from the new-year's-edition dept
Movie studios started planning how to stop Netflix from showing their films (which is why Netflix still has a limited selection of streaming movies). This was also the week that Viacom realized that of all the videos it had sued YouTube over, it had actually uploaded over 100 of them itself -- meaning both that they were fully licensed and proving the point that if Viacom can't even tell which videos are licensed and which are not, it's ridiculous to think that YouTube should just magically know which ones are which. Record label Interscope was trying to get people to buy CDs by offering you a copy of Tweetdeck software "for free!" if you bought a CD. Except, of course, Tweetdeck has always been free. The MPAA ratings people gave "It's Complicated" an R rating for showing movie watchers that pot can make you giggle. Nina Paley made a key point in noting that the problem has never been middlemen, but monopolies.
One court totally overreacted and ordered an entire website taken down because of some defamatory comments on them, while another court correctly rejected a lawsuit against a consumer complaint site (ConsumerAffairs) properly noting that Section 230 protected the site from liability over actions of its users. Meanwhile, the Canadian government sought to take down a parody site by the Yes Men, and it resulted in the ISP actually taking down 4,500 sites. Censorship at its finest.
We wrote about how automakers were abusing copyright law to force you to pay more for repairs. FCC boss Julius Genachowski's Facebook account spammed all his friends with a "make money now!" offer. And a court tossed out a silly class action lawsuit against Apple from people who said the iPod resulted in hearing loss.
Finally, we're only looking back five years here, but five years ago we wrote about how the blog MusicAlly was looking back at the major labels' "online strategies" from 2001. They weren't pretty, though the strategies were fairly amusing -- mostly focusing on proprietary formats and DRM. As we noted at the time, all of the strategies were focused on trying to recreate the old retail world where scarcity ruled. That's a really dumb strategy in an age of digital abundance.
Ten Years Ago:
It was (not surprisingly) a bit of a slow week. Minnesota kept trying to tax VoIP companies despite FCC rules saying that VoIP shouldn't be taxed like regular phone lines. Verizon's anti-spam system went haywire and just started blocking all foreign emails (that's one strategy...). Some music labels were apparently experimenting with sneaking spyware into media files (a bit of foreshadowing for the Sony rootkit scandal, which went public the following year).
We were also talking about early ride sharing programs, whether or not the internet was good or bad for social relationships, and musicians who realized it was good to give fans what they want. Oh yeah, we also discussed how you couldn't name your kid with a .com in his name in China.
Fifteen Years Ago:
Our final post of 1999 pointed out that the Y2K bug scare didn't actually result in that much business. Some had been predicting that "fixing" the Y2K bug would be a boost to some tech companies' bottom lines. Wired Magazine, which had bizarrely sold off its entire digital arm, including the wired.com domain name was trying to buy it back -- a deal that wouldn't actually be completed until 2006. ABC was getting (rightfully so) nervous about dot com bubble startups buying Superbowl Ads, asking those companies to pay cash up front. And just to show you how different things were in 1999, people were excited about the fact that DVDs were catching on, after some had expressed skepticism that they'd find a real market. Things have changed....
Thirty One Years Ago
AT&T was broken up as a monopoly by the US government. And, today, it's almost all the way back to a monopoly. Watch that pendulum swing...