Wednesday, May 02, 2007

stating the obvious about digg and HD-DVD encryption

Here's the reply from Digg to all of the users who protested the removal of stories containing the HD-DVD encryption key.

Maybe I'm out of touch with the majority on this topic, but I hope the following points are obvious or at least clearly need refuting:
  • The law is on the side of those who requested the removal of the key. Even if this specific situation is merely iffy in legal terms, the best course is to not flirt with it. Not liking a law doesn't give one the right to break it or find creative loopholes. (On the other hand, laws that really are unjust may demand such drastic action in service to a just cause.) Changing the system from within, instead of acting outside it altogether, is one of the characteristics of a responsible citizen.
  • Digg isn't obligated to let anything onto the site. Digg isn't an arm of the government, which means it can suppress speech as much it wants. Moreover, Digg can demand that users agree to its terms. Digg is not a public forum.
  • Censorship is one of those curious entities that change shape when each person considers it. Someone who complains about censorship is likely complaining about the suppression of speech he or she likes, and someone who doesn't complain about censorship is likely not complaining about the suppression of speech he or she dislikes. I don't know that this observation implies anything, but I thought I should mention censorship's relativity.
  • It's ridiculous to argue that since it's futile to keep an easily-copied secret absolutely hidden once it's revealed, then the secret can and should be published and shared wherever and whenever. "Oh, some toxic gas has escaped. Might as well turn on a fan!" In general, I admit to being confused when people assert that (digital) information, whether that information encodes works of art or engineering, should never have an enforced, associated price. If the work encoded by the information had a cost of production, and the producer intends to earn a profit (arguing that people who produce information should never earn a profit is a separate issue), doesn't it make economic sense to reflect that value in the price? Now, when the same producer charges me twice for the same work, merely so I can obtain a different digital encoding of the work...I don't agree with that.

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