A site that I read fairly regularly has had an interesting thing happen. There were multiple posts on DIGG of an HD-DVD decryption number, There were multiple attempts to remove those posts after the movie industry threatened legal action. According to Forbes magazine:
The Web 2.0 movement is based, in theory, on the idea that everyone on the Internet gets to have his or her say. But what happens when visitors to Web 2.0 sites start pushing the legal limits of free speech?In the case of the social news portal Digg.com, a meltdown.
DIGG is a news site that allows users to post news items and then other users vote and the votes move the stories either to the front page or towards the back. It’s content is constantly changing and users can comment. The commenting allows personal discussion about the news items and while I don’t share a lot of the views it can make for some interesting reading.
What is unusual about today, is that the users basically revolted against the articles about the decryption number being taken off and flooded the site with articles faster than the site administrators could remove them. The site administrators finally just gave in and said that if DIGG went down at least it would go down fighting.
Will this set a precident for web 2.0 sites that host user generated content? And does a community have the right to determine policy for a website? Should DIGG have banned users who refused to comply? I won’t get into a debate about right or wrong as far as the encryption, but I do wonder how removing the posts will accomplish anything. It’s like locking the asylum after the inmates have escaped. The damage is done and what was on DIGG is already on email and other newsites.
I also feel that having the freedom to voice your opinions on the internet carries with it some responsibility at the very least to whomever is hosting the website. If you want to say something that puts that person or persons in a position of legal liability then my feeling is you should host your own website and take responsibility yourself.
I do think the entertainment industry is going to have to rethink how it does business. The playing field has changed and maybe in some ways that is good. I believe that an artist has the right to make a living from their creation whatever the medium. I hope that the changes to come will see more of the actual artists reaping the benefits instead of huge corporations making the money and having the power.
I’m just not sure that this is the way to do it.