Being the geek that I am, I’ve been following with interest the revolt this week at the web site Digg over the long string of numbers posted by a member in a recent article.
The vast majority of web users probably didn’t know anything was happening until it hit the mainstream news mid week.
Basically, the numbers are a key component in a system to permit bypassing the digital locks on HD DVD disks and lawyers at the MPAA were upset over the matter.
Digg’s administrators took the message down, the code was posted again, Digg suspended that person’s membership, and all hell broke loose.
In a matter of hours, the numbers were not only reposted hundreds of times at Digg but they were also turned into songs, flags with colors representing the numbers, videos, and more, spread all over the web.
However, for me there are two interesting points to be drawn from this explosion that unfolded out of view of the “normal” people who use the web.
First, if you build a web 2.0 community, don’t be surprised if the inmates really do take over the asylum.
We read and hear a lot about giving the user control and letting them produce their own content. The reaction that unfolded on Digg is a good example of what happens when members decide to go one way and the people who think they’re running the place want to go another.
Second is for members of the MPAA and every other media producer out there. There is no way you can protect your digital content short of locking the original away in a safe.
As soon as anything digital – music, video, text, pictures – is copied, even once, someone will find a way around your “protection”.
Some, of course, will copy and redistribute the material. Most, however, only want to be able to enjoy it in ways of their choosing.
Start figuring out how to work with your customers instead of fighting and threatening them.
You have lots of lawyers but the mob is smarter.