Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Responding to the electronic mob

HD-DVD Processing Key Ignites Digg Firestorm

As I write this, Digg has gone more than a little crazy. It started when users dugg a story on the AACS processing key that allows decryption of all HD-DVD movies published before April 23rd. Digg, apparently along with a number of other Web sites, received a request from the AACS copyright holders to take down their references to that story. They complied.

But on today's socially filtered Web, that didn't go over so well. Digg users responded by creating and digging an avalanche of stories including the processing key, including everything from silly images to Onion-style news reports that just happen to mention this valuable little bit of hex. (Right now, I think you have to go six pages deep to find a story that's NOT about the processing key.)

Well, after hours of digg-bombing, Digg has capitulated: As Kevin Rose mentions on the company blog, Digg will allow stories on the processing key to run.

I must be missing something here, because it seems to me that AACS was well within their rights, even if the information had already been made public. It is disheartening to witness how quickly an online community can degenerate into an electronic mob. What do you do if your client is on the receiving end of this sort of swarm?


Scott Baradell said...

It's interesting, particularly in the context of the issues YouTube has had with copyright and how it's addressed them.

But I think this is a different story. In the case of content like the code, once the genie's out of the bottle there's no way to put it back in.

Alice said...

You may well be correct on this case. I was wondering about the wider question on how to respond to this dynamic. I don't want to live in a world governed by electronic mobs.

John Cass said...

Suspend the account of the people who post the stories. Digg could be sued, and the people who Digg bomb are not thinking about what could happen to Digg. It shows a lack of consideration on the people who bombed Digg. If people don't like what AACS is doing they can build their own site and get sued by AACS. People should respect the rules of website they are posting on. I delete posts all the time because people spam me with sales messages, and will even ban people if they persist.

Alice said...

Excellent point. Thank you for your commonsense insight.