This Week In Techdirt History: February 28th – March 5th

Five Years Ago

We saw some great stuff coming from Congress this week in 2011. Senator Ron Wyden demanded debate over the Patriot Act, Senator Chuck Schumer promoted the idea that websites should switch to HTTPS, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren challenged the IP Czar on the legality of ICE’s recent domain seizures (which the agency’s boss was struggling to defend). On the flipside, Repell Issa was making some more problematic comments to the IP Czar, while Senator Al Franken was still fighting for COICA and internet censorship.

On the side of creators and the IP industries, we saw Hollywood complaining that Oscar-winning films get downloaded more, HarperCollins trying to limit library ebook lending, Righthaven was suing a radio giant over a caption contest, Rosetta stone was calling Google “a gateway for criminals”, and the Tolkien estate was trying to block the mere mention of Tolkien’s name. To counterbalance all this, we did at least see Minecraft creator Markus Persson pushing back against the “lost sale” fallacy, and Moby calling for the reinvention (or death) of the major record labels.

Ten Years Ago

There were plenty of similar shenanigans this week in 2006. Hollywood techies were raising concerns about the industries fervent push to plug the analog hole, schools in Australia were facing a bunch of new copyright fees, we discovered just how insane Canada’s blank CD tariff situation is, photographers emerged as one of the few groups opposed to orphan works legislation, and the RIAA was still indiscriminately suing everyone (and recently started targeting satellite radio) while its boss was trying to coin the term “songlifting” to replace piracy.

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years before that, in 2001, the RIAA had similarly acquired a new target: internet service providers. Lots of people were mulling over potential business models for a legitimate Napster, with some suspecting we’d be seeing the offering very soon. Meanwhile, alternatives were everywhere, such as Gnutella (which was facing trademark threats from the makers of the popular hazelnut spread) and a curious, hacker-ish alternative called ShareSniffer (the methodology of which seemed related to a big data breach at Indiana University).

“Weblogs” were catching on; the CueCat was not. Early discussions about 3D printers were underway. Some were wondering about the future of booksellers in an Amazon world, and others were looking even further ahead to the future of books in an ebook world.

Seventy-Seven Years Ago

Online resources are not without their errors, but at least those errors tend to get rapidly found and corrected. In the world of print, an error that crept into a book could often remain there for years. Such is the case with “dord” — a “ghost word” that was mistakenly added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1931 and wasn’t discovered until February 28, 1939. Merriam-Webster’s excellent Ask The Editor videos include an explanation of how exactly this happened.

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