Last week news broke that popular social media news site Digg.com had removed articles in its index after being pressured by big media through legal manners. In an article posted on Digg (at which point it was Dugg) was the deception key for the newly-released HD-DVD format.
The decryption key – a 16-bit character string – became an illegal number to publish (based on the DMCA), and any article published containing the number was treated as illegal and in violation of fair use and the DMCA.
In true community spirit, web users were outraged by the event, and began finding new and interesting ways to publish the key, and then Digg them. Realizing the community outrage, Digg.com’s founder Kevin Rose issued a press release on the on Digg blog, claiming that:
after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
He signed off his post with this line: "If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."
This sign of social media, and the way educated and empowered web citizens use the web, is something companies, and marketers, should embrace, rather than lock-down. This whole fiasco likely publicized the circumvention technique, rather than suppressing it – it was a total PR nightmare. In addition to this, the number spread laterally across social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, as users expressed their unrest after feeling abused.
What are your impressions on this whole fiasco?