Wednesday, May 2, 2007

When N3rds Roar

Normally I don't post about things like this because I'm an elitist snob who considers himself above most frays. The key word in the preceding sentence is "normally" because the following story struck my funny bone in just the right way. On Tuesday, received a story containing the 16-digit code to crack the HD-DVD encryption scheme. In short, this lets people to play HD-DVD movies on their computers (read: Linux) in the high-definition quality only HD-DVD compliant players allow for. Oh, and people can now copy HD-DVDs all on account of a 16-digit series of numbers.

Like most things posted on the internet, we're seeing the equivalent of releasing a rabbit into the wild. Only replace "rabbit" with "bonfire" because the speed at which it will naturally spread is unbelievable. The editors deleted the story, all comments on the story, and banned the user who posted it.

Naturally, all hell broke loose.

The resulting explosion of nerd fury struck down the site since everyone who had the code started posting it in creative means through either new news stories or through comments to existing stories. It only took a day before the site runner posted this mea culpa where he apologizes for not allowing information to be free, yo. It appears that Hollywood went ballistic at their vaunted control scheme getting cracked and demanded that all instances of the code be removed from the internet forthwith.

Of course, then they file court papers and had to put the exact code in the documents so now it's a matter of public record. I expect the AP, Reuters, and The New York Times to have the code in their pages by this weekend and my laughter will continue.

The righteous indignation over something like this on all sides of the argument slays me. Personally, I agree with the editor in deleting the story but by the same token I can see how or the AP or any other massive news agency would have done the exact same thing. What continues to puzzle me is how Hollywood actively refuses to hire coders or hackers who know what they're doing when it comes to encryption schemes, instead opting for the most Draconian measures available that far too frequently only harm the wrong people.

Of course, at the end of the day it remains funny to me watching a bunch of hyper-active nerds throw a hissy fit over something that maybe one-tenth of them actually understand.

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