David vs Goliath

Last modified on May 2nd, 2007

I wanted to pen this entry really quick before bed. A few days ago, one of the main encryption keys for the HD-DVD platform was leaked, apparently by an insider within the video industry. Basically, having this key will allow anyone with access to the hardware the full ability to decode and decrypt every HD-DVD that has been manufactured so far. Oops.

The key, which amounts to no more than a 128 bit string, has been circling the internet, pulling a string of cease and desist orders along with it. Many a webowner has tried to publish the key online, only to be given a legal letter demanding they take it down. How in the world you can assume ownership of a unique sequence of numbers is beyond me, but apparently that’s what they are attempting to do.

Many users on Digg.com have created top stories with the HD-DVD key in them, only to have them later removed by site moderators, apparently because Digg.com has been served a C&D letter as well.

However, after an outcry from people on the website, the creator of Digg, Kevin Rose, had this to say:

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,


I think it’s awesome that people are finally standing up to the industry. DRM has gone way too far, — the main purpose of it is no longer to protect the artists in the industry, but more to inhibit the fair use of a product by consumers and provide incremental revenue streams to the recording industry. A sequence of numbers should not be patentable or copyrightable. The whole DMCA is a pile of shit, and it should not be illegal to reverse engineer something to provide you with fair use of a product you purchased (in many cases, multiple times)

Another take on the situation is by the site DownloadSquad:

Witness the modern equivalent of the 95 thesis’ Martin Luther nailed to the door of Wittenburg church. We, digital citizens –commonly referred to by the vulgar term of ‘consumers’ — have had enough of content lock-in. We’ve bought and re-bought entertainment media — repackaged and regurgitated digital vomitus — until we’re blue in the face. We’ve been told time and time again that DRM is for our own protection, and we’re finally and inconsolably fed up.

I hope the whole HD-DVD and Blue-Ray industry get flushed down the toilet, and that’s a big statement coming from someone who did his graduate degree in high definition video compression.

** I also want to point out that DeCSS, the original DVD decryption program, was originally created so that users on Linux could actually watch the movies they owned on their computers, since the industry refused to support it. It has been proven time and time again that DRM simply fails in the real world, so to spend tons of time and effort trying to crack down on schemes that break it seems like a complete waste of time.

Another intesting tidbit of information that is often overlooked by HD DRM advocates is that most high definition televisions sold in the last few years will not be able to show a true high-definition image from the HD-DVD players. Why? Because the industry has mandated that only secure connections between the players and TVs will be allowed to show true HD content. So that means unless you recently bought a HD television that supports either the DVI (digital video interconnect) or HDMI (high definition multimedia interface), you’re shit-out-of-luck. So when you went down to Future Shop and were brainwashed into getting a “HD-ready” television last year, you should have kept your wallet in your pocket and simply bent over the cash register instead – it would have been a cheaper solution with the same end result. Sure, these DVD players will still play content on your TV — just not true HD content.

Oh, and if anyone asks, that sequence above is actually part of my online banking password. I just put it down here so I wouldn’t forget.

4 responses to “David vs Goliath”

  1. Jason says:

    OK david, where’s the damn key?

  2. Duane Storey says:

    I couldn’t find it, but I came up with a new online banking password.

  3. Clay says:

    Some kinda wierd mass consciousness thing going on…I came up with those same numbers for my territory sales plan for the quarter, and then another guy ( http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2007/04/numbers_are_awe.html ) picked them as his new favorite number string, just randomly like. Interesting!

  4. S says:

    The funny thing is that it was proven again and again that the more accessible and copiable movies/songs are, the more money the movie/music industry generates. It happened in the 80s when VHS became popular. They were all worried that it would kill the movie industry. Next thing you know they started building those 20 theatres megacomplexes everywhere. Napster got shot down, now iTunes is making loads of money when it is still rather easy to get free songs all over the place.

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