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User revolt changes websites' legal policies, denial of service, general mayhem

Attempts to censor a string of letters and numbers stirred Internet users to overwhelm and other websites to change their legal position on censorship. The offending string? An AACS encryption key used to protect HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs.

It may have all started with news that the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA) sent a legal threat to Google Inc., asking for the removal of all references on its Blogger sites to HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc copy protection circumvention.

Cory Doctorow, instructor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, was one of those affected. He removed a blog post from his class website containing a string of letters and numbers used in defeating the copy protection behind HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Keys used in the AACS protection used by both high-definition optical formats were uncovered earlier this year when a crafty individual who goes by the name “Muslix64” found a way to circumvent HD DVD encryption. He then applied his techniques to Blu-ray Disc, and was met with equal success. Then in mid-February, another hacker named “arnezami” discovered a single encryption key that would unlock the protections of every HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc on the market. Previously, every HD movie needed its own unique key in order to be decrypted; but with arnezami’s discovery, there was one key to rule them all.

The high-def skeleton key circulated the more clever areas of the Internet without much fanfare until two months later, when word of the AACS legal threats to Google hit. Certain stories concerning the HD DVD encryption key were submitted to traffic-tool site, only to quickly be deleted by the site’s operators.

The website’s users began to notice the acts of censorship, but fought hard by submitting even more stories surrounding the AACS key. Eventually, the number of key-related stories on Digg rose to over 80, with each story receiving as many as thousands of votes from its users. Even when the site administrators attempted to censor all the stories, the users pressed on.

Eventually, Jay Adelson of Digg addressed the matter in a blog post saying, “I just wanted to explain what some of you have been noticing around some stories that have been submitted to Digg on the HD DVD encryption key being cracked.”

“We’ve been notified by the owners of this intellectual property that they believe the posting of the encryption key infringes their intellectual property rights. In order to respect these rights and to comply with the law, we have removed postings of the key that have been brought to our attention,” Adelson wrote.

He continues, “Whether you agree or disagree with the policies of the intellectual property holders and consortiums, in order for Digg to survive, it must abide by the law ... Our goal is always to maintain a purely democratic system for the submission and sharing of information - and we want Digg to continue to be a great resource for finding the best content. However, in order for that to happen, we all need to work together to protect Digg from exposure to lawsuits that could very quickly shut us down.”

Wikipedia, another website primarily driven by content provided by users, had locked the section dedicated to discussing a particular string of letters and numbers pertaining to HD DVD. However, Wikipedia reopened the section to users again earlier today.

A Digg user contributed his calculations estimating that over 50,500 diggs, or positive votes for the story, had accumulated by Tuesday evening – and that number continued to grow, showing the Internet community’s strong feelings towards the freedom of information and the disgust over the censorship of simple letters and numbers.

After insurmountable pressure from users of the site, Digg founder Kevin Rose decided to change the tune of his Web site’s previous position. He explained, “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,” Rose continued. “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.”

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Proud Participant
By James Holden on 5/2/2007 9:08:35 AM , Rating: 4
I had a little over 7 accounts banned last night on different IPs. I'm not sure what digg was expecting, especially considering the *exact* same thing happened with DECSS on slashdot. What happened there? Slashdot censoered every DeCSS post, banned IPs and the site was never the same since.

I somewhat suspect Digg will be no different. Even if they apologized for what they did, the fact that their first policy was to just ban everyone somewhat makes me think this will happen again.

RE: Proud Participant
By Polynikes on 5/2/2007 9:18:43 AM , Rating: 3
So you got banned for saying something in the discussion, not posting a key yourself? How nice of them.

RE: Proud Participant
By James Holden on 5/2/2007 9:32:05 AM , Rating: 4
Yep. Digg at its finest.

RE: Proud Participant
By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 10:00:30 AM , Rating: 4
I obviously have no idea what you said, but I don't think Digg is the party to blame here.

To me, the real issue here is how much power we've allowed groups like the AACS to gain in the last few years. Digg is only doing what it has to do in order to survive, which is exactly what we all should expect them to do. They are stuck between having to attract/retain viewers and not getting sued out of existence. Of course they are going to ban people right up until they stop attracting viewers.

The problem here is that AACS literally made the decision to not create a secure encryption scheme. Instead, they intentionally chose to build a system that would meet the bare minimums of the DMCA, and then litigate like crazy when it got broken. This is an abuse of our system, and should be dealt with.

If you don't want people to "pirate" the movies they already paid for, you should make a secure system. Furthermore, the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray people have a responsibility to stop labeling ordinary viewers as criminals and open up their formats to be used as we choose.

Sue the true pirates who distribute over the internet and sell bootlegged copies on the street. Lobby for more prosecution of them if you really want to make a big deal out of it. But let me watch a DVD I bought on my portable video player or streamed over my network. Let me back up my movies so that when my kids scratch them I don't have to pay for it a second time. In short, let me use my property.

RE: Proud Participant
By BladeVenom on 5/2/2007 10:57:10 AM , Rating: 4
Blame the MPAA, lawyers, the DMCA, and congress.

RE: Proud Participant
By ted61 on 5/3/2007 12:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
Alifba For the supreme court!!!

