back to article Digg buried by users in piracy face-down

Social news aggregator Digg was repeatedly brought down yesterday by users angry that it had bowed to the anti-piracy lobby. The firestorm began when Digg's administrators acted on a Advance Access Content System (AACS) cease and desist order, which demanded it remove the link to an article revealing the encryption key for HD- …

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  1. Jesse Melton

    All hail

    the customer driven business. A long time ago the customer was the #1 priority and most businesses would "go down fighting" before the caved under outside pressures.

    Now let's see if they put the $ where their mouth is next time they get a C&D.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

    YES! This is what I want to see - open, deliberate, concerted acts of DEFIANCE by a community up in arms against the scourge of DRM. We need more, much more, of this type of behaviour to let our governments and corporations know that enough is enough, and we will not take any more. The line stops here.

    Golden kudos to the Digg community for having the courage to stand up and fight back. And platinum kudos to Digg.com and its staff for having the courage to "go down fighting". When the MPAA tyranny responds to this bag of kittens, it's going to be front-page news around the world.

    Draw your swords, men! The real war has started.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIP Digg

    Well, it looks to me like the management of Digg have made a very bad decision - their efforts in removing all posts featuring the code proved that they have the power to remove them - deciding not to now puts them in a very dubious position with regards to the DMCA. It's a shame that one of the leading lights of web 2.0 will now most likely be forced to close, because their user base think that repeatedly posting a decryption key they will probably never use is anything more than a misguided attempt to "fight the power".

  4. Ian Ferguson

    Just shows how useless Digg is

    As much as I agree with the anti-DRM sentiment, I can't help pointing out how this illustrates what a waste of time Digg is. All it adds up to is a mob-driven soapbox with no actual value or interesting opinion, driven by whatever is getting the crowds' backs up. A bit like the Daily Mail...

  5. Walter Riggs

    Can't stop the signal

    Sorry Digg... had to do it. Free the information, free the world.

  6. Chris Dupont

    Cowardly and thuglike behaviour

    ... on behalf of the Digg user population. It is not heroic to perform DOS attacks on a site in protest. How many people who spammed digg have written to their congressman, gone on a march, boycotted CDs/DVDs, etc?

    Mass petty vandalism is what it was.

  7. Karl Lattimer

    All I have to say is...

    I've got your number ;P

  8. Marc

    I don't know...

    I seem to be one of the few who don't care the least about DRM...

    I'm probably also one of a rare breed who's a little upset at the defiant ones on Digg. What if the whole plan of theirs backfired and Digg got shut down (or, now, 'gets' shut down) for an extended period? Indefinitely?

    I can't imagine a very large percentage of the 1-million users on the site were part of this revolt. I'm seeing them as bad apples that could potentially cause some ripples that effect 'all' the users, more than they already have.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Censorship?

    Of course The Register would never stoop so low as to censor comments would it?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Censorship?

    Of course the Register would NEVER censor a story.

    In fact, once when I ████████████ and ████████████, it then went ████████████ until President ████████████ ████████████ it with a melon.

  11. Webster Phreaky

    Kevin Rose is a Corp Freebee Pimp Anyway!

    Give me a freakin break! Kevin Rose is one of the Biggest Corporate Freebee Pimps around, only surpassed by radio's Leo Laporte and Marc Cohen. All take free products to get their commmercial endorsements directly or indirectly, name dropping and biased recommendations with NO public disclosures of what's really going on!

    Watch ANY of the Digg videocasts beginning from last year and see Kevin Rose with his FREE Lenovo notebook and black MacBook. He and buddy Laporte have been garnering freebees for endoresements since the beginning of their involvements with cables ZDTV through the end of G4 TV. Never a disclosure.

    Rose and Digg aren't any Web 2.0 "counter culture heros", just your typical media phony's.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inquisition

    DRM and suppression of the information required to crack it is starting to remind me of the Inquisition. Once the knowledge is in the open it can't be suppressed.

  13. Steve Anderson

    Copyright, patents and the DMCA

    "Please don't bother trying to post the encryption key on our comment section. We are bound by UK copyright and patents law, not to mention the DMCA. Comments carrying the key will be rejected."

