This Week In Techdirt History: January 1st – 7th

from the new-years dept

Five Years Ago

This week we finally move from 2011 to 2012, but as far as the news goes little has changed: it was all SOPA, all the time. There was growing confusion around which companies actually supported the bill, with some like EA trying to avoid taking a position altogether and others, like some game developers, clashing with their own industry groups like the ESA over how to respond. The ESA was a strong supporter of the bill, and initially had the firm backing of Capcom — but Capcom soon tried to back down and worm its way out of the spotlight. Grover Norquist, a huge supporter of strong copyright law, also tried to get some distance from SOPA and PIPA. Al Gore came out with some thorough and strong opposition, and Senator Ron Wyden was planning a filibuster.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, everyone and their brother was jumping on the MySpace-clone bandwagon, with Disney launching a limited and unimpressive platform and even Toyota announcing plans to do the same. A tech company somehow managed to get a patent that basically covered all digital downloads and proceeded to sue everyone, while the RIAA was fighting its own fight to keep its wholesale digital download prices on the hush-hush. The movie industry was still flailing around with even more DRM and an unwelcome addition to the high-def DVD format wars, and we saw the latest crazy attack on YouTube in the form of an accusation that the site aids and abets vandalism.

Fifteen Years Ago

Speaking of DRM, this week in 2002 one congressional representative pointed out that it is probably illegal under a 1992 law — but I guess that idea didn’t fly. There was lots of buzz about the future of “interactive television” but that idea didn’t exactly soar either. The beginning of 2002 also marked one of only two times in history so far that the number of domain names online had gone down (presumably after cybersquatters and domain prospectors abandoned their domains after the tech bubble burst). And though the technology was still in its early days, folks were beginning to worry about facial recognition software.

Sixty-Three Years Ago

But now here’s a real example of technology in its early days. I’m rarely surprised to find out that an area of tech has been around longer than I thought and than you might expect, but I was genuinely surprised to learn that all the way back on January 7th, 1954, IBM used one of its mainframe computers to do the first demonstration of computer translation, taking Russian sentences encoded to punch cards and producing print-outs of English translations. Of course the system was quite simple, the sentences carefully chosen, and the scope extremely limited — but it worked, and placed the first example of such technology much earlier in the history books than I would have guessed.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: January 1st – 7th”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Five Years From Now

I’m pretty sure they could do that now, give how lawsuit happy liar and frauds, which TD has no problem calling out, tend to be. If I’m remembering various comments over the years right they receive threats on a fairly regular basis, it wouldn’t surprise me if at least a few of those have gone all the way to ‘actual lawsuit’.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Five Years From Now

Why odd? Don’t you think any competent lawyer would tell them to not do anything to exacerbate the situation?

Here is a small piece of analysis, though as Scott Greenfield suggests, nothing is determined as yet.

In the end, even if proven the suit has no merit, there will be a cost. One of the shames of our legal system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Five Years From Now

“At the time, the constitutional “scholars” argued that none of this would happen, there would be no chilling effect. It was just about Gawker, because Gawker, and sex videos because privacy. Nothing to see here, move along.”

Yea, this happens all the time. I try to warn all the little fundies around here for it and get a lot of hate. A lot of people lack the ability to understand that they usually bring about the very thing they are trying to prevent during their efforts to prevent them.

There is even a proverb for it, but casting pearls before swine and all that stuff…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Five Years From Now

That Gawker folded not because they were wrong but because they ran out of money to keep fighting back shouldn’t have any bearing on this case at all, even if you might very well be right that it will.

Shiva is accusing TD of making false statements(and talk about a case of the pot calling the silverware black with that bit of chutzpah), something which is demonstrably false given Mike was careful to back up his statements with evidence showing why he said what he did.

Given the above I’m really sure that Shiva does not want this to go to full trial, where Mike could easily demonstrate, in a court of law, that his claims are bogus, and as such the real goal is to do to TD what he helped do to Gawker, force them under for saying mean things about him to act as a warning to anyone else who dares question the ‘totally true and absolutely accurate’ narrative his ‘fame’ depends upon.

In an ideal world the judge would ask Mike to respond to the claims that he knowingly made false statements, Mike would present the evidence that no, his statements weren’t at all false and were backed by significant evidence, the judge would dismiss the case and hit Shiva with a hefty penalty(including legal fees) for bringing a SLAPP suit, and much schadenfreude would be had by all.

However, given I have long lost all faith in the ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’ in the legal system(hence why I’m careful to never call it the Justice System), even if Mike wins he still loses, out a significant amount of money from defending himself while Shiva walks away unscathed, exactly as Shiva intends, given the US still lacks a strong, federal anti-SLAPP law(and isn’t likely to get one any time soon for obvious reasons).

(That said, if Mike/TD want to put up a ‘Help TD fight back’ donation thing I would absolutely throw some money their way to help defray legal costs, and I’m sure I’m not the only one)

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