RE: Proud Participant
By lukasbradley on 5/2/2007 9:49:16 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't this fight belong elsewhere? It seems as if you're sacrificing a non-governmental, third-party who can not be expected to defend your First Amendment rights (assuming you are in the US).

I simply couldn't label myself a proud participant for dragging a non-related private company into the fray and expecting them to put (what might amount to) their entire business on the line.

RE: Proud Participant
By James Holden on 5/2/2007 9:58:30 AM , Rating: 2
Well, there's a fact not mentioned in the article: HD DVD is a BIG advertiser on Digg. For a while it looked like Kevin was just censoring to keep his ad campaign up.

RE: Proud Participant
By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 10:05:36 AM , Rating: 5
That's a fair point, although it obviously didn't turn out to be true.

Even if it were a factor in his decision making, I still agree that Digg isn't to blame and shouldn't be expected to put their business on the line to protect a hex string.

The true "evildoer" here is the AACS and all the many groups like them who feel it's OK to turn ordinary people into criminals by forcing them to pay for what they already own so they can use it with a different piece of technology.

RE: Proud Participant
By redbone75 on 5/2/2007 3:32:37 PM , Rating: 3
The true "evildoer" here is the AACS and all the many groups like them who feel it's OK to turn ordinary people into criminals by forcing them to pay for what they already own so they can use it with a different piece of technology.

Totally agree with you there. What gets me even more is that while it is illegal to rip your movies so you can watch them on other devices, the devices themselves are not illegal.

RE: Proud Participant
By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 10:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
They're not illegal because there is no reason for them to be.

If the trade groups really went after them (they tried early on, and it backfired) they'd be exposed for doing the only thing DRM has ever been successful at -- hindering the progress of technology.

RE: Proud Participant
By Pythias on 5/3/2007 3:28:08 AM , Rating: 1
The problem is that many people don't own it. Making back up copies is one thing, ripping and distributing to several hundred thousand of your closest friends is a horse of another color.

Its those people upon whom I place the blame, not the riaa/mpaa/afl/cio/clc/fbi/iou.

RE: Proud Participant
By alifbaa on 5/3/2007 8:46:41 AM , Rating: 5
Just because some, or even most of the copying going on is illegal doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to do it. I'm not a "criminal," and I don't want to be treated like one. Also, I'm quite certain that a good portion of the online distributing going on is due to the fact that it is faster to download a movie to use on all your devices than it is to break, copy, and process a movie you already own. Either way, all the DRM going on right now isn't affecting "pirating" one bit. What it is doing is hindering progress and interfering with consumer's rights.

RE: Proud Participant
By Slaimus on 5/4/2007 6:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
AACS is the encryption system like CSS, not an organization like the MPAA.

RE: Proud Participant
By lukasbradley on 5/2/2007 10:13:33 AM , Rating: 2
That is a good point, and probably deserves some scrutiny.

By Verran on 5/2/2007 9:36:23 AM , Rating: 2
It's cool to see that Digg finally gave in, but it's important to note that they only did so after being completely overrun by user backlash. It begs the question of how sincere an apology is when it comes from someone with a boot on their throat.

Im curious how much AACS could actually do though. How much legal action can really be taken for posting a string of hex?

RE: Defeated
By bbomb on 5/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: Defeated
By rdeegvainl on 5/2/2007 10:09:50 AM , Rating: 5
Lets see how proud anyone is when nobody stands up to things they believe are atrocities. Lets see how pround a people are when people died to fight a revolution. That is how the USA started, and they are some of the proudest people I know. How proud is anyone who doesn't have a backbone. I'm proud that someone out there is doing something about crappy lawsuits and the such. If you don't want people pirating your IP then persecute the pirates. If you don't want people cracking your encryption, then make a good encryption. Users should NOT be punished.

RE: Defeated
By defter on 5/2/2007 10:17:08 AM , Rating: 4
What, doesn't "innocent until proven guilty" apply anymore in the US?

Digg could be shutdown to US users if they are found to be contributing to copyright infringement by refusing to remove intellectual property that has been stolen.

Of course, but so far no court has ruled that the Digg should remove the string. Shouldn't the procedure go like this in a civilized world:

1. Party that doesn't like something that is posted at Digg contacts law enforcement
2. Law enforcement investigates the matter, if the information posted on Digg is really illegal, the law enforcement contacts Digg and asks Digg to the remove the stuff
3. Only at this stage Digg will remove the stuff, they can be sued only if they fail to comply with an order from law enforcement agency not an "order" from some mafia group.

RE: Defeated
By Fritzr on 5/2/2007 11:48:22 AM , Rating: 2
Step 1 under DCMA is to notify the offender and request removal of the offending material. Failure to comply is a law enforcement issue only if there is a request that someone failed to honor.

Digg was made aware of posts that violated DCMA. Under US law as it currently stands when they became aware of it (legally) they could remove it, shut their service down, transfer ownership of their service to a location outside the US or explain to the court why it was not a violation. Most sites so far have chosen to censor rather than litigate. Worse, many (unlike Digg) do this without even verifying that the request is valid.

DCMA has been attacked in the past and has been modified as a result of a few of those attacks. Hopefully this latest round will generate some more changes.

This was a lost battle for enforcement from the start ... a single line of numbers, in the wild. They can get absolute cooperation (dreaming) from all ISPs and this code would still spread by email, snail mail, print & conventions.

