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Digg.com in 'hacking' copyright row

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Digg.com, one of the most popular sites on the Web, is bracing for a possible legal battle over refusing to remove stories containing a single 32-digit code that lets people crack HD-DVD copyright protection.

Digg's administrators gave in to user demands to allow the story to be published, rejecting a legal notice from an anti-piracy movie industry group.

"You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company," said company founder Kevin Rose in an online statement.

"We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be," he added.

Initially, Digg.com began deleting pages containing the hacking code based on a cease and desist declaration from an ant-piracy consortium that protects intellectual property rights and high-definition copy protection but stopped after users revolted.

In a statement on the Web site, Digg's CEO Jay Adelson said the decision had been made to protect the company.

"Our goal is always to maintain a purely democratic system for the submission and sharing of information - and we want Digg to continue to be a great resource for finding the best content," Adelson said. "However, in order for that to happen, we all need to work together to protect Digg from exposure to lawsuits that could very quickly shut us down."

This announcement generated an outcry from users who disagreed with the company's stance.

Rose said the decision to stand by the users came after receiving "hundreds of stories and thousands of comments" demanding the story be allowed to stay on the Web.

"We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code," Rose said.

Digg.com is a "Web 2.0" site, depending on its users to act as contributors and editors. The decision to side with them could mean the company will have to fight a legal battle to stay alive.

"If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying," Rose said.

Digg.com was was ranked as one of the top 100 Web sites by the Internet information company Alexa that analyzes user traffic.


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