In what can only be described as a revolt, users of the top user-driven news portal on the ‘net, Digg.com, brought the site to it’s knees in a protest over the removal of information from the website. The information described how to circumvent HD-DVD keys. Bypassing HD-DVD keys would allow users to make backup copies of their discs, but also would allow unauthorized duplication for piracy reasons.
The Advance Access Content System (AACS), which provides the technology to make HD-DVD’s copy-proof, issued a cease and desist order after a Digg user posted links to a site describing how to bypass the copy protection. A message was posted on Digg by CEO Jay Adelson advising that they will be removing all links relating to the key after being served with a DMCA takedown notice.
Many Digg users were outraged at what they viewed as censorship and responded by repeatedly re-posting the link in new articles which numbered in the thousands. The front page of the site was bombarded with titles such as “Digg Punched me in the Face for Posting This.” The entire front page eventually became filled with anti-Digg references and hundreds of links to the HD-DVD code. Within a few hours Digg was overloaded with posts on the subject and users began receiving 404 messages when trying to visit the website.
Digg CEO Jay Adelson begged for restraint at one point, but after the uprising had continued for about eight hours Digg staff member Kevin Rose released a statement on the Digg company blog saying that they were throwing in the towel and would no longer delete references to the controversial key information:
“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.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying. Digg on.”
The AACS has not yet responded, but their DMCA takedown notice has ironically created an even greater awareness of the hack because of the backlash on Digg. The controversy has managed to make the front page of major news journals such as BBC News and Forbes and raises the question of just how far user-generated content can be censored.