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Most Definitely Digging This

I love digital rights management (DRM), honestly I do. Never has a technology forced so much inane drama onto so many. Every time I turn around, it's something new. Whether it's Sony dropping rootkits (rootkits!) onto its audio CDs or Steve Jobs, the most successful purveyor of DRM on the planet, abruptly posing as a champion for unencumbered online music sales, I know that every morning, the wonderful world of DRM will surprise and amuse me.

So I experienced no small amount of glee watching Kevin Rose and his massively popular community site wrestle over the issue of publishing the hexadecimal code used to crack the AACS encryption on HD-DVD movies and content.

Now, like most of you, I expected Digg to salute the establishment with a grand middle-finger salute and allow its members to freely publish the hex string in every post and comment. Instead, in response to a cease-and-desist letter, Digg began deleting posts and nuking threads that displayed the offending digits. And just like that, the game was afoot.

Digg posters began posting and reposting the proscribed hex code. And by 9 p.m. yesterday, Kevin Rose posted a mea culpa, saying that he would respect the will of Digg subscribers who would "rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company."

So Digg won't squelch posts containing the AACS hack. And the surreal comedy that is DRM is sure to enjoy another rousing act. Most telling, though, is Rose's last comment: "If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."

What do you think? Is Rose right to ignore the cease-and-desist letter, even if it means risking a sizable lawsuit? And if Digg gets dropped by legal action, what does it say about the future of technical speech in public venues, forums and the Internet? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/02/2007

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