This Week In Techdirt History

from the hindsight-is-20-20 dept

Let's embark on another look back through Techdirt's history:

Five Years Ago

This week in 2009, there was a lot of wrangling over royalties and rates. YouTube convinced PRS in the UK to slash its streaming royalties by reminding them just how much they rely on YouTube for an audience. Meanwhile, ASCAP was pushing for videogame sellers to pay performance rights to songwriters. A Swedish indie label operator asked whether $1 per song still make sense in the age of iPods, and a Canadian lawyer was demonstrating the absurdity of Canada's copyright levy system. eMusic had just raised prices after signing Sony to its service — a terrible PR move that the company appeared to be trying to sweep under the rug. In the background of all this was a discussion about the rise and future of internet radio, now a massive royalty battleground all its own.

Five years ago, the RIAA was six months into pushing an earlier version of its voluntary "strikes" plan for ISPs, but none had signed on. Meanwhile, the British government was rejecting the whole notion of "three strikes". On the ISP side, Verizon wasn't counting strikes but it was pitching a screwball argument that US broadband is really competitive.

The USTR had just launched a new website with promises of transparency, and we all know how that went. Also, the Supreme Court had just announced that it would hear the Bilski case, giving it a chance to rule firmly on the question of software and business model patents — which it decided not to do, offering an extremely narrow ruling instead.

Ten Years Ago

In 2004, the CAN-SPAM act was still reasonably young, and we were grappling with its impact. We noted that, as predicted, it increased the amount of spam. It created a whole new service industry for spam detectives, and some major issues like nefarious use of the required 'unsubscribe' button. And of course, companies were rushing to patent anti-spam technology.

Several new tech trends were emerging or taking shape this week in 2004. The public was growing increasingly comfortable with online news, while experts were discussing the future of security and the need to adopt two-factor authentication. The online storage revolution sparked by Gmail was picking up steam with 1gb storage offerings transforming from "news" to "the norm". There was a lot of buzz (and a lot of questions) about the move to 64-bit systems. And we took a look at the youth of the digital age's very own musical art form: circuit bending.

Fifteen Years Ago

It was a quiet week (remember those?) in 1999. We were surprised and a bit dismayed by the sales of Sony's silly $2000 robot dog, excited about the possibility of fiber to the house (before Google would have been anywhere on anyone's list of companies that might offer such a thing), and curious but unsure about the idea of sending exobits per second of data through power lines.

Some traditional companies and retailers were going web-only, and one particularly weird company was offering to write complaint letters for you, for a fee.

519 Years Ago

Over half a millennium ago, in a wonderful and timeless act of innovation, a friar distilled the first-ever batch of Scotch whisky at the Lindores Abbey in Scotland. The order came down this week, on June 1st 1495, from the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, along with the necessary supplies: "To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae, VIII bolls of malt."

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