from the a-long-way-back dept
We were writing about (surprise!) the nuttiness of copyright laws. We had a story about a professional blues and jazz musician who was absolutely baffled by the way copyright law was getting in the way of basic creativity. Meanwhile, the Associated Press, who claimed that you had to buy a license if you quoted more than 4 words of an article was happily licensing words on which it held no copyright. Over in Congress, Rep. Zoe Lofgren was beginning to wonder why the government didn't examine if copyright laws were being used in a manner that violated anti-trust laws. And, yes, people were still getting arrested for tinkering with products they bought, because obviously that's copyright infringement (huh?).
On the trademark side, we wrote about a lawyer who had the job of watching finished movies to make sure no brands appeared anywhere in the movie unless a fee had been paid (what a job!). It was beginning to look like paid WiFi was on its death bed. The influx of parents was starting to make Facebook uncool. And, as a response to all those people claiming "well, you wouldn't want your brain surgery done by 'the crowd' so why would you trust Wikipedia," we pointed to a study saying many doctors were using Wikipedia to research things.
Finally, down in Australia, one of that country's many experiments with internet filters and censorship resulted in educational sites being blocked, while porn sites were widely available.
Ten Years Ago:
Hollywood helped put an innovative company out of business, killing off 321 Software, a company that made software to let people make backups of their DVDs. Tim Wu discovered people being turned away from an RIAA-sponsored concert, because (supposedly) bands were annoyed that cameraphone photos of the bands would show up online, without the band making any money for it (yeah, okay).
On the patent front, we were covering stories of some of the early patent trolls, while Marten Mickos wrote one of the best analogies we'd heard about software patents, referring to them as the nuclear stockpiling of the software industry. Meanwhile, Symantec got sued by a company that was upset that Symantic referred to its product as adware and a service in Malaysia was trying to let people send text messages to the driver of any car if you knew their license plate.
Fifteen Years Ago:
There were a lot of fairly bad predictions going around. Amazon was being criticized for expanding into selling consumer electronics, while investors were saying that downloadable music was a terrible idea, with a Tower Records (remember them?) exec claiming that downloadable music was a "video game". Meanwhile, we were wondering -- back in 1999 -- if the world had too many blogs (we were still calling them weblogs back then). Similarly, the NY Times thought people were crazy to waste their time scouring the internet for news articles and sharing them with people. How about that?
Meanwhile, Bill Gates had been criticized widely for many years for not donating much to charity. Fifteen years ago, he finally revealed his plans to give away most of his money -- something he's been following up on.
Twenty Three Years Ago:
We weren't publishing on the web yet, in part because this week Tim Berners-Lee revealed the details of his World Wide Web project to the world by posting it to a few Usenet groups. This is widely considered the birth of the web.