from the berned dept
Five Years Ago
There was a whole lot of conversation about ACTA this week in 2010. More leaks revealed the positions of more countries, Danish politicians began questioning the country's opposition to ACTA transparency, Sweden said it won't agree if any changes to the law are required, the EU apparently agreed that more transparency was needed, and the USTR admitted its desire for ACTA to cover patents too. Meanwhile, the UK was grappling with its own Digital Economy Bill — making it worse with a new web censorship aspect, trying to outlaw weblockers, and ensuring open WiFi would be a liability.
There was more copyright insanity, too. We learned that Metallica, still famous for bringing down Napster, made only a small fraction of its revenues from CD sales; Brazil sued Columbia Pictures for violating the copyright on its famous Jesus statue; Activision killed a fan game project that had been previously licensed; Spanish indie labels tried to sue the government for not stopping file sharing; and the RIAA claimed that file sharing was undermining human rights efforts in Haiti (right).
Ten Years Ago
Record labels misunderstanding the market was hardly new to 2010. It was happening this week in 2005, too. BPI proudly announced 23 pointless file sharing settlements. Sony was among the worst, demonstrating that it was completely out of touch (and also shutting down a tribute band website, but it wasn't alone. Meanwhile, many popular musicians were taking Grokster's side at the supreme court — only for the industry to try to convince them they'd been used.
Also in 2005: LinkedIn was trying out a business model while XM was monkeying with its own, the widely publicized hack of Paris Hilton's phone turned out to be good for T-Mobile, driving while talking on a cellphone was catching on, and so were alternate reality games (except, apparently not that much), and we could tell Firefox had really made it as an browser when spyware makers started to notice it.
Fifteen Years Ago
Mind-controlled computing is one of those things that seems to have been just around the corner for a very long time — since at least 2000, in fact. But hey, this was a time when CD sales were still rising, and other things still just around the corner included the wireless internet (which similarly seemed to be taking forever). Online gambling was big, B2B was (probably) bigger, and we just began to notice how big the databases of our personal information are (which was scary at a time when hacks could still significantly undermine general public confidence in the internet). Some still wondered if perhaps pen and paper was better for notes and tests — but maybe just keeping the web pages under 5K would be sufficiently old-fashioned.
Twenty-Six Years Ago
On March 1st, 1989, after a long period of resistance, the United States joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which continues to influence (though not really directly shape or control) copyright policy around the world. The US still exercises what some have called "minimal compliance" with the convention, and that's probably a good thing, or at least better than total compliance — US copyright law barely includes the prohibitive moral rights called for by Berne, and while a registration requirement and other formalities were (sadly) removed in general, Congress retained them as a prerequisite for statutory damages. Which is, y'know, something.