This Week In Techdirt History: December 29th – January 4th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014/15, we reveled in the tradition of governments dropping news on Christmas Eve in the hopes that nobody will pay attention to it — employed by the NSA in releasing details on its illegal surveillance of Americans and by the French government to enact a controversial surveillance law of its own. Sony was caught infringing in copyright in a stark example of how broken the system is, while we used the notion of a movie about the big Sony hack to explore the unnecessary licensing of news stories. Comcast and Time Warner Cable were doing their darnedest to convince people their merger would be just fine, even though they were in fact the least-liked companies in any industry. And we took another look at how copyright makes culture disappear.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009/10, Amazon announced that Kindle ebooks outsold physical books for Christmas, but we noted that “sold” isn’t exactly the right word for DRM-laden licensed rentals, which change the equation on the value of a Kindle and were already forcing customers to stick with bad products — and the distinction was also becoming important in the music world with questions about licenses stopping at the border. We also looked at how automakers were abusing anti-circumvention laws to force people to pay more for car repairs, and how the UK’s Digital Economy Bill was projected to cost more than the highest estimates on the cost of piracy. Zynga was making copyright threats over a script for auto-playing Mafia Wars, and the Viacom/YouTube fight was hit with the embarrassing revelation that Viacom uploaded many of the videos it was suing over.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004/05, the popular technopanic was blaming wireless technology for everything under the sun — though at least one study was putting to bed the idea that it would interfere with pacemakers. Among the biggest sources of tech excitement was “nanotechnology”, which we were beginning to realize was often just a rebranding of existing fields. Meanwhile, Wired took a detailed look at just how big and organized the file-sharing community was, while one anti-piracy group was caught hiding spyware and adware in Windows Media files.

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