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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Covering up a hole is harder than Digging it

The Tech blogs today are abuzz with the story of Digg and its attempts to censor users who posted an encryption key to hack into the HD-DVD copyright protection. The owner of Digg made a decision at first to try to fend off a possible lawsuit by cracking down on the posters, then reversed himself after an overwhelming user backlash.

Here are a few write-ups that summarize what happened:

Digg in chaos over HD DVD crack (Guardian Unlimited)
Digg this: AACS takedown notice backfires (ZDNet)
The HD-DVD Digg revolt (Washington Post)

The Wired News blog also raises some good questions in the aftermath of the events: Qs Remain After Digg Reversal.

The battles between the paradigms of transparency vs. censorship, open-source vs. copyright, and sharing vs. proprietary ownership will help to define the direction of the Internet, and potentially society as a whole. The HD-DVD consortium is trying to cripple the very technology it means to sell, but they have the power of money and its attendant influence in the legal system to back their efforts. The code hackers have something much more powerful behind them -- the understanding of the true potential of the technology and the passion to pursue their convictions no matter what the threat. I'm betting on the latter.
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