News that the HD-DVD encryption algorithm has been cracked and published all over tarnation is a two-pronged story.
First, that the AACS’ vigilance in preventing HD-DVDs from being copied and openly traded is on its way towards spectacular defeat even while the technology is still in its infancy, battling with Blu-Ray for supremacy.
Second, that this has occurred in the era of Web 2.0 and user-generated content. Digg.com’s battle to prevent users from posting stories containing the algorithm was also a spectacular failure.
Digg’s attempt to weed out posts containing the algorithm turned into an endless game of Whack-A-Mole, despite the fact that Digg faced legal action from the AACS if they didn’t get the stories removed – action that could get Digg shut down. But Digg users (or at least a subset of them) apparently cared more about getting the algorithm widely published than they did about Digg getting nailed. Eventually, Digg creators threw up their hands.
“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,” [Digg’s Kevin] Rose wrote … If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
Looks like Google and WordPress.com may also be busting similar takedown moves.
When you bake user-generated content features into your site, you stand the risk of users posting content that could be threatening to your very existence. So which way do you go? Allow the public to speak through the megaphone you built just for them? Or protect yourself? I think this could set a very bad precedent for traditional publications just now warming to the power of UGC.