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The Great Digg Rebellion

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Chris Vallance | 09:41 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2007

I've been a bit to busy to post much about The Great Digg Revolt:

Attempts to gag the blogosphere from publishing details of a DVD crack have led to a user revolt.
The row centred on a 'cease and desist' letter sent by the body that oversees the digital rights management technology on high-definition DVDs. It requested that blogs and websites removed details of a software key that breaks the encryption on HD-DVDs.

The software key is a short series of hexadecimal numbers, (what you use if you count in 16's) the website where the revolt happened was Digg. They were initially removing posts containing the number, but after a user rebellion on the popular social news site, Digg top brass changed their tune and have (sort of) joined the revolution.

But why a revolution? Should people be publishing software cracks? One colleague described posting the number as "like putting up someone's PIN number online". I'm not sure. Generally I support the view that the way to fight DRM (if that's what you want to do) is through the democratic process, through the exercise of consumer power, and through the courts - not by hacking or piracy. But on the other hand the absurdity of to prevent people posting a number to the internet is plain for all the web to see, and has become a story covered in most of the UK broadsheet papers. In seeking to prevent their software being compromised, the people behind the take down notices have effectively ensured that the number is all over the internet.

And bloggers are employing some very inventive techniques to publish the number. In the middle of the afternoon a friend wrote to say she had found "280,000 references" to the number online. Other's I know have printed T-shirts with the number on, another has changed his IM message to include the number. One witty livejournal user who has created an account with the number listing some of the odd "get arounds" including, a rather charming song, and a tin badge with the number is on sale in Ebay. Of course, I suspect many of those doing these things are I'm sure, like me baffled by the remote control, let alone DVD encryption, what's interesting is how an attempt to control what people do on the net has exactly the opposite effect.


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