This one angers me, even though I have nothing to do with what’s going on.
Recently, someone cracked a key component of the HD-DVD encryption scheme (nerd link) – A magic number that is essentially the DRM password. This allows hackers to circumvent the DRM on those movies. The number means nothing to people like you and me. And on any other day, the story would have died at that.
But the story took a shady turn when Digg users started reporting being banned for submitting news about this now-infamous number. Slashdot, a news site with editors, posted the story. Reddit, a competing social news service, also let those stories fly.
Aside from the legal and ethical issue of whether or not anybody can claim copyright to a number, it is highly concerning that Digg is going above and beyond in censoring this story.
They have also began banning users for:
- criticizing the bans
- submitting caches, mirrors, or other posts on the bans
- submitting caches, mirrors, or other posts on the original topic
- submitting anything related
- trying to submit stories as discussion boards on the topic
The reaction from users is mostly expected: the number of people Digging anything and everything related to the issue is growing like mad. These stories are getting tens of thousands of Diggs in a matter of hours before being deleted. And, thanks to Digg’s actions, people like me are now well aware of what’s happening.
If they had just let the story simmer to the top and fade away at midnight, I would not be writing this right now. I mean, who cares that hackers cracked DRM, right? That happens every day. But for Digg to essentially backpedaled on their entire premise — well that is news.
And then news broke that Digg received a sponsorship from HD-DVD a few months ago. Digg users are pissed. Now, who knows if that’s paranoid speculation, but the truth is that Digg’s competitors are putting up the stories and Digg is ripping them down as fast as possible. People are reporting that stories are being banned within minutes of being submitted, users are getting IP banned, and that entire URLs and keywords are being blocked from submission titles. This is most disturbing because there have been tons of instances in the past where Digg turned a blind eye to illegal material.
And the notion of copyrighting numbers is already insane. So, had the encryption key been Pi, would we not be able to post Pi anywhere? Clearly, that’s not true. This whole thing stinks of DMCA takedown abuse. And Digg bent over to receive it. Now a whole lot of people are angry with Digg, especially some of its most loyal and committed users who are reporting this issue.
It’s a Digg Revolt, folks (that story won’t show up in any of the top 10s). Read the comments for lots of angry people threatening to quit Digg. Well, I like Reddit more anyway, but now I have substantiated proof as to why.
If YouTube taught us anything, it’s that the DMCA requires reactive, not proactive, policing. Digg was in no legal trouble so long as it was responding to the DMCA requests it was getting, which asked nothing of banning users, and certainly couldn’t have specified newer submissions. They went above and beyond in trying to bury this anti-DRM story. Nobody forced their hand here.
Clearly, Digg follows the “community decides with their votes” mantra only when it doesn’t offend their sponsors.