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Social Media Sticks It To The Man

Last week news broke that popular social media news site 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,’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?


  1. Rick Couture
    Rick Couture May 7, 2007

    I’m no lawyer, but shouldn’t it be the individual poster, not digg, who is considered the actual publisher? If you were to tape a printed copy of this 16 digit key onto a city lamp post, would the City then be considered the publisher? I think not. this seems to be a double standard to me… go after the person who posted, not the medium used to post it.

  2. Dougal Bichan
    Dougal Bichan May 7, 2007

    Interesting. It strikes me as being shades of the Napster situation from a lifetime ago. I am curious to see how it plays out.

  3. Eli Singer
    Eli Singer May 7, 2007

    I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. I think the true issue here, the one that everyone seems to be ignoring, is the lack of a Digg community management strategy.
    Without this strong point-of-view on what’s allowed and not allowed, they’ve alienated thier advertisers and community in one fowl swoop. Who really runs Digg?

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