AACS Discovers The Streisand Effect: The More You Try To Suppress Something, The More Attention It Gets

from the let's-try-this-again dept

If you follow tech related sites, by now you’ve heard the story that the folks who control AACS, the copy protection used in next generation DVDs, have decided to send DMCA takedown notices to various sites that have posted the 128-bit integer that is needed, along with some software, to decrypt the video content on these new DVDs. This is odd for a few reasons. The key came out many months ago and has been available on the web for quite some time. There are, of course, the basic questions concerning whether or not this key alone really does violate the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA — but that’s a separate issue. What’s more intriguing here is trying to understand the thought process behind the decision to send out these takedown notices. As anyone who’s been online for more than about two days knows, the more you try to suppress something online, the more attention you’re going to call to it. Years back, we jokingly referred to this as the Streisand Effect — after an incident where Barbara Streisand tried to remove some photos from the web, making them a lot more popular. The name has stuck, and it still amazes us that anyone doesn’t recognize what will happen when they try to make such a move. While the group has forced some sites to pull pages here and there, every page they pull is just increasing the anger from a growing group of folks who are making sure the number shows up in many, many more places — including directly in a URL. Digg, which was one of the sites accused of taking down pages about this, has been under a massive effort from folks to make sure that every story on the front page somehow points to the key in question (and it’s interesting to see the anger of users turned against Digg for taking down some of these stories, even though they’re pretty much required to thanks to the DMCA). As happened with DeCSS, it’s only a matter of time until someone writes a song incorporating the key as well. Effectively, all that’s been done here is to draw much, much more attention to the fact that the encryption on next generation DVDs is incredibly weak — so that a lot more people now know about it. Most of us honestly couldn’t have cared any less about the integer or the inner workings (or non-workings) of the encryption system — and yet now we know a lot more. That can’t be the intended consequence of these notices, but that’s what’s happened. Nice work, Hollywood.

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Comments on “AACS Discovers The Streisand Effect: The More You Try To Suppress Something, The More Attention It Gets”

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matt (profile) says:

Re: Looks like they're waving the white flag at Di

this happens to be after the fact, and although I appluad it, it is an empty-handed message since the situation has already passed.

digg bent over for the DMCA instead of seeing if the situation was false. they knew better before they even considered following the clause. if larger companies fought the cease and desist we wouldn’t have to worry so much, not to mention the positive publicity it could bring for digg fighting the cease& desist.

HateSpeech says:

It opens the portal to hell

The hex number that we dare not speak, except in hushed whispers encoded with a protective Xor hash. It is a dark dark number that opens the gates of hell itself from whence Jack Valenti reaches out to pull you in.

0xf606eefd628b1ca427bea93a9ca9773f ^ 0xffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

Luckily it’s OK to distribute the key in encoded form (like it is on the disc itself) and the gates stay closed.

Well that’s what I think it is, I can’t see any other reason why third parties not linked to any contract would be prevented from discussing this.

Since when did we give up our freedom of speech to protect a key to a crappy lock that was quickly broken? Maybe they could make their locks a little less crappy so the key couldn’t be found?

If the lock on the HD DVD is broken, then what is the point of the DRM on the player and the DRM on the TV and the DRM in Vista?

If I was a movie studio, I’d want my money back from the AACS for failing to deliver the copy protection they claim.

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: It opens the portal to hell

The hex number that we dare not speak, except in hushed whispers encoded with a protective Xor hash. It is a dark dark number that opens the gates of hell itself from whence Jack Valenti reaches out to pull you in.

What, you mean this one?
1001 11111001 00010001 00000010 10011101 01110100 11100011 01011011 11011000 01000001 01010110 11000101 01100011 01010110 10001000 11000000
Yeah, it’s my lucky number.

The infamous Joe says:

Devil's Advocate.

Would you be calling it Freedom of Speech if it was all your personal information? “Sure, it’s my bank account and pin number, but hey, I don’t want to infringe on their right to free speech.” Is that realistic?

Don’t doll it up into something grandiose, this is, on digg at least, mob mentality at it’s finest.

And, that is not a good thing. (If you disagree, imagine if their ’cause’ was one you felt strongly against.)

Not a Sheep says:

Re: Devil's Advocate.

Um, O.K… Differences:

1) you do not want to give a buttload of people conditional access to your bank account

2) you do not want to mass sell a product to a buttload of people that is unusable without a highly restrictive control mechanism that can be broken by your bank account number

And for the record, it is YOUR responsibility to protect your personal information. If you goof up and someone else ends up with your numbers, you have to go change them. I do not think possession of a number should be illegal… Now, the commission of fraud in the use of the number is entirely another issue.

If the debate is whether one should be able to be legally punished for publishing a number, I think that my answer would be a solid NO.

Now, should DRM itself be illegal? Also, I say NO. I think it’s a bad marketing move, and is doomed to eventual failure, but should not be made illegal.

What should be bugging everyone about this debacle is the underlying DMCA legislation that makes situations like this happen.