Digg followed the law & their Terms of Use Agreement to begin with & gave it up as a lost cause after demonstrating for display in court later that they made an honest effort to uphold the law and were unable to suppress information that is for better or worse in the Public Domain

RE: Defeated
By Chadder007 on 5/2/2007 12:35:24 PM , Rating: 2
But Digg isn't the Offender. The Offender is the person who posted the code.

RE: Defeated
By Fritzr on 5/2/2007 9:18:22 PM , Rating: 2
In the case of a BBS the notice is sent to the Managers/Moderators asking that the material be removed and further postings of the same material be either prevented or removed without further request.

Lawsuits dealing with the posting would cite the poster
Lawsuits dealing with failure to remove would cite the host who failed to remove in timely fashion.

From many of the comments it sounds like Digg overreacted and removed all threads mentioning that the code was available in addition to the threads that actually contained the code.

If they'd been thinking clearly instead of panicing, the Mods should have simply replaced all instances of the code or info guiding readers to code postings with a string like *deleted by DCMA request letter* Along with a sticky in each section letting users know what was going on.

I suspect there were some late hours among the policy folks at Digg HQ as they tried to figure out what the hell they were going to do to simultaneously provide the open forum they really are and comply with the US Law that could shut them down if they did not censor.

You can be sure that the next time they get their tail caught in the crack that there will be a plan for this kind of hazard. Of course next time it will be a completely different disaster :P

RE: Defeated
By Verran on 5/2/2007 10:41:27 AM , Rating: 5
That's a very shallow answer to the question.

The question really is: "Is posting a string of hex really contributing to copyright infringement?" What can they really do?

There's a seemingly unlimited market for DVD copying software, and yet they don't seem to be getting shut down. If CloneDVD and AnyDVD can sell their products on the market for over a year without being shutdown by legal action, then how much can really be done about a LINK to a page with the hex code on Digg. Digg didn't even post it, they just linked to it.

As someone else already said, there's a big difference between a legal notice to remove content and "mafia threats". The more sites like Digg cave to this kind of pressure, the more precidented it will become.

RE: Defeated
By walk2k on 5/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Defeated
By Hawkido on 5/2/2007 5:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely correct, that would be contributing to the act of crime. However, in the Department of Defense it is also a punishable offense to use the same combo on every safe and never change it.

Solution... have someone change their middle name to be the hex code and be done with it. They can then post their middle name all they want.

RE: Defeated
By Hawkido on 5/2/2007 5:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
better yet, have someone tatoo the String on their body and post photos of it... If they want to remove the offending code, you can sue for torture.

The fact of the matter is that the code wasn't copyrighted. I know trade secret... blah blah blah Did someone break into their Lair and steal it mission impossible style? No, they reverse engineered it. If someone did the same to Coke-a-Cola... well Coke's secret formula would be fair game. Either you publish it to protect it with a Trademark or Copyright (must be publicly filed in advance), or you keep it safe and secret (only 2 people know and they don't fly together ala Coke's President and VP). Anything in between, sorry fair game.

RE: Defeated
By walk2k on 5/2/2007 6:08:44 PM , Rating: 3
The code itself isn't copyrighted. Neither is the combination to your safe, but breaking into the safe is still just as illegal.

Is any of this sinking in yet?

All these Digg idiots screaming "ZOMG U CNAT COPPYRITE A NUMBAR!!!11" are beating a straw man. That's utterly not the point.

RE: Defeated
By Elrondolio on 5/3/2007 5:10:20 PM , Rating: 3
You're right: the code isn't copyrighted, just as the combination wouldn't be copyrighted.

Exactly like: Digg isn't 'breaking into' anyone's safe (or media) by allowing posts of the code, just as the safe isn't broken into by anyone simply telling someone the safe's combination.

Is *this* sinking in yet?

Both *code* and *combination* can be shared since they aren't copyrighted... If anyone *uses* either, thats another story.

RE: Defeated
By Suomynona on 5/2/2007 8:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Walk2k said:
"Is posting a string of hex really contributing to copyright infringement?"

Uh gee I don't know.... If you give someone the key to a locked safe, and they unlock the safe and steal everything inside it, is that "really contributing" to the crime?

Well, you just listed why your "opening a safe by stealing the key" analogy doesn't work:

The AACS gives you the key; it's on every HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc.

You also get the encrypted content, hardware, and everything to decrypt the key. Also, the DMCA is only applicable in the US.

The DMCA is the only force that protects this inherently flawed scheme-- NOTE I'm not taling about AACS, but the entire scheme of DRM-- and in doing so abridges free speech as we've seen on Digg and in Wikipedia in relation to this story.

Play an HD-DVD, it gives you the key; however, DRM treats the viewer as the enemy and tries to make it hard to catch, but as we're talking about the key today and it was posted two months, their DRM has FAILED. Since you've already told us a number can't be copyrighted (hint: because it's not a creative work), that number should have no protections that bar free speech.

This is why DRM does not work, and flies in the face of known cryptologists whose things DO work because they don't give viewers the key (read Bruce Schneier: “All digital copy protection schemes can be broken, and once they are, the breaks will be distributed…law or no law.”). The DMCA is so obscene that Wikipedia itself couldn't even open the article b/c the key itself was notable and should have been posted, yet they could be sued for that information.

