History Of Piracy

  • Jan 1, 1452

    Gutenberg Invents Printing Press

    Johannes Gutenberg acquires business loan and revolutionizes print industry with printing press in Germany. Fails to pay back the loan and loses equipment and right to proceeds from the first mass-produced book, the Gutenberg Bible.
  • Nov 20, 1456

    Large Scale Production of Gutenberg Bible

    The first mass-produced book in European history also referred to as the 42-line Bible because most pages were precisely 42 lines.
  • Nov 20, 1476

    Caxton Introduces Printing Press to England

    William Caxton printed numerous texts of English classic literature, including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Caxton also translated editions into numerous languages.
  • Licensing Act of 1662

    The Licensing Act, passed in England in 1662, created a registry for authors to obtain licensing for their published work. Licensing also required submitting a copy of the work, the content of which was monitored by the Church. It was later repealed.
  • Statute of Anne

    Predecessor of modern copyright law, giving the primary fiscal benefit to authors and a limited amount of time until works were considered public domain.
  • US Constitution

    Article I § 8, Clause 8 states Congress has the right“. . .[t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries. . .”
  • Copyright Act of 1790

    United States Congress passed copyright legislation similar to England’s Statute of Anne, giving authors the sole rights to published works for a maximum period of 14 years and a potential 14-year extension. Limitations were in place to promote creativity.
  • Copyright Act Revision

    Author’s sole rights extended from 14 years to 28 years with a potential 14-year extension. Legislation was modified to more closely resemble current law in Europe.
  • Wheaton v. Peters

    Supreme Court determines the protection of copyright is not perpetually extended, limited to promote the creation of new work.
  • Folsom v. Marsh

    In a dispute about the use of letters written by George Washington in a book, the Supreme Court established the fair use doctrine.• Folsom v. Marsh and Its Legacy by L. Ray Patterson from University of Georgia School of Law claims the decision leading to the fair use doctrine was poorly reasoned.
  • Stowe v. Thomas

    Harriet Beecher Stowe sued a publisher that translated her novel into German and sold them in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that the translated novel did not infringe copyright since it was not a copy of the original.
  • Copyright Act Revision

    The Act established the Library of Congress Copyright Office.
  • Berne Convention

    An international treaty established to standardize copyright protection in all countries, eliminating the need for separate registries. The U.S. did not sign until 1988.
  • Copyright Act Revision

    The bill was expanded to protect all types of original work. Copyright protection increased to 28 years with the potential for 28 additional years.
  • The 8-inch floppy disk introduced

    The first removable magnetic medium and the first removable media, is developed by an IBM team led by David Noble.
  • Williams and Wilkins Co. v. United States

    Medical journal publishers filed suit against government agencies for copying and distributing articles to medical researchers for copyright infringement. The Supreme Court issued the decision that it fell within the fair use doctrine.
  • 1976 Copyright Act Revision

    Revisions included extending copyright protection to the author for life plus an additional fifty years, the codification of first sale and fair use doctrines, and protections for unpublished works. Additional revisions included provisions to the fair use doctrine to include unauthorized of copying and distribution of articles for educational use or research.
  • The National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works in 1976

    The Commission was established by Congress in 1976 to develop fair use guidelines for interlibrary loans and photocopying for educational purposes.
  • CBBS launched

    Ward Christensen's CBBS becomes the first Bulletin board system.
  • Usenet Created

    Usenet conceived by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corp. v. Crooks

    The Supreme Court determined that a school making copies of commercially produced videos and distributing them was not fair use.
  • Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc

    The Supreme Court of the United States finds that making individual copies of complete television shows for purposes of time-shifting is fair use. This case would create some interpretative challenges to courts in applying the case to more recent file sharing technologies available for use on home computers and over the Internet.
  • FTP Created

    File Transfer Protocol is standardized in RFC 959, authored by Postel and Reynolds. FTP allows files to be efficiently uploaded and downloaded from a central server.
  • Maxtone-Graham v. Burtchaell

    The Supreme Court ruled that quoting 4.3% of another author’s work was fair use.
  • 1988 Berne Convention

    The United States signed the Berne Convention treaty.
  • IRC Launched

    Internet Relay Chat is created by Jarkko Oikarinen. IRC users can exchange files via Direct Client-to-Client.
  • The World Wide Web proposed

    The World Wide Web is formally proposed by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau.
  • Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko’s Graphic Corp.

    The sale of coursepacks (copied textbooks repackaged and sold to student) was ruled a copyright infringement by a Federal district court in New York. The fair use doctrine did not apply to the education materials sold by Kinko’s.
  • Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc.

