from the same-as-it-ever-was dept
Five Years Ago
The ACTA saga continued this week in 2011, as things began to become quite the mess. Homeland Security complained to the USTR that ACTA was a threat to national security, while the latter was withholding a Congressional Research Service report that confirmed the agreement's highly questionable language. As was widely suspected, it was also confirmed that the US was the lone holdout refusing to release the text of ACTA, though a former DHS official was calling it a "sweetheart deal" for IP owners.
Righthaven was slammed by yet another judge, even as it refused to cut its losses in a court that had previously shut down its requests. Yet despite this kind of thing getting more common, in the big picture it appeared that the shakedown schemes of most copyright trolls were working.
Ten Years Ago
A lot of this week's news in 2006 came out of the big conference on copyright at the Cato Institute, and the fact that Rep. Lamar Smith had introduced new legislation to expand the DMCA (and, because why not, some attempts to expand trademark law too). The sentencing guidelines were wacky, giving a bigger penalty to piracy than to things like assaulting a police officer or possessing child porn. We also so an attempt to require DRM on streaming music, and fun IP abuses like trying to force all Elvis impersonators to buy licenses, or the RIAA suing yet another family with no computer.
Also, while Facebook was around in 2006, it's easy to forget that it was still only open to students — and this was the week it started pushing beyond that boundary.
Fifteen Years Ago
We saw a sad but telling story in 2001: the creators of the DRM encryption system SDMI held a contest to hack it, with the problematic clause that entrants couldn't publish their research — leading some to go ahead with it on their own terms, freaking out the folks at SDMI. This week, they threatened a professor who had succeeded and suggested he should destroy every copy of his paper; while I doubt he went so far, the threats were enough to stop him from presenting the research to anyone. The whole thing made the SDMI folks (and their RIAA friends) look really bad, but they don't seem to have learned much of a lesson from it.
Techdirt also launched two new features this week in 2001. The first was something called QuickLinks, and it was mostly a disaster and removed the next day. The other was our adoption of a little something called RSS. That one fared a bit better.
Two-Hundred And Sixteen Years Ago
Today, it's a significant part of the government, with bizarre and highly important powers to define aspects of copyright law. But back when it was created by John Adams on April 24, 1800, the Library of Congress was only that: a library. It was given $5000 "for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress ... and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them" — which at the time translated to 740 books and three maps ordered from London.