Doesn't that speak to how atrocious and unconstitutional the DMCA is? You have to remember that all Americans have a duty to uphold their first amendment rights.

RE: Defeated
By mars777 on 5/3/2007 1:16:01 AM , Rating: 3
Uh gee I don't know.... If you give someone the key to a locked safe, and they unlock the safe and steal everything inside it, is that "really contributing" to the crime?

Wrong analogy:

Is it illegal to learn how to make a bomb or is it illegal to use a bomb (except when legal)?

You can get detailed instructions on the net on how to build bombs, and they aren't illegal.

Well, that sequence of hex codes is just one of the instructions on how to crack AACS. It's neither copyrighted or any kind of IP. It is a HEX string.

Why it can't be copyrighted?
Because when somebody compiles his own program executable, that string can happen to be in it somewhere. So if it was copyrighted the AACS group could sue you out of nothing...

RE: Defeated
By mars777 on 5/3/2007 1:18:32 AM , Rating: 2
And that string is not a device or way to reverse engeneer something.

It is written in PLAIN on the HDDVD or BD disc.

So it does not comply to the DCMA.

This isn't about the number anymore
By BillyPP on 5/2/2007 11:02:48 AM , Rating: 4
While the Digg owners can do what they want on their own site, it is more a matter of credibility than anything else right now. The whole revolt isn't even about the HD-DVD key. What has people feeling burnt is the fact that Digg purports to be about free and open user-driven content in a democratic setting, and what we're seeing here is a cabal of admins who are subverting the entire process of the system to suit their own whims.

Now as I said, it's not even about the 128-bit key anymore. And it's not about the DMCA or its merits(or lack thereof). The problem goes much deeper than that, and the encryption key debacle was more of a catalyst for what the more perceptive Diggers knew was going on all along but never really had any proof of. See, it's not just any posts containing the number they're removing. The Digg admins are removing and banning any discussion on the topic, even legitimate discussions on the ramifications of censorship in the user-driven internet era. Quite a few legitimate and thought-provoking discussions got clobbered when the admins got ban-happy today.

They have unwittingly set themselves up as a prime example of what can go wrong when marketing dollars(it is being reported that the HD-DVD guys throw ad dollars at Diggnation) meet the voice of the people. It is now being said that the Digg admins are stepping in and removing "objectionable" content when it conflicts with the will of their advertisers or displays any anti-Digg sentiment. While I'm sure this is good business sense, it's a very ugly way of being outed as a shill and a fraud to your readers. Digg is supposed to be the underdog who fought the status-quo and beat overwhelming odds against "the system". Now people are finding out that Digg has become the system, and they're a bit disillusioned that their hero Mr. Rose is just like any other business man who is out to make a buck. But like I said, the admins of Digg are obviously free to do with their site as they see fit. But Digg is only as good as the people who contribute to it. Kiss them good-bye and you kiss Digg good-bye.

RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By walk2k on 5/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By BillyPP on 5/2/2007 11:43:40 AM , Rating: 5
A short sequence of numbers is not a crack.
A short sequence of numbers is not illegal.
A short sequence of numbers is not a circumvention device as per the DMCA and hence the DMCA doesn't apply.

Here is my ATM pin: 908312 ... Good luck using it, it's useless without my physical smart chipped bank card.

This isn't about piracy, it's about censorship. A growth industry that is threatening the very foundation of the internet all the way from repressive regimes to the West.

RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By walk2k on 5/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By NoSoftwarePatents on 5/2/2007 2:04:57 PM , Rating: 3
SSN IS a short sequence of numbers. So is this particular AACS encryption key.

Neither number does much without other pieces of information. However, Hollywood does not "own" the number sequence, which is what Hollywood thinks it does under the falsehood of some kind of "trade secret." The first amendment, which was created before Hollywood was, protects certain basic speech regardless of corporate interests.

Once something hits the internet, it's everywhere, even though Hollywood just thinks it can control the thoughts of others. They still don't get it especially considering the DMCA does not exist outside the USA.

Quite pathetic indeed.


RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By walk2k on 5/2/07, Rating: 0
By walk2k on 5/2/2007 2:53:25 PM , Rating: 1
* and every digital music recording, CD/MP3/etc... , every DVD, every video game, etc...

RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By Spotacus on 5/2/2007 9:22:21 PM , Rating: 4

But, just like with the sequence of numbers for the HD-DVD crack, you most likely won't be able to do anything with someone's SSN. You wouldn't know the person's name or any of their other info. So unless you know of someplace to extract information using only a SSN, I don't but I'm also not trying to steal from someone, good luck. Besides, if you knew a way to obtain information from a SSN, you could just make one up, the government already helps you figure out the first three digits.

This hex string is no different. If I don't know how to do it, have the programs necessary to do, or the will to do, it doesn't do anything. And I know nothing about it so it is just a hex string. Sure I could look it up, like I could look methods about the SSN. But that is why your "key/combo and safe" analogy doesn't work. In order to be similar to this case, I would need to know some other information about the safe, all I know so far is the combo and where it is. There must then be some special way to go about putting in the combo (program to get to the encrypted material on the HD disk) and then I have to have something else to unscramble what is inside the safe (program to get the encrypted material to something useful). And if I don't know how to do all of this, the number is useless, it doesn't matter.

