Failure of Internet Censorship

HydraI wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon, but watching this explode has been an interesting example of what happens when an organization thinks they can control what happens on the Internet. The Motion Picture Association of America has been sending DMCA take-down notices to sites that have been reposting a 16 byte code that unlocks the content on HD-DVD discs. Yes, you read right, they’re demanding that websites stop repeating what amounts to 16 consecutive numbers.

One of my favorite sites, Digg, complied with these notices, removing submitted stories containing the key, and as a result has had to deal with the fury of their users. As of this moment, every single story on the front page of Digg contains the key. These stories are being “Dugg” faster than anything I have ever seen before and are remaining prominent. This is not to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands of comments also containing the key.

Google counts the pages containing this code at 9,670 and climbing fast.

Like the prior attempt to censor the DVD decryption algorithm DeCSS, there are many artistic and humorous translations of the naughty code. Some of my favorites: A PNG image made from the color values of the code, T-Shirts in eBay auctions, the inevitable YTMND version, poetry and haiku.

Now I don’t condone theft of artistic works. Creators should be paid for their work. What I find amusing about this episode is that once again, someone somewhere believes you can pass a law and then everyone on the Internet will automatically fall in line. Not only is it foolish, it is doomed to fail spectacularly every time a heavy hand tries to enforce it.

2 thoughts on “Failure of Internet Censorship

  1. On a similar note, take a look at the threat faced by John Young’s Cryptome archive, ostensibly being shut down by Verio/NTT because of pressure from the USCG and/or Lockheed. It is doubtful that this attempt to take Cryptome offline will be successful, but the kind of information which would disappear with Cryptome seems much more important to me than HD-DVD encryption keys.

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