This Week In Techdirt History: August 16th – 22nd

Five Years Ago

Throughout these posts we’ve seen lots of snippets of the history of the Pirate Bay, and this week in 2010 we looked at an presentation by Peter Sunde that tells the whole story. Meanwhile, BitTorrent was beginning to directly promote creators who embrace alternative distribution, the porn industry was once again leading the way by embracing piracy and monetizing experiences, and the Kids In The Hall admitted to pirating their own show because it’s so hard to get legally. Amidst all this, a popular graph was going around suggesting that the web was dying because of its dwindling share of overall traffic, with P2P and video on the rise — but the absolute numbers told a different story.

Industry groups were negotiating net neutrality (again), and the recording industry saw this as an opportunity to link copyright infringement to child pornography (again). John Mellencamp was calling the internet an “atomic bomb” for music while U2’s manager was focusing on anonymous blogging as the core problem. Grooveshark was still going strong, but Universal Music pushed Apple into pulling it from the app store, while we pointed to a chart that nicely illustrated the utter insanity of music licensing.

Ten Years Ago

Five years before that, we were pointing out that the industry has to let go of DRM before it kills mobile music, and that exclusive mobile content deals don’t make any sense. We took a look at just how the DMCA came to be, and were happy to see someone finally fighting back against a RIAA lawsuit.

In the world of TV, executives were finally starting to realize that they had to embrace new technologies; in the world of movies, some theaters were trying to offer a better experience while others were blaming their slumps on the simple problem of bad movies; in the video game world people were freaking out as usual about violence while we pointed out that games actually suck for indoctrination; and in the newspaper world, it wasn’t exactly shocking to learn that the growth was happening online. But by far the most hyped medium was a relatively “new” one: podcasting.

Also this week in 2005, Google piqued a little bit of interest with the purchase of a small, secretive startup called “Android” that wouldn’t tell anyone what it was working on beyond “mobile software”. We expressed doubts that this meant Google would be developing a mobile OS, as some had surmised, and suggested that it was probably something to do with location-aware search and advertising. Little did we know…

Fifteen Years Ago

A lot of people were expressing doubts about Amazon recently in 2000, and this week the company hit back with numbers to show it’s not worried. Annother huge name at the time, RealNetworks, was rolling out a new business model that sounded a lot like premium cable. And who knew what the future would hold for these two companies…?

Digital marketing was all about targeting kids this week in 2000. They were, after all, way more likely than teens to click banner ads, and schools were such a great place for advertising to a captive audience. But why stop there? The Internet Underground Music Archive offered a prize to parents who would name their baby IUMA, and it didn’t take long to find the first winner.

In the world of futuristic tech (some of which remains futuristic) we saw looks at quantum computing and neural networks, surgery conducted with the aid of robots, and far out musings about controlling the weather with satellites and microwaves.

One-Hundred And Four Years Ago

With the onslaught of people who insist on calling infringement “theft”, it’s easy to forget that there’s also such a thing as real art theft. Perhaps the most high-profile example happened on August 21st, 1911, when the Mona Lisa was stolen by a Louvre employee who believed it should be returned to its native Italy. It wouldn’t be found for two years.

Amusingly, this instance of real stealing had an effect not unlike the “stealing” that oh-so-terribly happens online: it led to a massive increase in the Mona Lisa’s popularity. Prior to the theft, the painting wasn’t really known outside the art world, but international reporting of the theft and recovery (notwithstanding a significant public-attention detour after the sinking of the Titanic in between) is what turned it into the world’s most famous work of art.

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