And, as someone replied to your "key and safe" analogy, that is why there isn't one key/combo for all of the world's safes. Because if there was only one, then you would people posting that online too. And I bet the safe makers would be the ones getting sued not the people who point out the safe makers stupidity. Because it is stupid to make one key for many products, as they did.

Aside from all of that, do you really think copying stupid immature people really makes you look that much smarter or more mature? Just puts you at their same level.

Also, in reply to another post you made about "it is the law so don't break it." What if the law is wrong? What if someone made a law that says you can't purchase a drill because you could use it to break into a safe (an analogy to your assumption that anyone that sees this hex string will automatically go pirate it). Would you follow that law? I wouldn't because that law it wrong and to show that it must be broken.

Also similar to people helping slaves before the Civil War. They were breaking the law because the law was wrong. And I know you will just say that civil rights are not the same level as this, which they aren't. But it is the same basic principle, which is what this all comes down to. Same principle, just better cause or motivation.

Sorry for the long message, just didn't feel like replying to multiple walk2k posts.

RE: This isn't about the number anymore
By walk2k on 5/3/07, Rating: 0
By Spotacus on 5/3/2007 1:47:40 PM , Rating: 1
But your key and lock analogy is too simple and totally irrelevant to this case. If you give a normal person a key and a lock, most likely they will be able to figure out how to use it. But you give a normal person this hex string and tell them to get the encrypted information off of a HD disc, they won't have an fucking clue about how to do it. So yeah, I'm in your house, but I have no idea what everything is, it just looks like random crap.

And seeing as they give you the key, then they are letting you in. And since it works for every HD disc, that basically means they are copying it and giving it to everyone that buys a disc. So by what you say they are committing a crime against themselves.

Did you even read my entire post: that is why there isn't one key/combo for all of the world's safes. Because if there was only one, then you would have people posting that online too. And I bet the safe makers would be the ones getting sued not the people who point out the safe makers stupidity. Because it is stupid to make one key for many products, as they did. Under normal circumstances, if someone found out that the same keys are used for a certain lock, that lock would be recalled because it is worthless. Instead, in this circumstance, a company tries to cover up their stupidity by threatening lawsuits.

By Elrondolio on 5/3/2007 5:28:29 PM , Rating: 2
No, the sequence of numbers *is not* a key that opens a lock. Its a bunch of numbers. You can yell those numbers in your loudest voice at your HD player and *nothing will happen*. It doesn't *do* anything.

If someone described to me *exactly* what the key to your house looked like and I stood at your door and yelled exactly how it looks at your lock, your lock isn't going to freakin open either.

Its just a bunch of numbers. You need *other* equipment (ie: other software) to *use* that bunch of numbers to accomplish anything. Just as I could possibly fashion a physical key to unlock your physical door using other equipment if I had a detailed description of your key. Doing it and describing it are:

Two Completely Different Things.

By Scrogneugneu on 5/3/2007 9:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
If you make copies of the key and give them out to everyone you meet, then you are committing a crime


It would only be a crime if you specified that this key was yours, and you owned something to prove your property to it. The HEX string is NOT owned by anybody - they can't own a number.

If I look over your shoulder when you type your hotmail password, and then I go around and tell it, can you sue me? No, because you don't have any right to your password, neither do you have any kind of Intelectual Property on it. It's a word. And I can tell that word as much as I want. You won't like it, that I know. But it's still legal.

It's the very same thing with that HEX string. We can say it all we want, nobody is owning it. Nobody can say they CREATED and own that string, as it's just a huge number.

And don't bring up the argument of "everything is just a number in a computer". A complete software is composed of several symbols in a particular order, that when being interpreted by a CPU, create some logic reaction. It's similar to what a book is : a complex combination of smaller strings. A single HEX number is still a number when seen by a CPU.

By Hawkido on 5/2/2007 5:29:53 PM , Rating: 3
BillyPP this is CitiBank... You are in violation of our Intellectual Property. See, you don't own rights to your ATM PIN, you merely lease it from us as per your User Agreement. We will automatically deduct the funds for the fine from your account as you are already guilty in our eyes. We know your have a choice in banking, and we thank you for choosing CitiBank. Come back soon!


By Natfly on 5/2/2007 11:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, it isn't about the number. It is about a bunch of whiny kids crying "OMG WE'RE BEING CENSORED." Digg made a decision to comply with the takedown notice in order to protect their company and the community. None of the users respected Digg's decision, and instead are HELPING to put Digg on the MPAA chopping block.

So today we have all the Digg users patting each other on the back for doing what? None of the users are fighting the MPAA, they are just forcing Digg to go to bat and I seriously doubt the investors will let that continue for long. What is the result of this? Either the MPAA does nothing and no one wins and nothing changes or Digg gets tied up in litigation draining funds or ends up taking down the code anyway.

This is not the way to fight the MPAA/AACS, it accomplishes nothing. You really want to make a difference, write your representative and get other people interested in this. Stop buying the products if you disagree with their practices.

Back to Digg, "thought-provoking discussions"???? You have got to be kidding me, anyone with a dissenting opinion gets modded into the ground. There is no discussion, its just the majority agreeing with each other. Digg used to be a pretty cool site but now all I see are "IMPEACH BUSH/LEGALIZE WEED" front page stories.

Also, one more thing. Did you write this post? Because I have seen your exact post on a few different sites before yours was posted.

