So once upon a time HD-DVD was competing with Blu-ray to be the new HD movie format. But a hacker known as Muslix64 was disappointed to find that his extremely expensive HD-DVD equipment wouldn't work with his expensive TV unless he bought the even more expensive cable the HD-DVD company demanded.
Taking matters into his own hands, he managed to find and pinpoint the encryption key on the discs that enabled him to strip the protection and use the format with any device.
The trouble came when he leaked the encryption key online so that anyone with the same problem could easily fix it. The MPAA went absolutely apeshit over this and started threatening anyone who posted the key with legal action. For a while several sites removed the information, and several others were shut down, but then the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist letter to Digg.
This oughta do it.
Digg is not a guy with a website. Digg is millions of random strangers submitting stories on a website. So, the whole "cease and desist" thing doesn't work so much. Sure, Digg removed the first post, only to see it replaced by several more. Efforts to remove those caused hundreds more to pour in, each containing the HD-DVD encryption key in their headline. Soon, HD-DVD encryption keys totally flooded the front page of the site, until basically no other content was visible.
Posting the key became the popular cause of the day for the Internet. Users got creative, posting the key in songs, in pictures and even in binary code.
Subtlety isn't exactly the Internet's strong suit, is what we're trying to say.
Upon seeing this, Digg founder Kevin Rose posted on the main page, "You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company, (so) from now on we won't delete any posts containing the AACS encryption key."
With Digg no longer removing any posts relating to the key, the floodgates opened and literally thousands of posts flooded the site all showing off the code. You could buy T-shirts and mugs, and one guy even got a tattoo of it.
My T-shirt breaks the law -- what the hell does yours do?
After Digg struck a resounding blow against Internet censorship, other sites began to follow its example, and started hosting the code too. Google search results showed that around 700,000 websites in total had the code, to which the MPAA responded by sending a cease-and-desist letter to Google telling it to stop returning results including the code. Google obviously did no such thing, because you know Google bows to no one. Except the Chinese.
Karl is a part time comedy writer. If you feel the need to contact him do so here.
To read about stories that were more successfully covered up, check out 5 Stories The Mainstream Media Doesn't Want You to Know About in the new Cracked book!
And for more cases of people fighting the Internet, and fairing approximately as well as Brian Adams in an authority showdown, check out 8 Awesome Cases of Internet Vigilantism.