from the changes dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2011, we saw a variety of studies and other sources pushing back against the common "wisdom" on copyright and piracy. People were beginning to point to the signs that weaker copyright can encourage cultural output, that piracy can actually increase the quality of content, that pirates are the best consumers, and that file sharing is good for artists.
Of course, on the flipside, we saw the idea/expression dichotomy gutted when a judge allowed a photographer to sue Rihanna. PayPal agreed to help cut sites off at the behest of the IFPI, a UK court ordered a telecom to block sites at Hollywood's behest, and the music industry was pushing for infringement red flags in Google search results.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2006, Kazaa began walking down the Napster road of going straight (and becoming irrelevant). Meanwhile Metallica, author of Napster's destruction, was finally accepting that fans want music online, and entering the iTunes store. TorrentSpy was trying to fend off Hollywood, the RIAA was dropping cases over the fact that an IP address is not a person, the industry was cracking down on karaoke bars, and amidst so much dastardly piracy, the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel was still thriving. YouTube was changing the way people interact with television, and gimmicky technology was changing the way people interact with a game of Monopoly.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2001, still fresh off the heels of Napster's destruction, it was bizarre to see Metallica's website boasting about their love of "sharing" music. Some people were predicting that all the Napster copycats cropping up in its wake would soon be dead thanks to more effective copyright schemes (and though many of the clones did die, music piracy lives on...) The folks in DC were apparently very happy with the DMCA despite its increasingly obvious problems, most notably last week's arrest of a hacker that went over so poorly Adobe started backing down. But perhaps the most noticeable way technology was changing the entertainment industry was naturally, from the inside out: a lot of cliche movie plots were rendered nonsensical by things like cellphones, and TV news and sports broadcasts were undergoing a drastic webification.
Seventy-Six Years Ago
There's a lot of talk about Mickey Mouse in the copyright world, but this week we can celebrate a competing character who also evades the public domain thanks to copyright extension: Bugs Bunny, who was introduced in the short A Wild Hare on July 27, 1940. (The all-time classic Bugs short What's Opera, Doc? would have entered the public domain two years ago were it not for the 1976 Copyright Act.)