This Week In Techdirt History: July 18th – 24th

from the as-before dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, Cy Vance was still arguing for mandated encryption backdoors with an unconvincing legal argument, while Apple was snubbing John McCain’s attempts to drag them in to hear complaints about encryption, and a former Homeland Security advisor was trying to place the burden of proving backdoors are bad on tech companies. An important ruling in California reaffirmed Section 230 protections in a lawsuit against Yelp, a judge smacked down the DOJ for being lazy about fulfilling FOIA requests, and the EFF was challenging the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions on first amendment grounds.

Ten Years Ago

Though there were a few things going on this week in 2011, like the continuing fight over the PROTECT IP Act, it’s worth focusing on the story that was infuriating at the time and which we now know was the beginning of a terrible tragedy. This was the week that the feds charged Aaron Swartz with felony hacking for downloading JSTOR articles. The indictment was immediately huge news, and closer inspection raised lots of questions (including the curious lack of a copyright angle to the charges — though that didn’t stop the Copyright Alliance from weighing in with a post full of bad analogies). Soon it became clear that the indictment lacked any real legal or moral basis to an extremely troubling degree, and the internet began fighting back by uploading JSTOR articles to file sharing sites. Sadly, this wasn’t the end of the story, and there will be more to come in future weeks.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, CBS was attempting a desperate strategy of selling DVDs of old news clips, Wal-Mart was making an equally desperate attempt to launch a social media network, and some quacks were claiming that iPods cause autism. A court reaffirmed that the DMCA cannot be used to block third-party repairs, MySpace was struggling to make a profit, and a printer company got in trouble for abusing trademark to block competition. We also saw a rare (in those days, and to some degree still) honest debate about net neutrality, as well as the much-anticipated opening of the floodgates on YouTube copyright lawsuits.

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