    Supreme Court ruling added a requirement of originality and personal expression in order for any work to receive copyright protection. The case, centering around a dispute about information compiled from a local phone book, does not qualify.
  • Mp3 file format created

    Mp3 is finalized as an ISO/IEC standard.
  • American Geophysical Union v. Texaco

    Texaco committed copyright infringement when their scientists copied full-length journal articles. The district court weighted the context of use of the material for profit and the considerable amount of material used in making the decision that Texaco should have obtained permission before copying and redistributing the material.
  • Software Publishers Association runs an anti-copyright infringement campaign Don't Copy That Floppy

    Software Publishers Association runs an anti-copyright infringement campaign Don't Copy That Floppy
  • Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Frena

    District court in Florida rules that lack of intent to infringe copyright is immaterial, but is crucial in determining damages. The case involved a digitized image from a Playboy publication that was posted on an electronic billboard and downloaded by another person.
  • Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.

    The fair use doctrine definition was expanded when the Supreme Court ruled the 2 Live Crew parody of “Pretty Woman” was fair use, the Court stipulating that the market for the parodied work and the original were very different.
  • Religious Technology Center v. Netcom

    Internet Service Provider (ISP) Netcom was found legally responsible for contributory infringement for failing to remove copyrighted material posted by a subscriber. Liability by ISPs was later limited under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998).
  • Princeton University Press, McMillan, Inc. and St. Martin’s Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc. and James Smith

    A for-profit copy shop located off-campus sold coursepacks comprised of copied materials that were sold to students. The Sixth Circuit Court ruled the copying and sale of copyrighted educational material was not fair use. Smith’s petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court was denied.
  • Scour Inc. is founded

    Scour Inc. is founded by five UCLA Computer Science students. Early products provide file search and download using the SMB protocol, as well as a multimedia web search engine released in 1998. Scour attracted early attention and support from media industry insiders before declaring bankruptcy in October 2000.
  • Winamp Player Released

    Winamp audio player is released, leading to increased use of mp3 files.
  • Copyright Term Extension Act

    Sonny Bono act extending copyright protection to author from life plus fifty years to life plus seventy years.
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

    Enacted criminal provisions for piracy of copyrighted software and digital material, limited copyright infringement liability for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in cases of subscribers posting copyrighted material and to educational institutions.
  • MPMan F10 released

    The MPMan F10, the first MP3 player, is launched.
  • Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act

    The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws passed UCITA, which proposed unified statutory approach to software licensing.
  • Napster created

    Napster is created by Shawn Fanning. Napster used a centralized structure where indexing and searching is performed on Napster servers. Individual files, however, remain on the hosts' computers and are transferred directly from peer to peer. In December 1999, the first lawsuits would be filed against Napster. Usage would peak in February 2001, with 26.4 million users. In July 2001, Napster would shut down its network to comply with an injunction.
  • Gnutella Launched

    Gnutella becomes the first decentralized file sharing network with the release of a network client by Justin Frankel and Tom Pepper of Nullsoft.
  • Freenet created

    Freenet is created by Ian Clarke. Its goal is to provide freedom of speech through a peer-to-peer network which focuses on protecting anonymity. Files are distributed across the computers of Freenet's users. Ian Clarke's paper would become the most-cited computer science paper of 2000.
  • 2001 Intellectual Property Protection Restoration Act Introduced by Leahy

    The Bill introduced by Leahy challenged the State’s right to protect its own copyright interests and simultaneously infringe on others.
  • A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc.

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the music file- sharing system known as “Napster” committed repeated infringements of copyright law as millions of users uploaded and downloaded copyright protected sound recordings. Shortly after Napster shuts down.
  • Kazaa Launched

    The Kazaa Media Desktop client came bundled with malware. Legal action in the Netherlands would force an offshoring of the company, renamed Sharman Networks. In September 2003, the RIAA would file suit against private individuals allegedly sharing files via Kazaa. In September 2005, UMA v. Sharman would be ruled against Sharman by the Federal Court of Australia. Sharman's non-compliance would prompt censorship of the program in Australia. In June 2006, the MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. wou
  • BitTorrent released

    BitTorrent released by Bram Cohen.
  • Limewire beta released

    LimeWire Gnutella client is released under open source.
  • Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

    Supreme Court ruling that works in the public domain could be reproduced for profit without citing the original author.
  • The Pirate Bay launched

    The Pirate Bay bittorrent tracker is founded by Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, and Peter Sunde. It is based in Sweden. It has remained active despite numerous legal actions and a police raid in May 2006. As of October 22, 2010, it is the 96th most popular site on the Internet according to Alexa.
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster

    Digital file sharing company found responsible for secondary copyright infringement.
  • Megapload Launched

    Megaupload one-click hosting service is launched.
  • Field v. Google

    The Supreme Court ruled that reproduction of an author’s work in Google website cache is not copyright infringement.
  • The Pirate Bay Raided

    The servers of the Swedish website The Pirate Bay are raided by 50 Swedish police officers, causing it to go offline for three days.
  • RIAA v. Limewire

    Limewire provides peer-to-peer downloads of digital files. The company was found liable for copyright violation and is paying settling the case for $105 million.