updated 11:10 am EDT, Wed May 2, 2007
HD DVD Key Rebellion
Digg.com 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."