Misbehaving Diggers

So digg users have staged a revolt. A HD DVD encryption key, a proprietary code protecting the HD DVD producer’s “property” was being posted in digg stories and it seems the digg admins were taking the stories down. The users started re-posting and “digging” en masse, resulting in a wave that the company couldn’t easily stop or ignore.

The CEO, Jay Adelson, explains it. Diggers are calling their right to post the numbers “freedom of speech” and are insulted they are being taken down. And a lot of bloggers are pleased with the behavior and revolt.

First off, this isn’t your application, it’s a service you are using with it’s own terms of use and legal responsibility. If they get sued out of existence you’re not gaining anything. Them respecting a law does not mean they are infringing on your freedom of speech. You want to post the numbers? Post them on your blog. You take the chance, the fact you don’t like the law does not mean they have to let you break it.

If someone posted a link to pirated files from some new album, would you be surprised? You (we) might disagree with the DMCA, with some applications of copyright law, etc. it doesn’t make the law disappear. If they were taking down a story disparaging one of their investors, that’s attacking the user’s freedom of speech. Respecting a (dumb) law isn’t.

In the end, digg gave in with founder Rose taking a “what the hell” approach which I think is wrong. You’re a user who wants to change things? Write to your congressman, take action against those laws but bitching to digg because they aren’t supporting pirated codes being shown illegally on their site? Short sighted and certainly not the best way to have things change.

  1. comment got erased, here it is again (shorter).

    i’ve seen no indication that what the diggers were posting was illegal (is it)? a big problem in much of these debates is that rich, powerful companies “invent” laws, and pretend they are laws, when in fact they are not. in this case, you say: stick it on your blog. what then if your ISP terminates your service for the same reasons that digg is taking down the HD numbers? which is fine if it is proved that you are breaking the law; but if it’s some company saying you (or digg) is breaking the law, but in fact you (and digg) are not … then … it undermines the net if companies like digg cave.

    further, digg needs its users more than its users need digg. so if users revolt, it’s a much bigger problem for digg than it is for its users.

  2. It is illegal. Although he only talks about the threats, Doctorow does seem to think they are real and it’s his thing, he doesn’t usually back off from fake threats.

    I know that the result would be the same on their blogs, I’m saying if they want to throw someone in a punishing lawsuit they should eat their own dog food and take the risk themselves.

    I believe the threat is real so I don’t think they are undermining anything but you’re right, if it’s empty threats, their lawyers should know and they shouldn’t bend to empty threats, it hurts the net as a whole.

    It’s a big problem for the users and digg if digg closes down under millions in lawsuits. If the only way they can keep their users happy is by letting them post anything, they’ll have to move to sweden in Pirate Bay’s offices ;).

  3. If someone posted a link to pirated files from some new album, would you be surprised?

    That’s a little different. In this case, they are posting an encryption key to enable people to retrieve fair-use of their purchased media, which is slowly being eroded through the use of invasive ‘anti-piracy’ techniques. This is nothing like posting a link to pirated files like you mentioned, but rather, more like posting a link to an mp3 decoder that lets you rip your CDs to mp3s (something Sony stopped you from from doing).

    If they were taking down a story disparaging one of their investors, that’s attacking the user’s freedom of speech. Respecting a (dumb) law isn’t.

    Don’t really understand what you meant by this: The American First Amendment is a dumb law?

    It is illegal.

    No. There is no ‘pirated code’ as you claim. It’s a simple encryption key which has been broken. Not you, nor Cory D., nor me, nor the HD DVD consortium know whether this is illegal or not. It is a new (still-grey) legal area yet in its infancy and that’s why people taking a stand for it now is so, so critical at this stage.

    If you don’t know / care about the details behind the HD DVD situation or the slippery slope of corporation and consortium slowly eroding our own fair use rights, then that’s your business.

    I for one applaud Digg’s users and Digg itself for putting its foot down and standing strong as a community against the slippery slope of the erosion of our – and your – digital rights. It demostrates integrity, something which is at a premium in our generation… both online, and off. :\

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