Friday, 11 May 2007

Internet users more powerful than the law?

An interesting news item on about a company at the forefront of the user-generated content movement that has chosen to risk legal action that may spell termination for the company, in place of disappointing its users. Digg, a website that ranks news stories according to its readers votes, has received cease and desist letters from entertainment companies after a number of its leading stories this week contained details of a secret code which unlocks the anti-piracy systems of DVDs. originally deleted the stories but after a massive user backlash allowed the stories to be posted In a U-turn that could open them to legal action.

Encryption codes like the one revealed on Digg are covered by the U.S.'s 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial piece of legislation (read the U.S. Copyright office summary here).

Fred von Lohman, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in his blog that sites which carry the code or links to it are unlikely to be able to use a traditional defence of 'safe harbor'.

"While no court has ruled on the issue, AACS (the trade group for Advanced Access Content System Licensing) will almost certainly argue that the DMCA safe harbors do not protect online service providers who host or link to the key."

Read the news item here

See more about this story in:

The New York Times

The LA Times

The Guardian


Financial Times

Image by Darwin Bell on Flickr CC-BY-NC

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