    Last time I checked you couldn't copyright a number, nor patent software in the UK, a jurisdiction that the DMCA doesn't apply to. And this is TheRegister.co.uk, a UK website, presumably hosted in the UK. I rather think you mean to say "Please don't bother trying to post the encryption key on out comment section. We can't be bothered trying to pick apart international legal mumbo-jumbo, so we're doing a blanket ban."

    If you *can* copyright a number, I'll be registering 2007 as a trademark immediately.

  14. Frank Thomas

    Reply to Marc

    You know, I though about the possibility that digg would be shut down, and it comes down to this. if digg collaborated with the emeny, and withdrew the postings, then i have no reason to be there. they can go hang, so to me it makes little difference that they got shut down.

    the only issue us whether it happened because they're honorable warriors of the net generation, who were heinously slain by DMCA toting demons, or if they were simply abandoned because everyone realized that they are oppression-supporting corporate shills. a Martyr or a forgotten money-grubber. that all. either way this shows exactly whats wrong with the DMCA. laws that have no support from the people have no business existing in democratic society, but the few corporate overlords seem to have more influence than a nation full of voters...

  15. Frank Thomas

    Reply to Marc

    You know, I though about the possibility that digg would be shut down, and it comes down to this. if digg collaborated with the emeny, and withdrew the postings, then i have no reason to be there. they can go hang, so to me it makes little difference that they got shut down.

    the only issue us whether it happened because they're honorable warriors of the net generation, who were heinously slain by DMCA toting demons, or if they were simply abandoned because everyone realized that they are oppression-supporting corporate shills. a Martyr or a forgotten money-grubber. that all. either way this shows exactly whats wrong with the DMCA. laws that have no support from the people have no business existing in democratic society, but the few corporate overlords seem to have more influence than a nation full of voters...

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  17. Drew Cullen (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

    Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 - yes we gave done our homework.

    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880048_en_3.htm#mdiv16

    <snip>

    24.—(1) Copyright in a work is infringed by a person who, without the licence of the copyright owner—

    (a) makes,

    (b) imports into the United Kingdom,

    (c) possesses in the course of a business, or

    (d) sells or lets for hire, or offers or exposes for sale or hire,

    an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of that work, knowing or having reason to believe that it is to be used to make infringing copies.

    </snip>

    In any case, The Register's parent company is incorporated in the US as well as the UK. And we have servers in the US as well as the UK. So don't get me started on the DMCA...

    Drew Cullen

    El Reg

  18. Jonathan Richards

    Reply to Steve

    Hey, Steve

    There's a difference between copyright and trademark, y'know. Marmite is a trademark, but I can write Marmite Marmite Marmite and not be sued. I agree with you though, the hex string in question isn't subject to copyright, patent or trademark protection in the UK and shouldn't be anywhere else. IANAL, of course.

  19. Luca Spiller

    It isn't illegal over here

    The number is only illegal in America according to Wikipedia, The Inquirer has an article displaying it (http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=39330).

    I am actually quite shocked (not really supprised though) as the behaviour of Digg users. They do not have a legal right to post whatever they want, and imo the removal and banning was fair.

    On the other hand I am amazed at how many people have posted the number around the internet........

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What am i missing?

    Sorry, but I find it hard to understand why people are getting so angry about this - what exactly do they expect to use the key for other than to make illegal copies of DVDs? Isn't that just the equivalent of stealing copies from their local video shop - would they consider that acceptable behaviour?

    As for the comment "Any form a DRM is simply illegal as it prevent users from enjoying content that was paid for!". But surely the DVD can be played in your DVD player? What exactly is it preventing you from doing - making illegal copies - did you expect that you had paid for that right when you bought the DVD???

    What worries me is the ongoing impact of all of this digital piracy. Sure, it may appear like a victimless crime, depriving a few big multimedia companies of some income, but what is the real impact of this in the long term...

    1. people will lose their jobs at these companies to protect profit margins

    2. the studios will neglect intelligent or creative projects instead favouring cheesey blockbusters which are a safer source of revenue

    3. the price of legal DVDs will rise to cover the cost of piracy

    4. future DRM mechanisms will be ever more restrictive

    Is that really the depressing future that everyone here is campaigning for?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freedom of speech? On my internets?

    I'm confused at the rallying behind the call of free speech. Last I checked, no privately-owned server on the internet was obligated to give visitors freedom of speech. At any time they can change the ToS, with or without notifying their customers. At any time they can ban or revoke someone's access for any reason they like. I'm astounded they're being so kind to what is basically a mob. Digg's admins could have easily turned around and wiped access for a day (possibly with a message 'See What You Did?'), banned the major offenders, grabbed a quick coffee, and put their feet up.

