[nylug-announce] Norway's 'DVD-Jon' Is Acquitted In Closely Watched Cracking Case
jgleason at nylug.org
Wed Jan 8 18:51:29 EST 2003
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Date: 07 Jan 2003 12:46:24 -0500
From: Ron Guerin <ron at vnetworx.net>
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Subject: [nylug-talk] [Fwd: [free-sklyarov] Norway's 'DVD-Jon' Is Acquitted
In Closely Watched Cracking Case]
From: Richard M. Smith <rms at computerbytesman.com>
To: free-sklyarov at zork.net, 'Richard M. Smith' <rms at computerbytesman.com>
Subject: [free-sklyarov] Norway's 'DVD-Jon' Is Acquitted In Closely Watched Cracking Case
Date: 07 Jan 2003 10:22:08 -0500
. Federal Courts Reject Challenges to Digital Copyright Regulations
. Norwegian Computer Geek Is Villain in Hollywood and a Hero to Hackers
Norway's 'DVD-Jon' Is Acquitted In Closely Watched Cracking Case
OSLO, Norway -- A Norwegian teenager was acquitted in a key test case
Tuesday of violating computer break-in laws with his program that
circumvents security codes on Hollywood's DVD films.
Jon Lech Johansen was 15 years old when he developed and posted his
program, called DeCSS, on the Internet in late 1999, enraging the film
industry because it feared the software would allow illegal copying of
In its unanimous 25-page ruling, the three-member Oslo City Court found
Mr. Johansen, now 19 years old and a household name as "DVD-Jon" in
Norway, innocent on all counts in the latest setback for the film
industry's drive to prevent film copying.
"I'm very satisfied. We won support on all points. I had figured that we
could win, but it can go either way," said Mr. Johansen after the
verdict was read out.
The prosecution said it would decide in the next two weeks whether to
appeal, while Mr. Johansen said he expects another round because this is
the first such case in Norway. "But clearly, winning the first round
means a lot," said Mr. Johansen, who, in a dark sweater, sat placidly in
the small courtroom when the verdict was read for him and about 50
spectators, including his family, the media, and young computer
Prosecutors had called for a 90-day suspended jail sentence,
confiscation of computer equipment and that he pay court costs, all of
which were rejected in the ruling.
Mr. Johansen became a folk hero to hackers, especially in the United
States where a battle is raging over a 1998 copyright law that bans
software like DeCSS.
The film industry developed the Content Scrambling System to encrypt and
prevent illegal copying of DVD films. However the system, usually called
CSS, also prevents DVD films from being played on unauthorized
Mr. Johansen's program, which pieces together security codes and other
programs sent to him by fellow hackers, breaks the CSS barrier, allowing
films to be played and copied on computers.
The short program is one of many easily available programs that can
break DVD security codes.
In January 2000, the U.S. Motion Picture Association and the DVD Copy
Control Association filed a complaint with the Norwegian economic crime
police against Mr. Johansen. Prosecutors later charged Mr. Johansen
under Norway's data break-in laws and for being an accessory to others
making illegal copies of films by posting his program on the Internet.
Mr. Johansen had claimed he posted the program for others to test it.
Head judge Irene Sogn, in reading the verdict, said no one could be
convicted of breaking into their own property, and that there was no
proof that Mr. Johansen or others had used the program to access illegal
pirate copies of films.
"The court finds that someone who buys a DVD film that has been legally
produced has legal access the film.
Something else would apply if the film had been an illegal ... pirate
copy," the ruling said.
It found that consumers have rights to legally obtained DVD films "even
if the films are played in a different way than the makers had
Mr. Johansen said that was the key part of the ruling. "As long as you
have purchased a DVD legally then you are allowed to decode it with any
equipment, and can't be forced to buy any specific equipment," he said.
Copyright (c) 2002 Associated Press
Updated January 7, 2003 9:46 a.m. EST
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