Kevin Rose Loses Control of Digg

In case you missed it, and most people who read tech news probably haven’t, the digg user base has revolted and taken control of digg. No, I don’t mean they stormed their offices and seized control of the servers or anything, but they may as well have. What happened? Someone posted the encryption key of the now hacked HD DVD to digg and it made it to the front page, then, the owners of AACS sent digg a cease and desist, and they caved and pulled the story. Someone noticed and resubmitted the story, which was also taken down, now mirrored here with comments and everything, and the rest is history. digg was down for about ten minutes because of all the activity on the site, people submitting the story over and over, posting comments and one story receiving a digg per second. Then, Kevin posted on the blog and said, okay, you all have spoken, well let the posts stand and fight it out.

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. Source: Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0

Not only has he posted the key himself, in this blog entry, he has pretty much posted it everywhere, as many will do just as I did when they link to the story, they will link to this title and, in effect, post it to their sites as well. If you look at the most popular stories of the past 24 hours, it is dominated by the posts, Popular Stories.

So, what does this man for digg and it’s users? It is hard to tell what will happen, will the users feel better about the site, because it gave in to the mob, will the users retain some of their disdain and eventually move on, will the founders ever be able to regain control, and what will happen if they piss the users off again? Only time will tell, but this is definitely a moment in social networking history, one that changed digg forever. And what about the MPAA and AACS, will they send another letter, go straight to a lawsuit or give in to the mob too? Danny Sullivan posted an article to explain DMCA, and, as he mentioned, digg never posted a link to a formal letter or anything, so we don’t know for sure what they received or how. This story is everywhere, with some of the notable quotes from other sites below.

To say what happened today on Digg was a “user revolt” is an understatement. The Digg team deleted a story that linked to the decryption key for HD DVDs after receiving a take down demand and all hell broke loose. More stories appeared and were deleted, and users posting the stories were suspended.

Until today, it seems, even Digg didn’t fully understand the power of its community to determine what is ?news.? I think the community made their point crystal clear.

Vive La Revolution. Source: Digg Surrenders to Mob

Couple posts from Mashable: This one talks about fund raising for the digg lawsuit that is sure to come, Fundraising for the Digg Lawsuit but didn’t really mention it in the post.

Digg is imploding today. Literally. The site’s million plus users have turned on Digg’s management, covering the entire site with an HD-DVD encryption key that the moderators were fighting to remove. You can’t even submit a story right now, and frequent 404 errors mean that Digg is actually Digging itself, with too many votes and submissions to handle. Source: NO MERCY – DIGG OUT OF CONTROL

From Freedom to Tinker,

My guess is that AACS LA miscalculated, thinking that a few demand letters would succeed in suppressing the key. As the key spread, it seemed natural to continue sending letters ? to do otherwise would be an admission of defeat. Now the key is spread so widely that there’s no point in sending any more letters.

The next question is whether AACS LA will try to sue somebody who defied a demand letter. There?s no real strategic point to such a suit, but even big organizations act out of spite sometimes. Source: AACS Plays Whack-a-Mole with Extracted Key

The Register says,

This episode provides ample illustration of its reliance on, and vulnerability to, a particular community of internet users, who have no truck with DRM and corporate behavior generally. One-time rival Reddit has seen its star dim rapidly since it “sold out” to Cond? Nast, which publishes Wired.

It remains to be seen whether AACS has the stones to follow up on its threat, and take on the Digg mob. Source: Digg buried by users in piracy face-down

From the Wired Gaget Lab,

Kevin Rose gets some stick from users at times, but he has to juggle the legal aspects of running a high profile site with the wishes of a very loyal and outspoken user base. Unlike Google, who caved immediately by passing on the takedown to Blogger users, Kevin is standing true to his hacker background on this one.

This reminds me of the controversy over Phil Zimmerman’s PGP code several years back. The code was considered a “munition’ by the US government and banned from export. It ended up on a t shirt (pictured). Source: Kevin Rose: “If We Lose, then what the Hell, at Least we Died Trying.”

Andy Beal from Marketing Pilgrim says,

Talk about a tough call. If Digg insisted on removing the code, its users would have likely continued their revolt and eventually may have abandoned Digg for another service – leaving Digg in ruins. If Digg acquiesced to its users, and let them keep the code on the site, it not only faced potential legal action, but the illusion that it controlled Digg would be shattered and the little people would realize they owned Digg.

Indeed, what does this say about Digg?s future? Will it be able to raise more funding, find new advertisers, or get acquired, now that it has been exposed as, not a company run by some smart entrepreneurs, but a living, breathing social network that is run by its members. Source: Kevin Rose Hands Over Digg Control

I myself received a letter a month or so ago, and eventually decided to pull the code and link from my site, but left the original story up, HD, Blueray Processing Key Found, as I don’t have the resources of digg or some of these other sites, so it makes me feel good to link to it and help fight the [tag]DRM[/tag] bullshit we have to put up with. Give up [tag]RIAA[/tag] and [tag]MPAA[/tag], you will never win.

Added: Okay, one more from Mashable, because it’s funny.

Found via the Mashable comments, a remix of the widely-derided Business Week cover featuring Digg’s Kevin Rose. The irony here is that Rose is known to be a BitTorrent user and likely opposed to DRM: the community is just a reflection of his beliefs. Surce: How This Kid Lost $60 Million in 18 Hours (Or Not)