By Crazyeyeskillah on 5/2/2007 9:12:28 AM , Rating: 2
This may turn out to be nothing, or may possibly be a turning point in online voting. I find it intriguing that Digg's decided to take full responsibility for indirectly authorizing the posting of encription proceedures on its website. While it seems to be a very powerful movement, i hope this doesn't come back to bite them in the proverbial arse. Kudos to diggs and its users!

By bbomb on 5/2/07, Rating: -1
By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 10:11:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's not "Kudos to breaking the law." It's "Kudos to standing up for yourself."

What's happening here is that the AACS and their affilliates are attempting to force us all to purchase multiple copies of the same IP in order to use it in different ways. If you want to watch a movie on your IPod, you have to download it. If you want to watch a movie on HD-DVD you have to buy it again. If you want to put a BD in you computer and watch it in you back yard on your laptop via a wireless connection, you can't.

According to the AACS/RIAA/MPAA, if you say "screw this" and break the overly simple copy protection to use that HD-DVD/BD/CD/MP3 any way you want, you're a criminal.

By James Holden on 5/2/2007 10:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
Civil disobedience is fine - just be prepared to take the penalty as well.

By Oregonian2 on 5/2/2007 5:39:12 PM , Rating: 3
It's also good when it's somebody else doing it, "not me".

By SurJector on 5/2/2007 1:01:49 PM , Rating: 1
What's happening here is that the AACS and their affilliates are attempting to force us all to purchase multiple copies of the same IP in order to use it in different ways.

Remember that according to MPAA/AACS/Microsoft and a lot other companies, you are not purchasing IP but renting a right to use that IP. That's why you pay so little money for your films/songs/programs or whatever.

By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 1:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, but here's my take on all that.

That is a VERY new concept which was developed as a way to eliminate the legal concept of fair use. The idea being that if you don't own the product they can regulate what use you have for it.

To my knowledge, this new concept has not been tested in any court. I'm no lawyer, but to me it seems the argument could be made that you aren't renting, leasing, or borrowing anything that the company has any intention of ever taking back from you. In other words, this new "rental agreement" that we are now being forced to enter into is completely indistinguishable from the "purchase agreements" we've always been accustomed to. The only difference is that this agreement intends to bar us from the use of our property -- a practice made illegal in the '80's under the "fair use" ruling.

The problem is that for this argument to take place someone with enough money to take on these groups has to get sued by them first. AACS and their friends are smart enough not to do that. Instead, they just go after the little guys like us.

By walk2k on 5/2/2007 4:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
Uh... Copyright is not a new concept.

It's been the same deal since the first published BOOK.

Open a book some time and take a look at the inside cover...

When you buy a book (or movie, or computer program...) you don't buy the rights to it, just ownership of that hard copy, with limited rights to make further copies (only for fair use, etc...)

By Oregonian2 on 5/2/2007 5:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that the hex string wasn't copyrighted. Especially not a registered copyright where they provided it in their (public records) registration.

The hoo-ha-ha about the string would only have to do with terms of the digital thingie law (I forget the FLA).

By frobizzle on 5/2/2007 6:19:22 PM , Rating: 3
Uh... Copyright is not a new concept.

It's been the same deal since the first published BOOK.

Open a book some time and take a look at the inside cover...

Agreed. However, the copyright laws specifically say that you have a right to make an archival copy. DRM tosses this part of the copyright law in toilet.
When you buy a book (or movie, or computer program...) you don't buy the rights to it, just ownership of that hard copy, with limited rights to make further copies (only for fair use, etc...)

Exactly my point! MPAA and the other media Nazis say that you no longer have that limited right any more.

By alifbaa on 5/2/2007 10:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, using your example of books I can expose the problems with your argument.

When I buy a book, I cannot copy it and sell it. I can, however, make photocopies of sections or the entire book for my own personal use so long as I don't allow others to gain access to it while I still have possession of the book. While I am using the book, I can read it in my home, at work, on the subway, at the beach, wherever I want. When I am done with the book, I can sell it, donate it, give it as a gift, burn it, or whatever I want. It is mine. I own it. I don't have the right to do whatever I want with it, but I do have the right to use it as I see fit.

Compare that to electronic media, and I think you'll see the difference pretty clearly.

Here's my point:
This is not merely an attempt to fit old standards with new technology. These companies are attempting to redefine the extent to which copyright law controls IP use. If we're not careful, they'll succeed. If that happens, two things will result. First, we'll wind up paying even more than we do now. Second, the progression of technology will continue to be halted for fear of litigation.

By stugatz on 5/2/2007 10:43:34 AM , Rating: 2
It's just a string of hexadecimal digits... Just like DECSS, when people printed the code on shirts, or discovered interesting prime numbers that would execute the same code, there is no way for AACS to prove that me posting "THE NUMBER" has any intent to use it for any illegal (according to the DMCA) purposes. I could call it art, expression, free speech, whatever, it's A NUMBER, and as far as I've heard, you still cant OWN a number in the United States, but maybe I'm wrong and we're all in for a surprise.

RE: But...
By BladeVenom on 5/2/2007 11:01:56 AM , Rating: 2
If you can own a number, I call dibs on number 1. From now on no one else can use it without paying me first.

