Fighting the Man: The Digg Story

When someone posted the code that decrypts HD-DVD format DRM on the social news site Digg, Digg administrators took down posts and banned accounts over it. Little did anyone know, that was just the beginning of a tremendous uproar.

What’s the big Deal?

The controversy started when a Digg user posted a string of hexadecimal code that is used to decrypt the DRM on the HD-DVD format. That string can be used with certain software to allow the playback of HD-DVD content on Linux systems, which are otherwise unsupported by the movie industry.

The original story received thousands of Diggs from site users, then, vanished all of the sudden. The majority of the community was outraged by the “censorship,” and began reposting the code in dozens of new stories to be dugg. Those too were very short-lived, but the community had already noticed the effect.

Along with stories removed, users accounts were banned from Digg for posting the code. At first, the Digg co-founder Jay Adelson responded to the community:

“We’ve been notified by the owners of this intellectual property that they believe the posting of the encryption key infringes their intellectual property rights. In order to respect these rights and to comply with the law, we have removed postings of the key that have been brought to our attention. Whether you agree or disagree with the policies of the intellectual property holders and consortiums, in order for Digg to survive, it must abide by the law.”

Some of the users of Digg pointed out that Diggnation had been sponsored by HD-DVD, which made for quite the conversation. After the course of what seemed like a full-blown digg revolt, founder Kevin Rose posted to the digg blog:

“But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, 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.”

So what’s the verdict? Only time will tell, but I’m sure that cough* lawsuits cough* will follow. We will keep you updated.

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