This Week In Techdirt History

from the broadband,-tv-and-rats dept

Time for another walk down Techdirt memory lane. Let's get started:

Five Years Ago...

In 2009, the digital world was grappling with a lot of the same issues it is now. Piracy, always a hot topic, was being hashed out throughout Europe, with France gutting 'three strikes' and Germany declaring "accidental" file sharing to be legal. Meanwhile, the head of UK ISP TalkTalk was sending a clear message to the recording industry: you can't beat pirates. This was also the week of an infamous copyright claim you may remember: an Australian publishing firm claimed that Men At Work's "Down Under" was a ripoff of the 1930s children's song "Kookaburra". Sadly, less than a year later, a judge would find that the song did infringe and award the publisher a bunch of royalties. Another year after that, the high court would refuse to hear the band's appeal.

Online gambling was another big concern in 2009, and its status was still unclear. The same week that the feds started freezing the funds of online poker sites was the week that Minnesota backed down from its plans to block gambling sites.

Also this week: judges were still divided on the question of whether students could be punished for off-campus speech on social media, e-voting machine glitches were continuing to pile up, the Canadian patent office rejected software and business model patents, and we asked whether ICANN should dump the idea of generic TLDs. Finally, this week featured a post that I always keep bookmarked, since the quotes therein are fun and frequently apposite: a round-up of people damning new things, ranging from video games through telephones and all the way back to the waltz.

Ten Years Ago...

UK ISPs made an appearance this week in 2004, too — but this time it was because they were trying and/or being asked to help filter porn. ISPs worldwide, meanwhile, were realizing that customers were starting to care about upstream speeds as well as downstream ones. Tech observers, on the other hand, were realizing that very few companies secured their Wi-Fi networks. Researchers were realizing that computers can help pre-school development, the video game industry was realizing that people outside the "typical" gamer demographic were the next big market, and we were hoping the advertising industry would realize the problems with pay-per-click models (limited progress on that front).

The world of TV was rapidly accelerating towards the cord-cutting, Netflix-loving reality of today: TiVo announced plans to bring more internet integration to its platform, and a European survey showing people sacrificing TV time for internet time underlined the need for the former to better incorporate the latter.

Also, we saw a singular incident in favor of cellphone use while driving: a South African man's life was saved when his phone stopped a bullet destined for his head.

Fifteen Years Ago...

I honestly wouldn't have guessed it was this long ago, but this week in 1999 is when Amazon first started taking baby steps into downloadable music, laying the groundwork for what has become one of the largest digital music stores — though, at the time, it was free music as a strategy to boost physical CD sales. Of course, all the way back then, we were also already noting that sales numbers go up when piracy goes up.

Also in 1999: the Palm VII was being snatched up by early adopters, eBay was struggling to keep its servers running, and chess master Gary Kasparov agreed to take on the entire internet in a chess match (he won in 62 moves, but said he expended more effort on it than any other game in his life).

450 Years Ago...

1564 is the year of the first recorded report of the still-quasi-mythical Rat King. Anyone who enjoys such middle-ages folklore should check out this children's novel by Terry Pratchett, which plumbs surprising philosophical and existential depths for a book with such a goofy title.

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