RE: But...
By Fritzr on 5/2/2007 11:57:36 AM , Rating: 2
Find a marketing gimmick that uses "1" and you can own it. Just ask the Owners of Sonic Pizza ... Sonic DriveIn came to town and told them they could stop using the word "Sonic" or spend a few hundred thousand dollars to fight a court battle ... The Mom&Pop pizza store is still in business...under a new name. They didn't want to pay to have a court declare that the DrivIn doesn't own the word Sonic.

This battle is not copyright or trademark though. The string in question is a "trade secret" yet another subset of IP with it's own arcane rules & law.

RE: But...
By rrsurfer1 on 5/2/2007 12:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
EVERY application is a string of hexadecimal digits though. More specifically, every application ever written breaks down to one large number, given a large enough number, you have the whole Windows OS. So yes, numbers can be protected, because of the work it took to generate them.

However, that said, I hate AACS and any form of DRM in general. If I purchase media I will use it as I like, on any device I want, without anyone telling me I cannot. Because of that, I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the hacker community in breaking this encryption.

Serials Now?
By kyleb2112 on 5/2/2007 5:24:36 PM , Rating: 2
Can we expect the wholesale posting of program serials now? Those are just numbers too.

RE: Serials Now?
By CapnBoost on 5/2/2007 6:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
I think there's a difference between a program serial and a code that allows you to back up your own media.

I would like to remind *everyone* here that you do have the right to back up your own media. If you have a cd you can have it on your ipod. If i buy an HD dvd i want to be able to back it up. It's that simple. Did anyone get sued when cassette tapes became popular? DAT tapes? CDRWs?

When did copying media become illegal when you're not distributing or profiting from it?

RE: Serials Now?
By walk2k on 5/2/2007 6:59:13 PM , Rating: 1
Portions of the DMCA are poorly written and are abused, no doubt. But it's the law currently and if you break it you will be fined, jailed, etc... at least until we change it.

Just because a law is inconvienent for you doesn't give you the right to break it on a whim.

As futile as AACS probably is, you'd have to be crazy to think they won't try to protect it, given how much effort and money they've sunk into it already.

The irony is that AACS does include a "Managed Copy" system that (soon) will allow legitimate owners to make copies for the purpose of convienence, time/format shifting, and other fair use (the way the original "VCR" rule was supposed to allow for).

Meantime, copyright holders have a right to protect their IP.

RE: Serials Now?
By Suomynona on 5/2/2007 8:35:19 PM , Rating: 2
Just because a law is inconvienent for you doesn't give you the right to break it on a whim.

Of course they do! Every law in the US is subject to uphold the US constitution.

Does the DMCA uphold the first amendement, while giving the public something back as copyright traditionally has?

I don't think so. I personally think it HAS had an unreasonable chilling of free speech in America, and if let to go on it will just get more unreasonable.

(BTW please don't use the words intellectual property-- they mean nothing. Talk about copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Otherwise the issues just do not make sense)

By claytron on 5/2/2007 12:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
Some people just don't get it. This is about more than a hexstring. Let's say I purchase a DVD and I want to watch it on my iPod. The only way I can do that is to "crack" the DVD. But this code does nothing for me if I haven't yet purchased a DVD, or else downloaded an encrypted copy illegally.

Whether the posting of this code is illegal is as yet undetermined. What we *do* know is that lawyers have threatened people with action, which is not the same as actually taking action and winning in a court of law. Simple as that.

But some of you crybaby idiots saying that "this is against the law" obviously have no foundation upon which to make such an assertion. You simply prattle on endlessly about how this is a violation of copyright law, as if you are DMCA lawyers. Well, perhaps you should go to law school and STFU in the meantime. I have a right to access the data on any CD or DVD I purchase, and that right was first granted to me when it was officially made legal to record TV shows on a video recorder. Again, simple as that.

What I do *not* have the right to do is pirate illegal material. There is a world of difference. But as for Digg flouting the law, it's preposterous. They're merely kowtowing to demand, which is a far cry from spearheading a social revolution.

That warning at the beginning of movies, claiming that it is illegal to reproduce and distribute the material, is just that... a warning. If I choose to violate that warning simply to put the data on a hard drive, and nothing more, they'd have a hard time sticking me in the clink. But you people are behaving like enablers. And those who you would enable are merciless thugs and, to borrow an expression from "Citizen Kane," money-mad pirates. Deal with it, and shut the fuck up.

RE: Wow...
By Oregonian2 on 5/3/2007 2:37:59 PM , Rating: 2
But some of you crybaby idiots saying that "this is against the law" obviously have no foundation upon which to make such an assertion. You simply prattle on endlessly about how this is a violation of copyright law, as if you are DMCA lawyers. Well, perhaps you should go to law school and STFU in the meantime.

I have a right to access the data on any CD or DVD I purchase, and that right was first granted to me when it was officially made legal to record TV shows on a video recorder. Again, simple as that.

Just a comment that you bash others playing lawyer, then immediately do exactly that yourself (are you a lawyer?). I just think it funny. I suspect your interpretations of law aren't how it really is (but is how it should be).

RE: Wow...
By jmunjr on 5/4/2007 3:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
Some people who think they get it don't get it either. Digg is a privately owned site. They can dictate who writes there and what they say. Censorship is legal in a private setting. If you come into my store and start talking to people about your support for Hillary Clinton, I can kick you out of my store for that reason. You have no freedom of speech on my property. Heck I can kick you out for almost any reason(in Texas at least).

