by Karynn Ikeda
The inspiration behind this project was the events surrounding the AACS encryption key controversy. In April of 2007, the key coded needed to rip HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs was posted on the social news site, Digg. Digg subsequently received a cease and desist notice to take down the code citing the anti-circumvention provisions of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Site administrators began to remove posts containing the code but encountered significant backlash from users who kept reposting the code as old posts were taken down. Elsewhere on the Internet, the code was posted on blogs and quickly spreading in other non-textual forms. Internet users created images, T-shirts, and even music videos about the code, embedding it within the popular culture of the Web so as to prevent the repression of the information.
Playing off of Andrew Boyd's idea of "embedding a threatening idea inside of a non-threatening form" (372), I created a music video around disseminating and propagating subversive information. In this case the information is a series of key codes to gain access to the operating system that powers Texas Instruments calculators - TI-83 Plus, TI-84 Plus, and TI-89. Like the AACS encryption key, the code was posted to a public site, and the site then received a cease and desist notice to take down the code. It complied and the code was subsequently reposted on WikiLeaks.
Grabbing the TI code from WikiLeaks, I created a music video around the first code in the series using found music and video online. After exporting the video as a FLV file, I opened the file in a text editor and dropped in the full series of key codes. Viewers can extract the first key code by simply watching the video, but they are also told to "download and extract the hack" which will literally lead them to the full list. Since the full extent of the video's subversiveness is hidden to all except the viewer (and the viewer must be tech savvy enough to look at the file in a text editor), the code may circulate freely without attracting TI's lawyers.