This Week In Techdirt History: March 15th – 21st

Five Years Ago

This week in 2010, the Viacom/YouTube lawsuit started in earnest with the motions for summary judgement from both sides, most of which appeared to be a lot of he-said-she-said. As the week wore on, though, the cracks started to show: Viacom couldn’t figure out which clips were actually infringing (despite insisting that Google should be able to do so), and people realized that a lot of YouTube quotes in Viacom’s filing were taken completely out of context. YouTube’s motions, on the other hand, highlighted how industry lawsuits may have slowed innovation, and we wondered if the whole case might lead to an FTC investigation.

Over in the UK, Simon Singh stopped writing his Guardian column to fight the British Chiropractic Association’s libel lawsuit against him for calling them out on their many pseudoscientific claims. A commission was calling for a tax on Google to prop up newspapers (while Google was telling newspapers to experiment), and the Times Online was blocking aggregators after a ruling that the latter didn’t have to pay a license fee. But perhaps the biggest news was the passage of the Digital Economy Bill through the House of Lords, which had only one positive outcome: it garnered another hilarious message song from Dan Bull.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2005, Kevin Martin took over as FCC chair following Michael Powell; INDUCE Act author Orrin Hatch was put in charge of the Senate’s copyright panel; bad stats were misleading people about reactions to copy protection; and we were wondering about the balance between privacy and anti-piracy efforts (while AOL was actively sacrificing the privacy of AIM users). Internet jurisdiction questions were still heated and unsettled, and strange legal ideas were popping up all over the world such as an attempt by an Indian newspaper to claim that ongoing criticism was a criminal conspiracy. Meanwhile, the MPAA was searching for the legal theory that would make BitTorrent trackers illegal.

France was beating up Google on trademark issues while embarking on its own book scanning project; Apple managed to wrestle away from its previous owner; the NY Times was toying with the idea of charging for content; eBay was embroiled in a business model patent mess; and Yahoo was backtracking on claims that it would fully support Firefox.

Fifteen Years Ago

Would it blow your mind to know that, unlike today, in 2000 the entertainment industry was still struggling with the internet? Oh, they still are? Never mind then.

Those struggles included, but where not limited to: the question of used CDs online, a cancelled merger between CDNow and Columbia House, and the creation of and subsequent freakout over Gnutella, the P2P file-sharing network. Meanwhile, some people were already cluing in to the idea that live performance is where it’s at.

Also in 2000 this week: rumours flew (as they would again in later years) that eBay and Yahoo were merging; Microsoft tried revitalizing MSN for the umpteenth time; Network Solutions got hit with a big class-action lawsuit; Stephen King tried releasing an online-only novel; and seemed to be in trouble.

Oh, and it appears that we may have accidentally coined the name “iPad” ten years early.

Thirty Years Ago

Techdirt was still a decade away (and I myself was still five months away), but on March 15th, 1985, the first commercial internet domain name — — was registered. The site that lives there now purports to offer “unique and interesting facts pertaining to business and Internet history”, but seems to be a little light on content.

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