Anyway many of you have suggested Digg is going to suffer as a result of their actions and many readers will leave. I think the people who kept wasting their time (and ours) by posting the key are the kind of people Digg doesn't want around any way. I have to agree. Get out of my store.

09 F9 11 02
By tubaTripper07 on 5/2/2007 5:56:49 PM , Rating: 3
First FCKGW now 09 F9 11 02... oh wow look at this, they made t-shirts! I want one.

RE: 09 F9 11 02
By Xenoid on 5/3/2007 5:27:34 AM , Rating: 3
I remember the FCKGW cdkey by heart for installing my WinXP. Oh, and I didn't take much notice, but I will download or crack whatever I feel like and really don't care if it's illegal or not (it's not here).

The Key itself
By nerdtalker on 5/2/2007 9:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
And now, let's see how long it takes before DailyTech succumbs to the exact same kind of caving to frivolious DMCA takedown notices...

The HD-DVD Processing Key: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

RE: The Key itself
By Spotacus on 5/2/2007 9:30:53 PM , Rating: 2
Someone already put it in one of their replies and there is the link to the shirt that has it.

Can I copyright PI?
By casket on 5/2/2007 10:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know you could copyright a number. If you can, I call PI.

RE: Can I copyright PI?
By Oregonian2 on 5/3/2007 2:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a copyright issue, it's a DCMA issue (regarding the key). That the DVD contains copyrighted content isn't the issue here. I think the HD-DVD could contain public domain material but the breaking of the code would still yield a DCMA violation and be illegal.

Digg is really in a bad spot
By Avatar28 on 5/2/2007 11:53:16 AM , Rating: 3
Remember all those sites that got sued/shut down for posting the code for DeCSS because it can be used to circumvent copy protection measures, a no no under the DMCA? Even sites that merely LINKED to it were getting nailed. Granted, there are some differences, DeCSS was a program to break the copy protection whereas this is just a key for the encryption and is useless without a separate program to decrypt the data and a number can't be copyrighted in the US (the main reason Intel changed to the Pentium name from 386, 486, etc).

So, yeah, Digg is sort of between a rock and hard place. On the one hand, if they fail to remove the postings they stand to be sued for contributory copyright infringement under the DMCA. This could conceivably bankrupt the site (unless Google decides to step in and buy them too).

On the other hand, they have already upset seemingly a large portion of the user base and certainly I think this issue was handled poorly. As BillyPP pointed out, Digg is a site that is nothing without their users. If they DON'T fight and continue to give in then they lose a large chunk of their user base which, again, would be just as fatal.

The way I see it, they really had no choice. If they allow the posts, they might be sued and bankrupted, though that would likely have to be decided in court. But at least they have a chance of winning if they can get a good lawyer. On the other hand, if they DON'T allow the posts and continue deleting/banning then the site will almost certainly be fatally wounded. Even if the site continued on, recovery would take a long time and, the internet being the fickle place it is, it might never make it back to the heights it was at at the start of all this. It still might not. Especially if someone enterprising comes up with a similar site and manages to steal most of their userbase away.

By Scott Cooper on 5/3/2007 8:32:35 AM , Rating: 3
We visited this blog post yesterday, 2 May, on our daily "coolhunt" program where we look for people who are using Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs) to spot or develop new trends.

Your post provided an ideal entry into a spirited online discussion of this “red-letter” day in the history of the blogosphere, especially the important implications of the Digg events related to the HD DVD code and the meaning of the reversal of it’s compliance decision. This is an important event for the power of the swarm! Plus, you have the coolest headline we’ve seen.

Our recent book Coolhunting (Amacom Books) discusses swarm behavior and swarm creativity at length. You can see the full log for our coolhunt and the discussion precipitated by your post at the Swarm Creativity Blog ( and add your own comments if you like.

Thanks for providing such interesting food for thought.
Scott Cooper (smcooper@MIT.EDU)

Too late
By ShapeGSX on 5/2/2007 10:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
The chicken has already flown the coop. There is no point in shutting the door now. I'm not sure why they are even trying.

HD-DVD keys vs. software CD keys
By rbuszka on 5/3/2007 11:17:49 AM , Rating: 2
I think that any case against Digg will depend heavily on precedents set by the PC software industry, which has widely used an alphanumeric 'key' as a form of copy protection for a long time. If the distribution of a valid CD key is illegal, then this will be illegal.

There is no secure scheme
By biggmatt on 5/3/2007 11:33:40 AM , Rating: 2
There is no way to make a secure system. If the disk is to be sold, it has to play. If it can be played, it can be copied. Encryption works between public parties because the 2 parties have the code and nobody else. If it is distributed in mass, the decryption key must also be distributed in mass.

There is absolutely no reason...
By cornfedone on 5/2/07, Rating: -1
By Suomynona on 5/2/2007 8:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Hehe. Why do you think a number should be copyrighted and a website shutdown for this? It can't be.

Think again, the issue is that the Section 1012 of the DMCA regulates "circumvention" devices that can break a protection mechanism.

It's a bad law (for other things, too) because you get the rights to the key once you buy an HD-DVD. THEY GIVE YOU THE KEY!

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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