Yesterday, the social networking site Digg community vehemently refused a cease and desist / take-down order on a user posting an HD-DVD decryption key (granting a very technical user the ability to copy DRM-protected movies) online.
Interestingly, Digg management/owners pulled the user post down. However, the community revolted and "forced" the post back online (by repeatedly re-posting the decryption key). This event should prove historic because a social / community uprising "won". The "protesters" may not have been right (as in law-abiding) but I think digital freedom is right (as in morally).
This looks a lot like the Boston Tea Party to me. No one likes DRM: it's intrusive and it interferes with my right to use the content. If I paid for Spiderman II on DVD, then it should damn well play on every single DVD player I own--including my laptop. Therefore, these protesters dumped the tea overboard by providing the entire Internet with the keys to the castle.
With the recent legal setbacks to the RIAA campaign of fear, I think the tide has swung toward free content (as in liberty...not as in beer). I don't believe in stealing and I don't believe in giving content to those who haven't paid for it (should it cost). However, the RIAA is incorrectly pursuing a social and marketing problem with a technology and legal solution.
Here's an idea: stop shoving discs full of 9-I'd-rather-poke-a-pencil-in-my-eye songs coupled with one good song. If I like a song, I'll download it onto an MP3 player...and yes, I'll pay for it. And stop releasing crummy movies you know will flop only to up prices to cover these failures. Make better bets! (C'mon, Snakes on a Plane? Please.)
My advice for the RIAA: (1) create better content. [Most] People will pay for great content. Lexus Nexus...The WSJ... (2) drop all forms of DRM--it just ticks off consumers and presents a barrier to your content and (3) drop all legal pursuit of DRM "violations". Ok, yes, Suzie Smith is violating the law by downloading Hannah Montana without paying for the MP3 but your Draconian Gestapo storming her bedroom with flash-bangs isn't the kind of country I want to live in.
Update (5/3/2007): Looks like there could be some scary legal repercussions for Digg...