This Week In Techdirt History: January 14th – 20th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we were shook by the sad news of Aaron Swartz’s death. Through the week, we looked at the actions of prosecutors and investigators and the fact that in the US “anyone interesting is a felon”, and at all the other crimes that would have resulted in less jail time than Swartz was facing. But we also looked at what we should learn from him moving forward, about how to build up instead of tearing down, and how “content” can’t be the end-game of knowledge, and we watched as researchers posted their work online for free in tribute.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while NBC Universal was arguing in favor of ISP filtering and copy protection tech, the recording industry was kinda-sorta getting over its obsession with DRM — and moving to other stupid ideas like digital watermarks and annoying anti-piracy voiceovers on review copies instead. The DMCA was being abused to go after bad reviews, the EFF was making the argument that “making available” is not infringement, and J.K. Rowling was trying to block a third-party Harry Potter guidebook — and amidst this we noted that it seems like most people don’t actually know what copyright is for.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, some people thought it looked like Hollywood’s copyright control was loosening a little, but we weren’t so optimistic. Indeed, that very week the Supreme Court upheld retroactive copyright extension in the Eldred ruling despite Lawrence Lessig’s best efforts (though there was potentially some silver lining). The music and tech industries announced a rather worrying policy agreement that would see the latter stop fighting for user rights in exchange for the former dropping its calls for mandatory hardware-level DRM, though the agreement ended up being largely meaningless and, of course, was completely spurned by the MPAA. Meanwhile those movie studios were being strangled by their own IP obsession while trying to navigate the licensing thicket to get older movies online.

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