This Week In Techdirt History: October 7th – 13th

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the US government shut down. Former CIA director Morell used that as an excuse to skip an NSA surveillance review board meeting, while James Clapper warned that failing to pay the agency’s mercenary contractors might lead to security problems. The TSA similarly used the shutdown as an excuse for letting a nine-year-old sneak on to a flight, and a lawsuit by tech companies over NSA surveillance was put on hold. Outside the government, some folks were having fun with the shutdown, such as the Russian pirates offering to host the NASA website, someone submitting a bug report to GitHub describing how “government occasionally shuts down”, and Good Old Games started offering some free thematically-appropriate games to furloughed government workers.

But hey, at least Congress’s members-only gym was deemed essential and kept open.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, it was still the early days of the global financial crisis. Many self-serving and/or bizarre explanations popped up, blaming things like short selling and Wikipedia edit wars or, most strangely, flickering computer screens (according to author Tom Wolfe). Cooler heads took a closer look at the real causes: leverage and derivatives and a toxic, complex financial system.

Meanwhile, bogus stats and arguments were coming strong from the US Chamber of Commerce and members of congress in a push to get the president to sign the bill creating a copyright czar. At the same time, a judge ordered an injunction against Real’s DVD copying software and for some inexplicable reason kept it secret, then extended it.

Also, long before the Snowden leaks and following Congress’s capitulation on warrantless wiretapping, early leaks were already documenting NSA surveillance abuse.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, as we took a look at the role of music retailers in the industry’s failure to adapt, the record companies were trying to ape the success of DVDs by adding “extras” to CDs. That’s extra content — not extras like BMG’s new DRM system, which a researcher discovered could be defeated by holding down the shift key while inserting the disk. SunnComm, the company that made the laughably useless DRM, naturally announced plans to sue the researcher for besmirching their good name — but reversed course in less than 24 hours in the face of public outcry. The software industry, on the other hand, was just beginning to dip its toe into the waters of a DRM approach that would gain much more traction (even while still being quite easily circumvented): product activation codes.

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