Thursday, May 03, 2007

Digg and the magic number

The story of the magic number which is claimed to be the HD-DVD production key is quite amusing. In short: the key somehow leaked, someone put it onto their blog and then published the story on Digg. The company which produced the key started sending cease and desist letters to all blogs that published this number. Digg got one of those letters, and the owners of Digg decided to comply and removed the article. This action infuriated Digg users - they started writing incredible number of comments containing the number, and the bloggers all around the world started writing posts about it. And, as a result, Digg owners gave in. Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, put a post on his blog with the key number in the title, admitting that he heard the voice of the crowd, and that Digg will no longer remove the articles with the key. He said:

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.

The whole story in more detail is described, for example, here.

Just some of my thoughts on the topic:

  • This is probably the first case which shows the real power of the sites with user-generated content; or, to be more precise, of the users of such sites. This case might become an important turning point in the relations between users and site owners.

  • If the protection of HD-DVDs relies on a single number, then it’s in a sorry state indeed. I can’t believe that the developers of the protection thought the number will remain a mystery for any significant time.

  • The behavior of the AACS (the company developing the protection and requesting the removal of the key from blogs) is an example of total stupidity. Frankly, they couldn’t do more to promote publishing of the key in thousands of blogs. This is similar to the story of Herostratus. One can think that by now people should learn: issuing a decree to forget Herostratus isn’t the best way to make people forget him.

  • If someone needs another proof that DMCA went a little bit too far - here it is.

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1 comment:

Bad Wombat said...

You forgot to mention, that one of the results of the "Digg revolution" was that for several hours EVERY article on Digg front page contained the number. Which, by itself, is quite a fit. And I have to say, that I find "DMCA went a little bit too far" to be a bit weak. I would say something in the vein of "any proof that DMCA is one of the most mind-boggingly brain dead, retarded law in the history of this country..."