All over the internet people are illegally listing or linking to a newly discovered HD-DVD processing key. This copyrighted string of numbers allows people to crack DVDs and create pirated copies. Beyond cropping up everywhere, pages listing the key are being linked to from sites like Reddit, Digg and Slashdot. Some are even selling it on coffee mugs, t-shirts and bumper stickers.
So, amidst all of this gleeful subversion, where is the problem? Well, beyond the obvious legal issue of copyrights, the pirated DVD industry is linked to various other forms of organized crime, from prostitution and drug sales to terrorism. By putting this continuously into the public realm, people are unwittingly undermining the very freedoms they suppose they are protecting.
“Compared to other forms of crime, DVD piracy offers criminals high returns and relatively low risk in terms of penalties. It is an attractive option for organized crime groups, who use the trade in DVD piracy to launder cash and fund other forms of crime.” -= Piracy Is A Crime (dot com)
For legal and ethical reasons, I will not provide links to (or direct quotes from) sites that are in an uproar about issues of “censorship” and internet freedom. However, it is well worth asking: what would those same people say if the string of numbers being circulated was the key to unlocking some part of our military defense system? What if the code in question provided access to our nuclear arsenal? In essence: what if they knew that they were compromising the security of our country by passing around a string of numbers?
This analogy is much closer to the mark than it sounds. Now, I am not going to shed a tear for the profits lost by major Hollywood corporations, but it is alarming how naively people assume that DVD piracy is a victimless crime. Further,Â the people listing this code are committing a crime,Â whether or not they understand the other potentially harmful consequences of their actions.