Web 2.0 Civil Disobedience on Digg
Gizmo is calling it the Digg Riot, the AACS calls it illegal. Articles on the Internet are publishing hex codes that compromise HDCP, the content protection DRM lorded over by the committee known as AACS. Digg pulled a story that had published the codes and saw its user base go crazy. Digg users responded by posting and digging pages worth of headlines that published the HDCP cracking codes faster than Digg admins could take them down.
The Skinny on HDCP and AACS
HDCP exists to keep people from copying movies in the HD DVD or Blu-ray format. Ostensibly this hex code allows hackers to break HDCP encryption. Now that the genie is out of the bottle the AACS will just have to marry it like Larry Hagman. But that doesn't mean they can't use legal recourse to at least try to minimize the damage. The AACS has been issuing cease and desist orders to sites publishing the code. Even Google received one for publishing links (in search results) to sites publishing the code as we reported just the other day.
Publishing the code on a website based in the United States a violation of the AACS's interpretation of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) passed by congress back in 1998. Web 2.0 sites based in the United States like Digg are indeed subject to this congressional act, so no matter how cool or cutting edge you feel user generated can or should be, Digg's simply has to take the stories down or be sued. Commenters on GIzmodo's Digg Riot story called the Digg Rioters immature kids spamming. But does that make the "Digg Riot" inherently wrong? Conversely does pulling the story mean Digg has sold out?
Neither, everything is as it should be my friends. Digg originally had to take down the article because it believed it had to. Digg's founder Kevin Rose has since changed his mind. Sure it probably got out of hand filling pages with a redundant story is tantamount to spamming Digg for a political agenda. Riots by definition are social statements getting out of hand.
But let's call the Digg Riot what it really is. Publishing codes that stick it to the AACS or any legal body that waves around the flawed DMCA (ie RIAA) is an act of Civil Disobedience. The bigger story here is the political power of Web 2.0. Love the Digg community or hate it, Web 2.0 can be a force for change.