9 December 2002
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 5:09 a.m. ET, December 9, 2002
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Jon Lech Johansen was only 15 when he wrote and distributed on the Internet for free a program that unlocked copy-protected DVDs, giving Hollywood nightmares and making him a folk hero among hackers.
Three years later, he's going on trial in an important test case for Norway's strict laws against computer piracy and hacking.
The proceedings begin Monday in Oslo District Court and are expected to last five days, with Johansen taking the stand. But whatever the trial's outcome, the digital copycat is well out of the bag.
The short program Johansen wrote is only one of many easily available programs that can break DVD security codes. One is included in a software package, sold by a U.S. company, that even burns DVDs after cracking the copy protection.
Johansen has refused to talk to reporters ahead of his trial. But his defense attorney, Halvor Manshaus, said the teenager has done nothing wrong, having only written a small program using security-breaking code developed and sent to him by others.
Under the law, Johansen could be sentenced to up to two years in prison, fines and compensation, although few expect the teen to do any prison time.
The charges were filed after Norwegian prosecutors received a complaint from the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the major Hollywood studios.
The prosecutors agreed with the movie industry that Johansen's program, in effect, left their property unlocked and open for theft. Called DeCSS, it compromised an industry-developed software scheme called the Content Scrambling System -- usually called CSS -- that was designed to prevent unauthorized duplication.
Johansen has said he wanted only to watch DVDs on his Linux-based computer, which lacked the DVD-viewing software of Windows and Macintosh users. However, DeCSS also lets people copy and share DVD files on the Internet, thus allowing others to obtain movies for free.
``The access was a violation because the DVD films were sold on the condition that the user would use authorized playing equipment and respect the copy protection,'' the indictment says.
More than 5,000 copies of the DeCSS program were downloaded from the Internet in the first three months after it was posted in late October 1999, prosecutors say.
Johansen, now 19 and known in Norway as ``DVD Jon'', became a rallying point for hackers, some of whom even marched in his support when witnessed at a New York trial against others who had linked to his DeCSS program.
In the United States, the case is seen as a test of freedom of expression, since proponents claim that writing such software is an exercise in intellectual freedom rather than an attempt to steal copyright material. The act of cracking the code in and of itself should not be criminal, such people argue.
Johansen's DeCSS program has been the subject of at least three lawsuits in the United States.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization based on San Francisco, Calif., has criticized the prosecution of Johansen as distorting a law intended for serious criminal activity, like breaking into a bank's computer system.
Johansen, it notes, merely broke in to a DVD he bought legally.
Background for the MPAA attack on Jon Johansen
New York mpaa-v-2600-cad.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Court of Appeals Decision November 29, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-ao2.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Amended Opinion by Judge Kaplan August 20, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-us2.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - USA Supplemental Brief June 20, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-caa.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Court of Appeals Transcript May 8, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-2ca.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - 2d Circuit Appeals Court Docket April 28, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-bpa.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA Brief Affirming DMCA February 24, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-ca2.txt + MPAA v. 2600 - DoJ Intervenes for MPAA February 18, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-agr.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Arnold Reinhold Amicus Brief January 28, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-bac.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Appeal Brief of Amici Curiae January 24, 2001 eff011901.htm + EFF Appeals MPAA v. 2600 Decision January 19, 2001 mpaa-v-2600-lk3.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Revised Order September 8, 2000 September 18, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-dkt.txt + MPAA v. 2600 - Court Docket September 15, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-lkd.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Decision for MPAA August 18, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-ptb.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA's Post-Trial Brief August 11, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-dms.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Declaration of Michael Shamos July 1, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-hs4.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Hearing Transcript June 27, 2000 June 30, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-ape.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA Anti-Piracy Employees June 25, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rb2.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - 2600 Reply Brief to Vacate PI June 16, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-jvd.