Five Years Ago
This week in 2012, Google’s recently-unveiled tool for looking at DMCA takedown requests was revealing just how unbelievably stupid and bogus those requests so frequently are — but the RIAA was doing its best to blame its own failure to use the tools properly on Google, of course. Meanwhile, the government hit some speedbumps in its pursuit of Kim Dotcom when the New Zealand judge refused to rubber-stamp the extradition order, and the filings with the district court in the US revealed massive flaws in the government’s case. Also, it was this week in 2012 that the New York Times revealed the extensive and fascinating details of the Stuxnet worm, confirming that it was a US-led project in conjunction with Israel.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2007, the world was still trying to get its head around YouTube and the explosion of user-generated content. For some that meant pointing out how some of it sucks as if that means anything. For others (like governments around the world) that sometimes meant banning YouTube all together, or just trying to cleverly restrict user-generated content via “free trade” agreements. In Venezuela, however, YouTube became the new refuge for a traditional TV station that was shut down by the government.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2002, in the much earlier days of the DMCA, the EFF released a report detailing all the negative fallout of the anti-circumvention provisions for free speech, fair use, and innovation. Governments were struggling to figure out how national laws work on a borderless web, and Silicon Valley was realizing the necessity of dipping its toe into the Washington lobbying game. Meanwhile, Blockbuster was scrambling to go head-to-head with Netflix (and I think we all know how that worked out), online banking seemed to be finally taking off in the US (though that may have just been anecdotal), and the music industry was still not listening to the many people telling it what a big mistake it was making by shutting down Napster.
Two-Hundred And Twenty-Seven Years Ago
We recently noted the 1710 passage of the Statute of Anne, the original prototype copyright law — and this week we mark the formal beginning of the copyright saga in the US. It was on May 31st, 1790 that George Washington signed the Copyright Act into law. At the time, the Act was only half a page long, and applied only to books, maps, and charts — though musical compositions were routinely registered as books.