from the playing-telephone dept
Let's get started on another look back through Techdirt history.
Five Years Ago...
Well, there's one big event from 2009 that you'll surely remember: a jury deciding to fine Jammie Thomas $1.92-million, or $80,000 per song. Even though Thomas made a big mistake by not settling, the insanely huge award raised a lot of eyebrows — including those of the EFF, which questioned the constitutionality of the decision — prompting the RIAA to go on the defensive and attempt distance itself from the giant numbers. Meanwhile, an even more absurd case nearly slipped under the radar when a woman who didn't even own a computer made a zero-dollar settlement over a filesharing lawsuit that never should have been brought in the first place.
That wasn't all the RIAA was up to. It was also demanding an investigation of radio stations "boycotting" musicians who supported the Performance Rights Act, despite having just recently described radio as "a kind of piracy". Meanwhile, they were insisting that terrestrial radio needs to match its royalty structure to that of satellite and internet radio — a royalty structure they had originally fought for on the basis that those services were entirely different from terrestrial radio.
Also this week in 2009: Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) "forgave" Coldplay for "copying" his song, Adrian Jacobs joined the line of people trying to accuse JK Rowling of copying them, and EA put its foot in its mouth (a longstanding tradition) by staging fake protests for a new game.
Ten Years Ago...
Remember the ill-fated idea for a "do not spam" list? This week in 2004 is when the feds officially ditched it. An infamous family of Canadian spammers also claimed to have changed its ways, while a professor from Singapore predicted that spam would be gone within two years (we were sagely unconvinced). We also noticed that in the business world, IT departments were doing a damn good job at keeping spam out of employee inboxes.
Spam wasn't the only area of nefarious activity ten years ago. Companies were teaming up to stop phishing scams and the first smartphone worm was discovered — though some didn't even need worms to panic about 3G phones.
As a reminder of just how long ago this was: we were excited about new wireless network storage and Amazon's amazing plan to let people watch preview snippets of DVDs online. And to remind you how little things change: indie labels were accusing Apple of bullying them into unfavorable terms, and quantum teleportation was one step closer but still oh so far away, much as it is today.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 1999 marked the death of DIVX. No, not the video codec — that was actually mockingly named after the original DIVX, an attempt by Circuit City to get people to buy DVD-like rental discs that expire and stop working. It also marked the birth of satellite radios built into cars and internet-specific insurance policies.
The world was still in the early days of the switch to digital projectors in movie theatres, and George Lucas used this as a chance to show off The Phantom Menace. Amazon.com invested in Sotheby's, and Sex.com was engaged in some bizarre shenanigans.
Oh, and some were saying that the much-hyped internet was underhyped. They weren't entirely wrong, though "hype" is a tough thing to measure — but the original article is still up if you want to see some of their predictions.
174 Years Ago...
On June 20th, 1840, Samuel Morse received his patent on the telegraph. Also on June 20th, but 37 years later in 1877, Alexander Graham Bell opened the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, just an hour's drive from where I type this. Communication technology advanced a little slower in those days.