News site caught in intellectual property storm

2 May 2007

Social news aggregator site Digg was yesterday ordered to cease and desist from hosting stories containing a code to hack encrypted HD-DVDs.

After the news site removed links containing this copyrighted code, Digg users responded by reposting the links many times over, claiming freedom of expression was being suppressed.

Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, said on the official Digg blog that after the user response the site would stop removing links to the HD-DVD hack, despite leaving the site open to being shut down due to infringement of intellectual property rights.

The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS), the group behind digital rights management (DRM) for HD-DVDs, sent a letter to several sites and blogs ordering them to immediately remove the links or content pertaining to the encryption key hack.

User reaction to removal of the links was so heavy that at one point the site collapsed under the weight of the reposted stories.

Rose explained its first decision to remove the links: “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.”

Digg employee Jay Adelson, explained to site users that Digg was bound by law to observe intellectual property 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.”

However, Rose said that the social news site will observe their democratic system of user-voted content.

“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.”

By Marie Boran