Digg’s Users Revolt Over Digg’s Decision to Remove Stories About HD DVD Key

Posted on 2nd May, 2007

In case you have not read this, today a massive number of Digg’s user came out in full force protesting over Digg’s decision to remove a story.

The story contains a HD-DVD processing key that could be used to unlock some of the latest HD-DVD titles that’s encrypted by the AACS content protection system.

Anyway, Digg received a cease and desist letter demanded them to remove stories containing the code.

Jay Adelson posted in Digg the Blog.

Hey all,

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.

This has all come up in the past 24 hours, mostly connected to the HD-DVD hack that has been circulating online, having been posted to Digg as well as numerous other popular news and information websites. 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.

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. Digg’s Terms of Use , and the terms of use of most popular sites, are required by law to include policies against the infringement of intellectual property. This helps protect Digg from claims of infringement and being shut down due to the posting of infringing material by others.

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.

Thanks for your understanding,



Then apparently most Digg’s users didn’t share this opinion and continued to revolt by posting multiple stories and digging them incessantly. Digg finally buckled under the pressure and forced to give the power back to the users. Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg writes


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,



Digg is a business and they did what they had to do by complying with the law to ensure Digg.com continues to serve its users.

I understand why they remove certain stories.Some people will accuse them as being undemocratic for doing this without thinking that Digg is the one who’s going to suffer the most if legal action were to be taken. Not those anonymous guys hiding behind an IP address clicking the mouse and thinking they were changing the world.

Sharing unlock keys for any software on the Internet is not about free speech, it’s stealing.

What if I submit your ATM card number on the Internet and argued that I have the right to free speech?

Anyway, at the end of the day the revolt is not about the code – it’s likely that it’s no longer working anyway – but it’s about censorship and the unlimited right to freedom of speech some digg’s users thought they should have.

I am sure quite a few of those who dugg the stories were suffering from the horde mentality syndrome – if everyone is digging it, I must digg it too.


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An engineer by training, Victor has been working full-time online as an Internet marketer, a programmer and an app developer since 2001. He has been blogging at Sabahan.com since 2006 sharing his experience and teaching people how to make money online. Click here to join his private Facebook Group for bloggers.

  • Katana says:

    I’ll have to agree with Gaman on this one. Americans tend to focus too much on this freedom of speech thing and overreact over the slightest thing that restrict them and thus the mass revolt at Digg but then again Digg was wrong too in their course of action (They shouldn’t have gone so far as to ban someone’s account over that piece of code).

    As a web administrator. I would have definitely comply with the C&D. Digg users should have been more understanding instead of staging such a meaningless act over a piece of code which the majority wouldn’t even know how to use. Sure the users are what made up Digg but that doesn’t mean that they are above all.

  • Gaman says:

    Google does not provide editorial content and that what separates it from the others. I also don’t understand why you include the link to Google Notebook which has nothing to do with this issue. I can put my post in there too so what?

    Those sites you mentioned are smaller than digg and digg is the only one that has received the cease and desist letter.

    Believe what you want to believe but I understand why digg do what they did. Boing Boing blogger Cory Doctorow was the recent recipient of just such a notice and guess what? He complied.

    Of course those mouse clicking users who think they are supporting a cause don’t have to face any consequences. Life goes on…

  • Yien Bin says:


    [Filter these links as you see fit.]

    Google is not ONLY a search engine since a long long time ago.

    Distributing this key can never cause a lawsuit, not now, not ever. Same as anyone distributing my ATM pin will never get sued by me. Why? because numbers can be changed easily, and only NUMBERS can’t form a crime. Unless you are cloning my ATM card, distribute it along with the pin. Unless you cracked the DVD, copy into dozens of DVD-R, and sell it to your friends.

    That’s why MPAA focuses so much on the pirated dvd business in China and Malaysia. This is the real deal here who causing them billions of loss. Not any average joe trying to backup his own authentic movie disc.

  • pirated hd-dvd soon then??

  • Gaman says:

    engadget, slashdot and especially boing-boing had removed the original post as requested didn’t they?

    Besides, I don’t think any of them are bigger than digg though. Digg is by far the largest tech related site among those you mentioned which accounts for 1% of the US Internet traffic


    Come on, we are not newbies here. Google is a search engine – not even a tech website. I thought there’s a very obvious distinction that they do not provide editorial content over the matter.

    The only way people could question digg’s motive is to downplay or accused them as being dishonest about the C&D apparently. It’s easy to say if we are not the one who are getting sued.

    The topic was added to wikipedia but it was removed and locked to prevent reinclusion.

    It’s not about copyrighting hex codes. Can you copyright your ATM number or Windows vista license key? You can’t.

    Does that mean I can publish your ATM number or distribute Vista license key on the Internet? Nope.

  • Yien Bin says:

    hi, engadget, slashdot, boingboing, and er..google?

    You see no one can copyright a series of hex codes, so having the code on Digg.com is not a problem, the problem is where is the story linked to.

    All these sites(with or without link) point to the original source. If the DMCA applies in this case, all other sites should be treated the same.

    I still believe there wasn’t any C&D. If there was any, explanation should have came along with the bans. Remember both blog posts were after the actions, they could not handle the heat.

    This whole episode wasn’t about the key if you ask me, it was about the awareness of Internet users. Same goes to the case that alexa suing statsaholic, these web companies grow so big and fat to forget who is actually contributing the data.

  • Yien Bin says:

    Hello there. You’ve missed the part that Digg.com has been sponsored by HDDVD group. The argument there wasn’t about the key, it was about how Digg.com treated its own users in a way uncalled for.

    First they provided a service that tells everyone out there, “You decide where it goes”. Now, they are banning users for submitting stories to the key, AND stories that tell Digg.com is sponsored by HDDVD group.

    Yes, sponsors indeed put food in their plates, but who contributed the table, and the chairs? Man, this is the most ungrateful incident I’ve ever seen.

    If you’ve been around long enough, I’m sure you’ve heard of how slashdot handled their law related issues. They INFORMED, and they EDUCATED the users, instead of massively banning accounts for just one key that the majority of the users do not know how to make use of.

    And talk about the C&D, that’s ridiculous. Why didn’t they publish it? Mind that the first story was up 30th March, and it was removed no longer than one day. 1st of May, is when the second story got dugg 15K+ times. That key should be on 90% of the tech sites out there, some are much bigger than Digg.com. How did the C&D reached Digg.com first before any other site? I don’t think MPAA watch dogs have the capital to have so many lawyers standing by, do you?

    It is all about the sponsorship. That blog post of K.Rose had to be made because he initially chose the WRONG side, he had to turn. Digg.com is Digg.com because of its users. He should’ve forseen this when DIGGING this hole.

    I seriously hope that your love here is for the site itself, not its management, because they seriously chose a wrong side when the first spark came in.

    Sorry this have to be long, but your use of the term “horde mentality syndrom”, just turned me on so much. I dugg some of the stories because I care, not because of everyone else did so. Internet censorship is the last thing on earth we ever wanted.

    P/S: I’m your RSS subscriber, keep your good ones coming.

    • Gaman says:

      I’ve read about the sponsorship thing but regardless whether Digg has been sponsored by HD DVD the cease and desist letter was the one which influenced their course of actions.

      They have thousands of sponsors – losing one won’t bring down the company. Besides HD DVD only sponsored a couple of episodes – so what?

      Which tech site that’s bigger than digg that carries the code?

      BTW, I am not an avid fan of slashdot and just a casual user of digg.

      About the horde mentality syndrome, I am sorry if it offended you but I was relating the incident with how some people could game digg easily by taking advantage of this ‘wisdom of the crowds’ thingy

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