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The Dead Hand Journal


(Read the WIRED article about what the key means to you
..and note that the date is 2/17/07, and the story is still online.)

Note to the MPAA: your tactics aren't working.

First, it's stupid to ignore the fact that your encryption technology is so easy to break. If you worked with the geeks instead of in spite of them, you'd end up with a better product. 

I give you the Parable of the Location Manager:
A movie location manager was managing the scene of a movie, shot on location, on Skid Row in LA. Fearless, she gifted the entire block with tents and sleeping bags, and hired some of the homeless there to serve as Security. The shoot was successful, the cost was much less than a private security detail, and everybody remembered her fondly.

Secondly, you can't stop a swarm. Try to stifle innovation among scientists and technologists who live and breathe open-source collaboration and you end up with

A song

A tshirt

A blog

An apology from Digg:

Digg This: 09-f9-(look it up, I don't know how large our legal defense fund is)-56-c5-63-56-88-c0

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,


Work with the tide, not against it.

Post Rating


# Anonymous
Friday, May 4, 2007 9:24 AM
There's an interesting dichotomy here.

Before the HD-DVD encryption key was released, even the most incoherent information-wants-to-be-free radical would probably concede that efforts aimed at keeping the key out of the public domain more properly constituted the protection of an asset than censorship. One might debate whether legal ownership of this asset is LEGITIMATE in a theoretical sense, but certainly one must allow the distinction between passively restricting general access to a piece of information, and actively suppressing expression of that information once that security layer has been breached.

There's obviously a lot to this question, a lot more than any catchy slogan can encompass. I would be interested, however, to see one of these open-source fanatics argue against the public release of a piece of information HE values... his social security number, for example. A talented contortionist is always fun to watch.

In your summary, C, you celebrate the idea that you and I have finally found a point of agreement: that censorship doesn't work. I'll agree with you if you'll allow me to add a caveat: Censorship only works when the mob is on your side.

For example, TDH has been VERY effectively censored on Digg, with no fanfare or outcry. The difference between the TDH case and that of the HD-DVD key is that, in the case of the encryption key, the mob WANTED that information to be free. In the case of TDH, the Digg mob evidently prefers to avoid exposure to ideas that conflict with their own.
# Anonymous
Friday, May 4, 2007 9:49 AM
Okay, point taken. Let me add another caveat to our finding:

Censorship only works when the mob is on your side, but even then it only works *temporarily*.

Public opinion is fickle and times change. This is why the wise blogger writes with respect for The Other, because speech that may be acceptable one day won't be the next.

Public opinion may once again swing in your favor regarding your father's ideas about global warming.

(I half-expected you to call me a coward over my self-censorship in obfuscating the HD-DVD key.)
# Anonymous
Saturday, May 5, 2007 9:11 AM
This entire discussion as it relates to the encryption key is NOT about censorship. It's about theft of intellectual property, and the subsequent "thumbing of the nose" at authorities, because of the toothpaste-is-out-of-the-tube kind of situation it engendered.

During the pre-electronic days, intellectual property was protected by definition. If you wrote a book, it was de facto protected by virtue of its publication. If someone did an unauthorized printing, the resulting legal case was slam-dunk. Not so now.

When you publish something on DVD or otherwise electronically, you have no way to protect your profits from wholesale exploitation/theft except through some sort of encryption or copy protection. And if there is no profit from creating DVDs and other electronic publications, there will quickly be no such endeavors.

The individual who deliberately hacks an encryption scheme or deliberately discovers how to bypass a copy protection method is no different from the burglar who cracks a safe to steal its contents or a robber who takes your money at gun-point. These guys are not heroes, they are thieves and thugs, a serious public menace that must be eradicated by whatever means are necessary to make it stop.

Censorship is no more part of the equation than it is to stop a thief from using his ill-gotten wealth for his or someone's else's benefit.

I am absolutely certain that Jason would not condone, and I am reasonably certain that Collette would also not condone, a person breaking into a vending machine to steal its contents. This is petty theft – probably a misdemeanor. I am even more certain that neither would condone entering a home, cracking its safe, and stealing its contents, and I suspect that they would also protest revealing the safe's contents – with the caveat that if the safe's contents were illegal or illegally gained, obtaining them and their subsequent publication might be acceptable.

(Actually, this case is more akin to a safe cracker publishing his detailed methods for cracking a kind of safe that is widely used by the public, thereby effectively eliminating any protection provided by this kind of safe in the first place.)

Obviously, in the final analysis, if you want to protect your property, you need to develop a "safe" lock, but in an ideal society, this would be completely unnecessary. People who celebrate the successful hacker are as fully part of the problem as the driver of the get-away car in a bank robbery.

To make myself perfectly clear: This is NOT about censorship. Had you, Collette, posted the key here on The Dead Hand, I would have removed it immediately, without apologies. What the hacker did is completely inimical to a free society – and The Dead Hand will have no part in this kind of activity. The people who celebrate this kind of thuggery (the majority at Digg, for example) are the same people who used to shout me down in the 1960s when I presented a point of view they didn't want to hear, the same kind of people who confiscate the money I earn to feed themselves (through high so-called progressive taxation), the same people who spit on our returning soldiers, the same people who travel to Syria without authorization to misrepresent us and our friends, the same people who chant in front of the White House "Bush lied and people died," without a shred of evidence to back up their ignorant ravings...

So let's be perfectly clear. When a government prevents a citizen from speaking his or her mind, that's censorship, and it is a bad thing, period. When you create a public (key word) forum, and then prevent one or another point of view from being expressed, that's censorship as well. But you have no right to state your opinion on my property, in my book, in my magazine, on my blog – unless I let you, and I can edit it as I wish. Your option, if you don't like what I am doing, is to go somewhere else to express your opinion. Obviously, if I exercise my discretion in an untempered manner, I will soon be my own audience of one, so the situation in the private sector is normally quite self-correcting (which is why, dear Collette, you are here at The Dead Hand, free to express your personal opinions as you wish.)

Once again, the situation at Digg regarding the encryption key is NOT about censorship, it's about theft. On the other hand, preventing The Dead Hand from appearing on Digg in order to stifle our perspective is entirely about censorship.
# Anonymous
Saturday, May 5, 2007 9:25 AM
A short footnote re Collette's comment about my opinion on anthropogenic climate warming:

Science, in the final analysis, is not about opinion, but about discovered or derived fact. What the public thinks or doesn't think about a scientific truth is, ultimately irrelevant. The only outcome from trying to unravel scientific truth from the confusing morass of fact and fiction created by agenda-driven ideologues is just that, scientific truth – and that benefits everyone.

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