predicted that?) Over in the UK, they decided the best way was to start young, and began teaching kids about the evils of file sharing in elementary school. Meanwhile, the high-profile arrest of a Russian programmer for breaking encryption was shaping up to be a major test to copyright law. And amidst all this, copy-protected CDs were starting to show up in record stores.

Also this week in 2001: Microsoft was discovered stopping a charity from distributing computers over licensing issues; the top-ranked legal advisor on an advice website was a fifteen-year-old kid; Fandango made the first brave foray into the now-normal practice of printing movie tickets at home; and people were still trying to figure out how (and why) to get video onto cellphones.

One-Hundred And Seventeen Years Ago

NEC isn’t a big trendy consumer name — at least not outside Japan. But its a gigantic supplier of the network equipment that powers so much of our digital world — and it was on July 17th, 1899 that it was launched as the first ever Japanese joint-venture with foreign capital.

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