    Just think of the thousands of people who'd be temporarily completely lost at where to find anything on the internet.

  22. Stephen Hurd

    Damage liability

    Regardless of the number being copywritten, patented, subject to draconian DMCA rules, etc, posting the number shows the same level of social responsibility as gaining access to (say) the pentagon computers then posting a userID/password online.

    While posting the number itself, or a series of hex bytes comprising the number (you never see it in base 10 and rarely see it without separation between the individual bytes which makes the form it's posted in not a single number) is not illegal the same was as posting "killemall" isn't illegal. Posting it in the context of "This is one of the important pieces of information to bypass DRM" is just as actionable as posting "Joe Doe's password on the internal pentagon mainframe is ``killemall''" or (say) if El Reg decided one day to make all account holders email and password pairs public because they had a sudden dislike for their readers.

    Before anyone defends this behaviour, they should ask themselves how they would feel if their own passwords were posted in the same way.

    Anyone who belives posting the number is a Good Thing is barred from making the "We should torture the truth out of George W. Bush" point.

  23. Martin Owens

    Corrections

    The Register would be subject to the EUCD not the DCMA.

    > What am i missing?

    Your not a linux user you wouldn't understand, the only way we can legitimately play our paid for dvds is to break the DCMA/EUCD and run libdvdcss; there are plenty of people concerned that Linux users will once again be left out in the cold by a Blue-Ray and HD-DVD controlling body that wants load'sa money for licensed keys. Interestingly how an encryption mechanism were you give every user a key is supposed to work, I'm not sure. But the people in the media industry needed a placebo and that is what they got because none of these will protect you from pirates just stop peoples fair use and property rights.

  24. saintswithen

    Quel Courage

    "Please don't bother trying to post the encryption key... We are bound by ... law, not to mention the DMCA. Comments carrying the key will be rejected."

    Because you are afraid of receiving a cease and desist letter?

    Your fortitude in the face of the mere potential of a hostile correspondence is simply breathtaking. I am sure you have set hearts aflutter all across cyberspace.

    What ever happened to simply standing up for what is right?

    I am sure the RIAA et al is appreciative of you taking the time and expense to preemptively do their work for them without the RIAA having to spend a penny from its own pocket on lawyers, clerks, postage, etc. Since the RIAA is not well known for their gratitude, I will thank you for caving on their behalf.

  25. Mike Silver badge

    DRM, DMCA, Legality

    Finally a comment session worth getting an ElReg account to join.

    In semi-random order:

    DRM does not prevent piracy, in the "thousands of copies sold by shady folks" sense. A bit-for-bit copy, which the big-boys can certainly manage, will be every bit as (non)functional as the original. DRM _does_ do allow them to keep you from skipping the commercials, and keep you from buying movies from "the wrong territory". It also allows them to retroactively cancel your the purchase of a DVD player (by key-revocation) without, of course, giving your money back. Think of buying a candy-bar with a string attached that they can pull any time.

    Or coming out one morning to find your car gone, with no recourse.

    DMCA may technically not apply to UK residents/businesses, but keep in mind that the current regime of the US finds no legal or ethical problem with disappearing folks or outsourcing their torture, wherever in the world they are.

    Finally, if you depend on WikiPedia for legal advice, well...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reply to: What am i missing?

    DRM illegally prevent consumers from enjoying the content they pay for. Fair use should be put above any company interest (especially the 29 billion/year movie business). when i buy i movie i have the right to enjoy it on any devices i own... like Linux OS, PSP, Ipod video, any brand of set-top DVD player. DRM prevent me from doing that. Recent Sony DVD are so corrupted with DRM that they whould not event play on Sony DVD player!!!!

    1. The only peoples who will losse in a DRM-Less world is those who work at parasite company like macrovision

    2. The big studio already neglect original movies to favor "lowest common denominator" blockbuster... look at this summer movies line-up!

    3. If the price of dvd is lower in the 1st place, Piracy whould not be a issue.

    4. DRM as never work and never will. With all the addionnal money the digital mafia (MPAA/RIAA) whould have with higher DVD sale and no DRM overhead, they could easly take risk with original content.

