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HD DVD key posting triggers rebellion

updated 11:10 am EDT, Wed May 2, 2007

HD DVD Key Rebellion has been at the center of a backlash, according to the company's co-founder Kevin Rose. The voting-based news site started a controversy when posts were made linking to Boing Boing's posting hexadecimal code for the AACS decryption key used by HD DVDs, which effectively allows programs to play the normally protected movie format. The company initially tried to suppress the submissions by deleting posts and associated comments, citing requests by intellectual property holders to take the information down or else risk legal action.

"Our goal is always to maintain a purely democratic system for the submission and sharing of information - and we want Digg to continue to be a great resource for finding the best content," Digg's Jay Adelson wrote at first. "However, in order for that to happen, we all need to work together to protect Digg from exposure to lawsuits that could very quickly shut us down."

The crackdown has triggered an apparent open rebellion against the policies of both Digg and the AACS key managers, according to reports. Well over 50,000 votes were cast on separate stories for the Digg technology section front page alone, preventing the company's post moderators from successfully banning or deleting posts containing the controversial code. Roughly 300,000 search results in Google now turn up third-party sites with the information.

The response has persuaded Kevin Rose to relent and allow the submitted stories on Digg, saying that the sheer volume of responses indicated a clear belief by its users that the risk of a site shutdown through cease-and-desist notices was outweighed by the importance of resisting what end-users feel is an overbearing attempt by companies to silence critics of AACS and other copy protection schemes.

"You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you," said Rose. "And effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."

by MacNN Staff




  1. OS2Guy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hear! Hear! Digg!

    The owners of Digg are to be applauded and heralded as true Americans. It's too bad Apple's Mac Forums and NN walk with an empty gonad sac.


  1. chas_m



    There's brave ...

    ... and then there's stupid.

    The users of Digg can jolly well protest the RIAA/MPAA on their OWN sites or in their OWN ways risking their OWN money, bandwidth and livelihoods, rather than Kevin's.

  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Be a pirate!

  1. brlittle

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Digg's users are neither courageous nor, I suspect, all that concerned with intellectual property rights. They _are_, on the other hand, self-congratulatory, juvenile, and without foresight. I'm not fond of the DMCA, nor of attempts to suppress the free flow of legitimate information.

    But I'm bleeding well not going to sit down and ask someone else to take my flak, either. Way to go've scored a real victory. Against yourselves.

  1. alexs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What this is really about

    I respectfully disagree with brlittle and chas_m's characterization of this Digg incident as "juvenile" and "stupid." While some of the specific postings (okay, many of them) were silly and sophomoric, the message they send is an important one: DRM and copy protection are a lost cause.

    That's not to say that breaking copy protection is currently legal. But at some point you have to wonder when the content providers and their representative organizations will wake up and realize that just because they have a right to use and enforce copy protection doesn't mean that's what they SHOULD do.

    I'm not talking about appealing to their sense of fairness, but rather the realities of an utterly interconnected world. Case in point: The cease and desist letters intended to remove references to the HD-DVD code have actually led to an exponential increase in its visibility.

    Better, I think, to offer their products at reasonable prices in unprotected form, as that would encourage people to pay for their content and forgo the hassle and ethical dilemma of illegal cracking/downloading. Or, in the specific case of HD-DVD, to ensure their content plays on as many platforms (re: Linux) as possible.

    If the content companies put half the effort they currently expend on enforcing copy protection into giving people what they want at a fair price without such encumbrances, they would be surprised at how much better off they'd be.

    Unquestionably, the iTunes/EMI agreement to offer high-quality, DRM-free tracks will be a revealing test case for this very notion.

    In the meantime, while I pity Digg for being hijacked into a "rebellion," it's hard to argue with the fact that their whole site is based on this very kind of "mob rule" model. You gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose.


  1. lockhartt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    while I agree...

    ...that DRM should be done away with in terms of music, I have issues with the video dilemma.

    There are few (arguably very few) companies based upon renting music... the arguably-successful subscription-based music services being the exception. Video rental, OTOH, is core business model for a number of companies (though fewer than there once were).

    If we remove DRM from all things digital, we must then: 1) ban services that deal in the "temporary" distribution of media (i.e. subscription-based and/or rental-based service) to prevent abuse of non-DRM media; 2) leave DRM in place for subscription- and rental-based businesses (complicated at best, not to mention cost of providing encrypted and unencryptes media based on use) to prevent copying of such "promiscuous" media; or 3) start from scratch to create some new model/mechanism that serves to protect copyright holders without unecessarily impairing use by the consumer.

    Good luck...

  1. lockhartt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...ignore typos in previous quickly-typed and interrupted post :)

  1. alexs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the rental issue

    You make an interesting point, lockhartt. The only thing I would argue is that, for a while now, people have been able to easily crack and illegally copy DVDs, whether rented at Blockbuster, mailed through Netflix or loaned from their local libraries.

    Again, I think it comes down to trusting that, if given a quality product at a fair price that works without restriction, most people will opt to pay a fee for convenience rather than going to the trouble of downloading illegally just to save a few bucks.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    too many features

    if you start adding features like playlists and shuffle within lists, the device is going to get cumbersome to use. There's a reason why the iPod shuffle doesn't have very many features.

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