This Week In Techdirt History: May 24th – 30th

Five Years Ago

Boy was there a lot of copyright nonsense going on this week in 2010. The first 5,000 Hurt Locker filesharing lawsuits hit the courts, while another shakedown operation (ACS:Law) was trying to trick users into incriminating themselves with questionnaires, and yet another (US Copyright Group) was trying to pin liability on ISPs that don’t cough up customer info; James Murdoch delivered a confused lecture on copyright at University College London, the Senate was considering a bill that would give Customs officers the authority to check for DMCA-violating anti-circumvention devices, and we saw copyright fights over the 2000-year-old Tao Te Ching and Einstein’s likeness. Politicians couldn’t seem to stop using unlicensed music in commercials, while Canada’s industry minister admitted he breaks copyright law frequently.

On the flipside, however, Lady Gaga was saying it’s no problem if people download her music, OK Go and Amanda Palmer teamed up to celebrate escaping their record labels, and Joe Konrath was explaining why authors shouldn’t fear file sharing. Some big movie studios were embracing fan fiction, Blizzard was taking a stand against DRM, and the ABA Journal was highlighting how the music industry is thriving and copyright isn’t so important. Amidst all this, we wondered if you could replace copyrights and patents with fairness-based liability and examined how the fashion industry thrives without copyright.

Also this week in 2010, we announced the Techdirt Saves* Journalism event.

Ten Years Ago

In 2010 James Murdoch was lecturing universities, but the same week in 2005 we discovered that DMCA champion Jon Dudas was lecturing schoolchildren. Publishers were freaking out about Google’s book scanning project, MPAA-head Dan Glickman was blaming technology for everything, Sony Music’s CEO was trying to stop the tide of change, and the Senate was a total echo chamber on copyright issues. A Billboard writer was on a crusade against Creative Commons while the recording industry was on a crusade against anyone having any fun with music at all. TV networks were trying to lock down content using the broadcast flag (but at least some were pointing out that it’s a bad idea).

Spyware was also a big target this week in 2005, with the House passing not one but two bills designed to counter it while some debated the complex legal questions of what exactly spyware is (and Microsoft fought to make sure that definition didn’t hurt them).

This week in 2005 was also when we heard the (finally true) rumors that Apple would be switching to Intel chips.

Fifteen Years Ago

Back in innocent 2000, people were still grappling with just how much technology changes our lives, which of course included lots of internet backlash. Some countries were presaging the future — like Japan, where cell-phone web access was way ahead of the US — while others were clinging to the past — like France, which was looking at requiring registration to put a website. People were growing to like and trust online media, though the same cannot be said for summer blockbuster movie websites or Ticketmaster’s online service. And of course, the record industry was attempting to blame Napster for decreased CD sales, despite their own numbers showing the big drop happened pre-Napster.

Four-Hundred And Twenty Years Ago

There’s a mostly-dead word, “nomenclator”, that contains within itself an interesting history of humans and our relationship with information. In classical times, it referred to a slave who helped a politician remember people’s names, then to someone whose job was to remember all kinds of information for someone, and to the person who announces arrivals at a party or gathering. But in 1595, it took on an entirely different, non-human meaning: a catalogue of a library’s contents. On May 24, the Leiden University Library opened with the first ever such book — the Nomenclator autorum omnium, quorum libri vel manuscripti, vel typis expressi exstant in Bibliotheca Academiae Lugduno-Batavae (List of all authors whose books, whether manuscript or printed, are available in Leiden University Library).

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