    I DRM-Free world is a lot brighter then a world control by openly criminal companies (MPAA/RIAA/Sony/Macrovision) that steal money from consumers any way they can?

  27. duncan parkertron

    re: Copyright, patents and the DMCA

    I think there must be a point where you can copyright something numeric. After all, couldn't you claim that the contents of a DVD or a file is just a very long number?

    It would be interesting if you could copyright any number, what x86 number would we be using now?

  28. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    Uses for the key (answer to What am I missing?)

    Maybe you forget about region-locking? It may run OK in *some* DVD players, but others will not display the content. I routinely suffer as my laptop is from the US but I live in Mexico.

    Laptop's Region 1, but some movies I buy over here are Region 4. So I am effectively deprived of watching most *legally purchased* DVD's because of the frickin' DRM.

    Back in 2002, the PS2 sold over here was Region 1.

    So basically, DVD cracking was the *only* way to watch locally-purchased DVDs. And DeCSS is the only way for me to watch my DVDs under Linux, anyway. So don't assume that the key is needed only for "illegal" acts.

    As for Digg, it is interesting how they decided to defend their users .... but not untill they got reamed by their own userbase. Ow.

  29. Chris Pasiuk

    RE: What am i missing?

    Ok, here's the quicky remedial course as to why DRM blows large chunks. I am a user who actually pays for copyrighted material but unlike most of the lemmings in the world, I'm a bit more tech savey. DRM prevents me from using the material I purchased for my own use in any way I wish. It limits my ability to enjoy the said purchase to only what the corporations see fit for me to use. For example, I have a media server in my house and wish to load up the latest and greatest polka CD on it so I can stream it to any PC or device in my house. Oops, I can't! On-CD DRM protection prevents me from making a useful MP3 of the file for proper electronic storage. Ok, upscale this to HD-DVDs. I spent all of my hard earned cash for this multi-terrabyte media server and can't afford the HUGE price tag for multiple HD-DVD set top boxes for all those 42" plasma sets in my house (bought before the server expenditure, mind) So I want to load up that new HD-DVD of Harry Potter to my media server and stream it to any TV or PC in the house. Oh, but I can't again because that silly DRM device--encryption key--prevents me from enjoying the movie in it's full HD goodness. Oh look, I can get that key online, SWEET! Now I just need to feed that key into the media player appy I pick up on this Russian site... There, I can now--still legally, of course--enjoy the movie that I paid for.

    I know that this arcane knowledge of encryption keys can be used for evil as well as the good I mentioned above, but no matter how hard or how sophisticated a system may be to prevent copyright fraud, there will always be someone or some group that will defeat it. Company's just need to deal with it and continue doing what they have been doing to combat it--focus on the distribution channels and not the tools used in frauding them. They'll have more success in long run and potentially save themselves more money in saved R&D cost and legal fees.

    That's just my opinion, but who'd listen to a Potthead Polka fan anyway? :)

  30. Ants

    Reply to "What am I missing?"

    "What worries me is the ongoing impact of all of this digital piracy. Sure, it may appear like a victimless crime, depriving a few big multimedia companies of some income, but what is the real impact of this in the long term..."

    Actually, long-term, I doubt there will be much of an impact. "Home Taping is Killing Music" was the slogan back in the 80's from the BPI; they've just had a change of nemesis. Yes, the piracy is much more widespread than in the 80's, but the market for these luxury goods has also increased. In the short-term I see a lot of upheaval, most probably including at least some of your points, but in the long-term I don't see much changing.

  31. Brian Milner

    People power

    Putting aside for a moment the legalities of DRM and DMCA, there's great joy to be had here witnessing who has the power when it comes to Web 2.0 .

    Digg represented themselves as a site for the users and against the corporations. They obeyed the DMCA takedown notice(s) from the MPAA, and chose at first not to explain what was happening to their users. Faced with vanishing articles and user accounts, the user base revolted.

    The 16-hex-pairs number became a symbol of the userbase uniting against the corporations, and against the Digg admins. Astonishing creativity went into transforming the number into many different forms, even including a rather catchy song.

    Flickr recently decided to lock out any users who wouldn't change to using a Yahoo ID, even paid subscribers. Fark just revamped their web page template without any warning, and one admin scorned the horrified users posting "You'll get used to it." In this case I thing Digg got all they deserved.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Article == number??

    ...