Alas, we live in a nation of pathetic sheep, driven forward by a need for consumer goods, entertainment and little else. I truly believe this country could completely devolve into a socialist nightmare, or fascist state without the majority of people blinking an eye, as long as they can watch the next episode of “American Idol” on their big screen TV.

HateSpeech says:

Devil's Advocate

“Sure, it’s my bank account and pin number, but hey, I don’t want to infringe on their right to free speech.”

WANT?? You mean CAN’T. You *cannot* infringe on their right of free speech because there’s no special mechanism defined that lets you.
Quite the contrary, their right to free speech is written into law.
In the case of bad locks on media, the DMCA is the special exception that overrules free speech.

So yeh, if you bank account and pin get out into the public domain, the only thing you can do is change bank accounts and pin numbers. You have zero recourse to silence everyone discussing it.

So flip that over, why should bad lock makers get a special censorship power not granted in other situations?

Clifford VanMeter (user link) says:

Digg's Dug

You might be right that they had to cave and remove the offensive posts. The didn’t, however, need to be banning the posters, deleting accounts, censoring stories on the affects of posting the numbers that didn’t actually post the numbers, censoring posts critical of Digg and its management, blocking IPs and banning accounts for commenting on the numbers, and manipulating their own system to mod down relevant posts and mod up irrelevant posts.

Digg’s credibility is shot, its userbase left feeling betrayed and abused. They’ve made themselves as irrelevant as Fox News.

Vincent Clement says:

What is copy protection?

Copy protection is nothing but a big joke. Why do the media companies bother with it? It increases their costs, adds absolutely no value customer and flies in the face of fair use.

I just bought the new Rush CD, Snakes & Arrows. No copy protection. No installation of unwanted software. Just a plain old music CD with 13 tracks. Now that is way to treat and respect your fans.

Valenti's Conscience says:

They should mark HDDVD and BluRay as defective

I don’t think this is a good enough situation.

AACS will invalidate the keys as they are cracked. So buyers of HDDVD and BluRay players cannot be sure that the device they are buying today will play future HDDVD’s or future BluRay discs. If a player’s key is cracked then the AACS will add it’s keys as blacklisted on future HD discs.

The manufacturers know this, so they are selling goods with a potential known undisclosed defect.

They should be required to disclose this problem on the box.
Something like “This HDDVD player may not be able to play all HDDVD discs due to copy protection”.

Same with HDTVs “This HDMI television may not be able to play future HDMI content due to copy protection”

and on the discs themselves
“This BluRay disc may not play on all BluRay players”.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: They should mark HDDVD and BluRay as defective

“AACS will invalidate the keys as they are cracked.”

Lets hope so. Eventually all possible keys will be cracked, or enough will be so it’s just pointless to use any more. Maybe then someone (in power) will realise that DRM is a wast of money and man power.

Stupid question: If the creators of the disks finally see the light and stop using any DRM, will that cause the current players to stop working since they’re all looking for the key?

Ned Ulbricht says:


The integers, as numbers, belong to the public. No person has any right to exclusive control over them. Integers are not ownable.

This particular integer had a certain utility based on the fact that it was not generally known that it was being used for a particular purpose. The economic value of that secret may have been protectible by contract, in accord with long-standing trade secret law. But once the secret has been revealed to the public, there is nothing left to protect. Further, trade secret law has never reached those who owe no duty to keep the secret.

To the extent that the DMCA purports to revoke the public’s right to freely use and publish a particular integer—to that extent—the DMCA is repugnant. No person has the right own an integer.

PhysicsGuy says:


and someone on digg had an interesting conspiracy theory. perhaps the posts weren’t from frustrated digg users. perhaps all the posts were from the hd-dvd people who did this to give attention to their format over blu-ray. unwanted streisand effect or brillian marketing strategy? probably the former, but still, makes you wonder.

rEdEyEz says:


unwanted streisand effect or brilliant marketing strategy?

This assumption presupposes that “I CARE”

I find the whole episode mildly amusing, simply because this is exactly the same “effect” that has taken place, year after year, ever since M$ came out with their very first validation/encryption code/key etc.

Just like with idiots, the world is constantly building better geeks.

“Is it idiot-proof?” “Is it geek-proof?” Neither, never.

hehehe says:

heres WHY the key was cracked...

Basically, the HD-DVD (and blu-ray) were DESIGNED to be easily cracked. This is a feeble attempt to drive take-up of the product before a more secure system (ha!) is added to the players via their built-in “upgrading” hardware.

It’s the same reason that PS2 sales were SLOOOOOW until the first mod-chips appeared, and once a few million modders had PS2’s, suddenly it was the “must-have” product. Sony then tried to ramp-up the protection (without success) to take advantage of this sudden influx of new customers.

Same story with Xbox1 / 360 and now after a run of unbelievably slow sales, we hear someone has “accidentally” discovered that you can hack the PS3’s blu-ray firmware with nothing more elaborate than a USB cable shoved into a port!…I wonder who let THAT cat out of the bag?

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