Digg vs HD-DVD: a social network revolts — updated


After trying and failing to remove all the Digg posts containing the AACS key, Kevin Rose says Digg has decided to let the community (or crowd, or mob — depending on your point of view) have its way.

“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.”

Unwise? Perhaps. But still admirable, I think. Jeff Nolan disagrees, and doesn’t believe that Kevin should have let the mob bully him into defying the law. Tony Hung thinks Kevin has made his bed and now has to lie in it. And Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes that this is a great example of the Streisand Effect at work. Staci at PaidContent wonders what this means for Digg as a business.

Also, be sure to read Danny Sullivan’s excellent overview of the whole fracas, along with his thoughts about whether the DMCA even applies in the case of Digg (or Google, which has also been asked to stop indexing sites with the key). And Ed Felten of Freedom to Tinker says the AACS is being silly — but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop.

Chilling Effects has a copy of an AACS takedown letter that was sent to Google, which Danny Sullivan has done such a great job of dismantling. And for more info on the AACS argument, check out EFF lawyer Fred von Lohmann’s explanation here.

Original post

What do numbers mean? And are they protected the same way that words are? What if they are commercially restricted in some way? Take the numbers 0x09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0. Harmless, right? Except that they are the hexadecimal code that can be used to decrypt HD-DVD discs in Linux. Someone posted them to Digg yesterday and that post was removed, and since then dozens of similar posts have been removed — and some users have been banned. Cory Doctorow’s class blog was removed after a legal threat.

snipshot_e413t23gb5th.jpgThis isn’t exactly a new fight. The crack for the AACS key has been around for awhile now — you can even get the code on a T-shirt. But the folks behind AACS (including Microsoft, Intel, Sony and IBM) continue to threaten websites that post the numbers. There have clearly been such threats made to Digg, as co-founder Jay Adelson suggested in a blog post that tried to explain why Digg posts keep disappearing and users are being banned. But the Digg community just keeps on posting them again and again, like a tidal wave — one page had more than 15,000 Diggs before it disappeared — making Jay and the rest of the gang at Digg look like King Canute trying to stop the ocean. Jay says the site has no choice:

“Our goal is always to maintain a purely democratic system for the submission and sharing of information… 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.”

Fair enough, right? But there’s a wrinkle: Jay and Kevin Rose are partners in Revision 3, the video blog startup — and it is sponsored in part by HD-DVD. Now there are dark rumours about why the Digg team is so quick to remove posts and links, and to ban users (thanks to The Last Podcast for that link). Just another weed in the garden of social media? Perhaps. A test of what the term “Digg community” means, definitely.

Dell and Ubuntu: it’s all about the drivers

So Dell has given some more details on its plan to fulfill one of the top 10 wishes of the people who submitted ideas to its Digg-style IdeaStorm site: It’s going to start shipping Dells that have the Ubuntu flavour of Linux preloaded on them. Regardless of what you think of the move, I think it’s pretty amazing that Dell has given its fans a forum like IdeaStorm, and — more importantly — has actually listened to them.

ubuntu.pngNaturally, the Ubuntu announcement has caused plenty of cheers in the Linux camp, since the release from Mark Shuttleworth’s Canonical is seen by many as the new standard-bearer for the Windows replacement vanguard (Michael Robertson’s Linspire, formerly known as Lindows, also had some early potential, as did Xandros and Novell’s Suse). And I have to say that having Ubuntu pre-loaded on a Dell machine would help with one thing: namely, finding drivers that work for all the various hardware inside a brand new machine, especially if it’s something fancy like a Media Center.

I don’t know if Michael Dell — who is a Ubuntu user, as Engadget notes — has had any of the same problems that I have, but I’ve been trying for days to get Ubuntu’s latest release running on an HP Media Center, and have had no luck. It installs fine, and loads and I get the nice Evolution desktop that comes with Feisty Fawn (as the new release is called, following the Linux “goofy name” rule). But the network card doesn’t work.

Let me note that I am not some Linux noob. I’ve installed and run Suse 8, 9 and 10 as well as Debian and Xandros and three or four other flavours of Linux. I have personally edited the x86config file and added mode lines by hand to get an LCD monitor working, and have SSH’ed into my Debian box remotely using putty and repaired my MySQL tables. So there.

Ubuntu can’t recognize the Intel network chip, no matter what I do. I’ve edited the modules file, installed various add-ons. Nothing. Intel has a Linux driver — but you have to compile it yourself and add it to the Linux kernel, and that’s a little too close to brain surgery for yours truly. Give me a box with it all pre-installed, and I would be a pretty happy camper. If there’s one thing Windows does pretty well, it’s the drivers.

An invite is Joost what you need

joost1.jpgAs Om Malik notes here, Joost — the peer-to-peer online TV network from Skype and Kazaa co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis — is almost ready to launch for widespread use (reports say it will be opened up to anyone at the end of May). In the meantime, they have opened the system up so that beta testers (like yours truly) can offer some more invites to a deserving few. So if you’re interested in one, let me know in the comments section and I will hand out as many as I can manage. I first wrote about Joost here, back when it was called the Venice Project.

Rupert goes for the brass ring

Say what you will about Rupert Murdoch, the Australian brawler who runs the entertainment and media conglomerate known as News Corp.: he doesn’t shy away from big bets. He’s just written what amounts to a cheque for $5-billion U.S. and dropped it on the desk of the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, and with it the Wall Street Journal — one of the world’s most prestigious media properties, both online and off.

murdoch.jpgThe offer, which the Dealbook blog at the New York Times says (quoting David Faber of CNBC) has been in the works for a couple of weeks now, pushed the share price of Dow Jones up by more than 60 per cent at one point, to its highest level in more than five years. As one analyst pointed out, that’s going to make it pretty hard for the Bancroft family to resist. It’s well known that the family has been unhappy with the performance of Dow Jones for some time. The company’s first-quarter profit fell by more than 60 per cent, according to a report from Bloomberg. On the other hand.

An acquisition by Murdoch would definitely cause some fireworks in the U.S. media industry — not just because he runs a giant conglomerate, or because he’s Australian, but because he’s most closely associated (in the U.S. at least) with down-market entities such as Fox News and the New York Post, as Cynthia Brumfield points out at IPDemocracy. That’s probably not going to sit too well in some circles, including (possibly) the Bancroft household.

With Sam Zell buying the Chicago Tribune, and Rupert Murdoch paying a huge premium for the Wall Street Journal, does this mean newspaper stocks have hit bottom? And could the New York Times be next?

Further reading:

Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg has some thoughts on the deal that are well worth reading — and notes the irony that the WSJ, the bastion of all things capitalist, is getting a fairly strong dose of its own medicine with this bid. And the Newsosaur says the premium was a signal to potential bidders (such as Bloomberg) that Murdoch is determined to do whatever it takes to get the Journal. Om thinks it could be the beginning of an acquisition wave.