from the five-ten-fifteen dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2011, the copyright nonsense was happening at home and abroad. The White House published its infamously terrible Special 301 Report to complain about countries with more enlightened views on copyright. Meanwhile, leaked cables revealed that New Zealand was also on the growing list of countries where the US tried to directly write new copyright laws. In Brazil, which had always been more progressive on the copyright front, citizens were asking the government not to throw out all that hard work.
Things continued to go bad for Righthaven as unsealed documents brought scrutiny to many of its cases, so it hired a "star" copyright lawyer to try to right the ship. A judge slammed John Steele's latest fishing attempt, too.
Ten Years Ago
The same week in 2006, the big content industries were doing the same thing with international copyright: trying to get more favorable laws by playing geopolitical leapfrog. One lawyer filed a motion asserting that the RIAA's $750-per-song infringement fines were unconstitutional, though really the RIAA just should have noticed that fans will pay for music if given a good reason (and that in the movie world, the war on piracy was not working).
There was a push in congress for a new law forcing ISPs to retain data on users, and it was receiving surprisingly little pushback. In response to what opposition existed, the law's backers acted mystified that anyone could possibly have any issues with the plan. Didn't congress have anything better to do, like putting online poker players in jail for some reason?
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2001, we were in the midst of some of the early fears about Chinese cyber-attacks — but these fears were amusingly misdirected at run-of-the-mill website defacements most likely performed by average script-kiddies (or perhaps hackers for hire). Documentarians were clambering over each other to cover Silicon Valley, and random unsubstantiated claims like "the internet as addictive as gambling" were all the rage. But the biggest source of buzz in the tech world was the fast-approaching release of the X-Box.
Napster was in some unsuccessful talks with Microsoft, while some were pointing out that file-sharing has history on its side. Aimster was going on the offensive, suing the RIAA in what appeared to be a publicity stunt.
Thirty-Eight Years Ago
"Spam" existed in various forms (and without that name) prior to the digital era, but May 3rd marks a notable milestone: the first mass unsolicited digital communication, in 1978. It was an advertisement for a new computer, sent in bulk to 393 recipients on ARPANET (who were, for the most part, none too thrilled).