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

from the not-so-long-ago dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2018, Rep. Marsha Blackburn was pushing a fake net neutrality law, while the Senate push to save net neutrality was one vote short, and lawsuits were lining up against the FCC over the repeal: first from 22 state Attorneys General, and then from Mozilla and consumer groups like Public Knowledge and Free Press. We saw a couple judges smack around a copyright troll, while the UK was beginning an insane intellectual property “education” program for grade school kids. And, with basically no debate and no opportunity for amendments, the Senate voted to expand NSA surveillance.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2013, we grappled with the sad news of Aaron Swartz’s death the previous Friday. Mike shared some overarching thoughts and then dug into the fact that the case against him was complete garbage. We wondered why the Secret Service had taken over his case two days before he was arrested, and noted how someone who committed a litany of actual crimes could have faced less time in prison. Tim Wu discussed the prosecution and how “under American law, anyone interesting is a felon”, law professor James Grimmelmann explained how he probably violated the same laws as Swartz, and some in Congress demanded answers: Rep. Darrell Issa promised an investigation while Senator John Cornyn sent some questions to Eric Holder.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2008, the sustained failures of DRM had left the copyright industries trying out new things, but I wouldn’t call it innovation: as we wrote, digital watermarks were not the answer, nor were the RIAA’s voiceover anti-piracy messages that were pissing off music reviewers. We took a closer look at the challenges faced by a broadcast network like NBC in the digital age, while Netflix (at the time still focused on mailing DVDs) took a monumental step and offered an unlimited online streaming package, stealing attention from Apple’s announcement of iTunes movie rentals and highlighting that model’s big problems. Meanwhile, in a big NY Times “debate” series between Tim Wu and NBC Universal’s General Counsel, we heard unsurprising arguments from the latter about why copy protection is necessary and ISPs should filter copyrighted works, and a good suggestion from the former about redefining fair use to make it work better.

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