    (d) sells or lets for hire, or offers or exposes for sale or hire,

    AN ARTICLE specifically designed or adapted for making copies of that work, knowing or having reason to believe that it is to be used to make infringing copies.

    ...

    Since when a number can be regarded as an article? That's a rather silly notion, isn't it? For example,

    123,456,789,987,654,321

    Is this 18-digit number an article or not? Can I claim an ownership to prevent others from seeing/reading/hearing/using it without my written permission. Call me crazy, but when I see the word 'article' associated with publishing, words in a correct grammatical order that convey a meaningful information come to mind. The above number doesn't even have an "article" (any of a small set of words or affixes (as a, an, and the)) to qualify as a composition.

  33. Stephen Hurd

    Reply to "Corrections" by Martin Owens

    "the only way we can legitimately play our paid for dvds is to break the DCMA/EUCD"

    That's a silly assertion and you know it (you COULD buy a DVD player... I'm fairly certain you actually have one). Obviously what you meant was "The only way we can legitimately play our paid for DVDs on our PCs running a Linux-based OS exclusively is to break the DCMA/EUCD"

    By a happy chance, that's wrong too! If you purchase a copy of Mandriva 2007 (possibly only PP+, unsure), you get a licence for LinDVD which you can go ahead and install on whatever distro you happen to like.

    Your welcome for the information.

  34. Ian

    I think it's clear whose side El Reg is on.

    There's two problems with The Register's coverage of this article, the first being that they are inferring the only reason you'd need the AACS key is for piracy by labelling people pushing for freedom of it's existence as the piracy crowd.

    The second issue is The Registers suggestion that posting this would breach UK copyright law, citing the relevant portion of our laws - the problem is that The Register is making the implication that the string in question necessarily even has anything to do with AACS at all. I could post the string and tell everyone it's my password, if The Register then censored it they themselves would be the ones responsible for then making the link with AACS and would themselves be responsible, if however The Register just left it there as something like:

    "My password is: <insert key here>"

    Then there is nothing to say that this is an infringing string at all, the key point of this whole debate is that you can't copyright a string, because that string could be used by millions of people for millions of things. To bring up an analogy, let's think about knives, the big cake knife sort, if it's used for cutting cakes then it's perfectly legal, if you then take it outside and walk round the high street with it, the police would be allowed to confiscate it.

    It's all a question of purpose and intent, the point of the Digg users is that it should be possible to take down a site for posting it, particularly if that site obfuscates the purpose of that key, as there is no evidence then that it's anything to do with AACS - only speculation. If we're to allow censorship of something that might be used for something else although we can't tell for sure because it's obfuscated then perhaps I should send a DMCA take down notice to The Register, for a home movie I made that's protected by a special DRM I made myself that uses an encryption key of "Digg buried by users in piracy face-down", as The Register knows that this is the key for my DRM now, because it's posted here in the comments and as they have my DRM key as a title of one of their articles then is it not exactly the same thing? Should The Register therefore not now rename the article or cease operating because they're knowingly posting something that can be used to infringe on my IP?

  35. sol

    It's not copyright, silly, it's anti-circumvention!

    1. An Introduction to Anti-Circumvention

    What the AACS LA is trying to do is not based, strictly speaking, on "copyright" law. It is an allied idea called anti-circumvention, and is (in an ideal world) meant to prevent people from breaking the technological locks that are put in place to protect copyrighted material from being copied. I write "in an ideal world" because technological locks can't tell the difference between copyrighted (or copyrightable) works and public-domain works (nor anything in between). They merely lock the content. So even Alice in Wonderland can be locked (and was, by Adobe), and you can be prosecuted for trying to come up with software that can break Adobe eBook Reader's anti-circumvention device. While getting at that Alice in Wonderland won't be illegal, writing software that can do so generally would be illegal.

    2. The DMCA

    Whence comes this legal concept of "anti-circumvention"? It is enshrined in the DMCA in § 1201 as "Circumvention of copyright protection systems". Search for that section and read it. That section was the basis for the prosecution against 2600 (for those who care to remember DeCSS). Note specially § 1201(2) and § 1201(3).

    3. Conclusion

    So, a sequence of numbers is _not_ being copyrighted! It is sought from being published because doing so would make the publisher a "person ... offer[ing] to the public, any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that—is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." And that is what is illegal. Hope that clears up at least a little bit of this discussion.

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