Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Number of the Beast

1:46 am Wednesday Morning

I actually have a wonderful job because I often work late at night. Such is the case tonight (actually early Wednesday morning, May 2, 2007) so I could watch and marvel in real time at the meltdown of the Internet community, especially the technical community, over the censorship by DIGG of a single post.

It was a joy, and a horror, to behold.

Oh, and, as usual when the big media companies (yes, the RIAA and it's cousin, the MPAA) get involved, it was just a stupid as hell.

DIGG, in case you don't know, is one of the many community sites driven by users. Unlike MySpace, DIGG is primarily a user driven filter for all tens of millions of articles, news stories, ads and trash posted on the Internet every day. Users like you and me can rate a story - DIGG! it - and stories with the most DIGGS rise to the top of the site. A casual reader at DIGG can easily locate the most important stories and skip the junk. It's a useful tool.

I'm pleased that many Wizard, fkap stories have been DUGG by my readers and had nice rides through the DIGG wonderland gathering a wider audience for this blog. But I digress.

Here is the cause of tonight's meltdown: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Yep! That's it. It is, according to the MPAA, the number of the beast.

It seems that three months ago, or so, hackers (read that scientists) cracked the code that allows you to make perfect copies of DVD's and Blue Ray disks. And you can, with the code, get parts of movies or other copyright "protected" works and manipulate them into new works. Just like a rap star samples old music to create new works.

WIRED magazine dutifully published the information.
Here's the link. It's old news (February 13, 2007). Anybody who actually gave a damn had the code for months. Who the hell really cared?

Ahhh... the MPAA (that's Motion Picture Association of America), that's who. They discovered that a few folks (damn few, actually) had reprinted the article (which was, of course, still available on line), and they not-so-secret code, in their blogs or journals or MySpace pages or .... whatever. This was, after all, the worst kept secret on earth.

But the MPAA, as part of their "full employment for lawyers" charity work, sent out hundreds (thousands? millions?) of Cease and Desist letters to anyone who might actually reprint the number. It's a trade non-secret, remember?

DIGG got a letter and, being a small upstart company trying to find a way to profitability, decided they could never fight the gigantic and evil MPAA and reluctantly decided to delete the very few links from websites posting the number.

By the way, I want to emphasize that the MPAA has the law on their side thanks to some of the worst legislation ever passed in the entire history of mankind. Remember I just wrote just a few hours ago that the RIAA and MPAA have
the finest Congress money can buy. Here is a link to thirteen articles I wrote over 5 years ago about the legislation and similar efforts by the MPAA to prevent fair use and free speech at that time.

Well, a few of these tech types noticed the deletion, told their friends, who told their friends and the revolution began.

Suddenly DIGG was faced with a war on two fronts. First they were slammed by users who felt betrayed. It is, after all, supposed to be a user driven community. The post and emails and complaints flew hot and heavy.

Then, since 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 is the worst kept secret on earth, everyone posted the numbers on their web site. I even heard that Don Imus wanted to go back on MSNBC just to say the numbers out loud.

And everyone who posted the numbers (they are hexadecimal (base 16), by the way, that's why they have letters in them), immediately posted their article (blog, journal, MySpace page, whatever) to DIGG.

Digg was drowning in new posts and tens of thousands of votes. They couldn't delete them as fast at the thousands of posters added them.

As of 30 minutes ago, the DIGG website was down. And, more importantly, Kevin Rose, the founder of DIGG, surrendered. Or rather, in my opinion, rose to the occasion!

Here's Kevin's letter on
his own blog on DIGG:

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.).
So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, 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,


Kevin, as we fight the impending death of Internet Radio at the hands of the same idiots who have managed to place their secret DVD code into the hands of every living person on earth with Internet access, I feel your pain and appreciate your desire to fight to protect the integrity of your community.

I wish I could get the hundreds of thousands who mobilized in a matter of a few hours to fight the MPAA to join in our fight to save Internet Radio. Or, even better, to rise up as one to demand an end to the genocide in Darfur.

I have the rallying cry! It's 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0




1 comment:

Vigilante said...

I followed this rant all the way until it spun off its tracks, comparing "Internet Radio" which hardly anyone knows anything about (probably because it's a bloodless issue) and Darfur (which no one can do anything about). Tasteless and without focus, like I said before. Even though you're a likeable guy, I have to say what I have to say.