from the not-so-fast dept
Five Years Ago
There were a lot of branding battles breaking out this week in 2010. LucasFilm targeted a company called Jedi Mind with claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, breach of contract and unfair competition; Madonna got sued for selling clothes under the name Material Girl by a company that had already been doing that since 1997; Warner Bros. called in the lawyers over "Harry Popper" condoms being made in Switzerland; Facebook kicked off a trademark fight with Teachbook; Take-Two Interactive discovered that it couldn't snag the bioshock.com domain because it was registered before the Bioshock trademark; and yet another player jumped into the trademark fight over the Mafia Wars Facebook game. Meanwhile, in a town up here in Ontario, some guy managed to trademark the phrase "Welcome to Parry Sound" and started demanding money from local businesses.
Copyright collection societies around the world were up to their usual tricks, with a Czech proposal that would require artists to get collection society permission to use Creative Commons, a South African society fighting to prevent music from entering the public domain, and BMI trying hard to reverse a court ruling that let venues route around it.
Also this week in 2010, Techdirt received one of the most incredible legal threats we've ever been hit with, demanding we take down the entire site over some unidentified comments.
Ten Years Ago
In 2005, China's internet censorship regime was in full-swing, and we got to see some rare quotes from the state defending the system. Meanwhile, the Chinese government was also turning its attention on video games, with the introduction of a three-hour limit on online gaming sessions.
Anti-spam laws focused on children were beginning to backfire while an unsurprising study showed that college kids are too smart to fall for spam. The popular fear that texting was ruining children's language skills was shown to be unlikely, not that anyone noticed, many being more focused on using phones to track kids' whereabouts. At least in Japan it appeared that mobile phones had the unexpected effect of reducing teen smoking.
Fifteen Years Ago
Technology was changing plenty of things in 2000. This week, we saw the first car designed almost entirely on a computer — but the more exciting advancements were in new polymers, which promised all sorts of automobile performance improvements (not to mention new achievements in the field of medicine). Some scientists were working on genetically modified goats that produce spider's web protein in their milk, while others had figured out how to make skin temporarily transparent. Meanwhile, a new protest group was building robots to spraypaint sidewalks and hand out pamphlets.
The dot-com world was still uncertain, and for some reason a lot of people seemed to love gloating about that fact. The Economist took the time to look at a list of things the internet can't do, and while it focused on loftier goals, the potential list did get a bit shorter with the first forays into online pizza delivery.
Eight-Hundred Years Ago
The Magna Carta is famous as one of the foundational documents in the history of modern law, and the fact that it was signed in 1215 is one of those popular pieces of trivia that float around with minimal context. Many can name that year, but fewer know that it would be another eight decades before the Magna Carta truly held any sway. Initially, it was the centerpiece of an English civil war, drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and signed by King John and a bunch of rebellious Barons — all of whom on both sides promptly ignored it pretty much entirely. The King then did an end run to Pope Innocent III, who sent a letter dated August 24th, 1215 in which he declared the Magna Carta "null, and void of all validity for ever" and threatened excommunication of anyone who observed it. It would later be reintroduced at the end of the war, then again a few years later, by John's son, and then another seventy years after that by his son, at which point it finally became England's statute law.