The popular technology news social networking site, Digg, found itself on the receiving end of two cease and desist orders this week – one legal, and one in the form of its own users when Digg initially capitulated to the legal demand.
The fracas started when someone posted a code – code named HD-DVD Nacht – to crack the ecryption on HD DVDs created by Advanced Access Content Systems (AACS). This was of course huge because it is this encryption scheme which keeps you from copying your DVD to your hard drive, or to another DVD.
The site with the HD-DVD Nacht encryption cracking code was posted to Digg, and quickly got thousands of Diggs.
Then Digg got a cease and desist letter from AACS, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
So Digg took the article down.
But like the mythical Hydra, cutting it off at the head caused manyfold more new articles to be spawned.
When Digg removed the story, in response outraged Digg users submitted dozens of new articles, in nearly all of the different Digg categories, which in some fashion revealed the HD-DVD Nacht code. Even in such seemingly unrelated Digg topic areas as health, users found a way to work in the forbidden code.
Eventually the first four pages of Digg were a solid wall of HD-DVD Nacht stories, in all different categories, in some way referencing and repeating the HD-DVD Nacht code.
The harder Digg tried to keep with and take down the stories and honour the AACS’ cease and desist, the harder the Digg users pushed back. At some points the site was down, either due to overload or trying to remove the stories which had, again,
Finally, the Digg executives made a decision – their users had drawn a line in the sand and they heard the message loud and clear. Digg cleared the way for their users to post away to their hearts’ content, and Digg founder Kevin Rose posted on the Digg blog, under the subject (containing the HD DVD Nacht code) “Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0”
“We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.
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.
By the way, you can get HD-DVD Nacht encrption cracking code bumper stickers here!