Digg Firestorm over HD-DVD Hack (AACS Key)

I don’t have time for a full post right now, but I’m finding this firestorm at Digg over the posting of the HD-DVD AACS Key incredibly interesting.

Here is a really good interview with the Digg CEO on the issue.

I’ll post more links & articles later. But in case you haven’t read about this yet, here is the deal:

  • The new security system for HD-DVD has been cracked. It’s called AACS, and it requires unique keys embedded in the new high definition DVDs & players. A key is just a 16-byte number.
  • This number has been posted on a lot of blogs and websites. Some of those have made their way to Digg, which is a cite where users can mark their favorite posts, and share & discuss them with others.
  • Digg, citing their policy on posts that contain illegal content, took down some of these posts for fear of legal liability.
  • The community was infuriated and revolted, stating that this was a free speech issue, reportedly reposting the content over 800,000 times!
  • Digg relented, and decided that their community wanted them to go down fighting, and let the content stay.

In particular, this statement from Digg is really powerful. For any online company that depends on their community, this is something to really think deeply about and internalize. Here is the post from the founder:

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. 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.

Digg on,