Wednesday, May 2, 2007

God Bless The Internet - HD-DVD Is Officially Cracked!

The internet is a wonderful, magical entity teaming with people from all walks of life. Okay, it's mostly a bunch of old creepy guys in chat rooms trading porn. But there are a few shining stars in the tubes - people who dedicate their time to making information free, and tearing down the barriers to freedom erected by those greedy corporate fatcats. And those fine folks have struck again, this time taking down one of the next gen HD formats. That's right - HD-DVD has been cracked!

For most people...this isn't news. No one really cares about the so-called "next gen format war". The average consumer is happy with his regular DVD, with only those bleeding edge early adopters taking the plunge on the new stuff. But this crack isn't about helping the masses now - it's about helping them in the future.

Every day, more and more of our digital rights are taken away at the hands of DRM. And the DRM found in the next gen optical disks is some of the strongest stuff as yet unleashed on the public. Some in the industry even went so far to say that it would never be cracked. But that statement is like issuing an open invitation to all the hackers, crackers, and netizens with too much time on their hands to pool their resources and take down the system - and that's just what happened earlier in the week.

News of the crack spread across the internet fast, and quickly became the top story on sites like Digg. Now, it shouldn't come as any surprise to find that the corporate bigwigs didn't want this information disseminated to the masses, so they quickly sent their hell hound lawyers into action. As a result, the stories disappeared from Digg. But that wasn't the end of this tale. As a mighty army, the internet nerds rose as one, and pushed every article out there on the HD-DVD crack to the top of the Digg charts. And Digg heard the call.

Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, posted a story to the site explaining why the initial articles were removed. But, more importantly, he also stated that the company respected the wishes of its users, and that all other stories referencing the crack would be allowed to remain on Digg. He even posted the crack code himself in his blog.

I really respect Mr. Rose for standing up to the big corporations, and standing behind the wishes of the people that have made his site the success that it is. I hope that this will not be the end of Digg, but if it is, to put it in Mr. Rose's words, "at least we died trying".

Let this be a lesson to everyone on the internet. Don't let your rights be taken away without a fight. You have to stand up for the little things - if you don't, there won't be anyone left to stand up for the big things. If you want to help, start at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization created to help people fight for their digital rights. And again, a thanks to everyone on the net that made both this crack possible, and made it known. There is freedom in information.

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