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Jack Valenti Deposition June 16, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-pot.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Transcript Press Bar Hearing June 14, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-dht.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Transcript Discovery Hearing June 14, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-jvd.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Jack Valenti Deposition June 14, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-kj2.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Kenneth Jacobsen Deposition 2 June 14, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-kjd.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Kenneth Jacobsen Deposition 1 June 14, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rso.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA Law Memos and Declarations June 10, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rsd.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Schumann Deposition May 15, 2000 June 9, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-dis.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA Abuse of Discovery June 7, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-spo.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Split Ruling on Protective Order June 6, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-sds.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA Circumvents 2600 Techs June 6, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rpo.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Replies to Motion to Bar Press June 4, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-gmo.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Godwin/McCullagh Oppose Press Bar June 1, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-cs.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Cryptome On Motion to Bar Press June 1, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-mpo.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - MPAA's Motion for Barring Press May 31, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-poa.htm + MPAA v. 2600 - Protective Order Arguments May 26, 2000 dvd-mpaa-ccd3.htm + MPAA 2nd Cease and Desist Letter to Cryptome May 25, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-ddm.htm + MPAA v. 2600, Disqualification Motion Denied May 22, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-od.htm + MPAA v. 2600, Order Denying 2600 Motions May 13, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rm.htm + MPAA v. 2600, NY Times Affidavit May 13, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-ao.htm + MPAA v. 2600 Order to Show Cause, Garbus Affd't May 8, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-gs.htm + Declarations of Goldstein and Samuelson May 8, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-rb.htm + MPAA v. 2600 Defendants' Reply Brief on Linking May 4, 2000 mpaa-v-2600-nm.htm + MPAA v. 2600, Motion to Modify Prelim Injunct April 6, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-rk.htm + MPAA v. 3: Consent Judgment Against Roman Kazan March 17, 2000 dvd-mpaa-ccd2.htm + Responses to MPAA Notice to Cryptome on DeCSS February 9, 2000 dvd-mpaa-ccd.htm + MPAA Notice to Cryptome on DeCSS February 7, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-mo.htm + MPAA v. 3 - DeCSS Memorandum Opinion New York February 3, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-ht.htm + MPAA v. 3 - Hearing Transcript January 29, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-ac.htm + MPAA v. 3 - Amended Complaint to Bar Net Linking January 28, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-dr.htm + MPAA v. 3 - Defendants Reply January 22, 2000 dvd-mpaa-3-pi.htm + MPAA Preliminary Injunction Against DeCSS January 21, 2000 dvd-mpaa-v-3.htm + MPAA v. Reimerdes, Corley and Kazan NY Filings January 16, 2000 dvd-mpaa-v-4.htm + MPAA Files DVD Suits Against Four in NY/CT January 14, 2000 California pavolich-win.htm + Pavlovich v. DVDCCA - CA Supreme Court Opinion November 26, 2002 dvd-hoy-reply.htm + Restored File of Censored DVDCCA/Hoy Reply November 1, 2001 dvd-v-bunner.htm + DVDCCA v. Brunner - Prelim Injunction Reversed November 1, 2001 mp080701.htm + Court of Appeals Rules Against Pavlovich August 8, 2001 levy-update2.htm + Public Hearing in Matt Pavlovich Case July 11, 2001 levy-update.htm + Allonn Levy Update of CA/NY DVD-DeCSS Cases June 20, 2001 mp011801.htm + Matthew Pavlovich Granted Order to Show Cause January 19, 2001 dvd-v-fawcus.htm + DVD CCA v. Derek Fawcus: Motion to Quash November 14, 2000 dvd-v-521-pqa.htm + DVD CCA v. 521 - Pavlovich Quash Denial Appeal September 21, 2000 dvd-v-521-opq.htm + DVD v. 521 - Opposition to Pavolovich Quash August 25, 2000 dvd-v-521-mpq.htm + DVD v. 521 - Pavlovich Motion to Quash Summons August 2, 2000 dvd-v-ab-arb.htm + DVD CCA v. Brunner - Appellant's Reply Brief July 8, 2000 dvd-v-521-dl.htm + DVD-CCA v. 521- Demand Letter to Cryptome April 1, 2000 dvd-hoy-reply.htm + DVD CCA: Reply Declaration of John J. Hoy January 27, 2000 dvd-stevenson.htm + Frank Stevenson Declaration in DVDv521 January 10, 2000 dvd-bogk.htm + Critique of DVD DeCSS Claims January 3, 2000 dvd-order.htm + DVD Court Order Denying TRO December 31, 1999 dvd-v-521.htm + DVD v. 521 Court Filing Documents (194K) December 31, 1999 dvd-v-521.zip + DVD v. 521 Court Filing Documents (Zipped 47K) December 31, 1999 dvd122999.htm + DVD v. 500 Court Hearing Report December 30, 1999 eff-v-dvd.htm + EFF to Oppose DVD Complaint December 29, 1999 dvd-comments.htm + DVD Litigation Comments December 28, 1999 dvd-v-500.htm + DVD Complaint for Injunction December 28, 1999 General dvdcca-css.zip + DVD CCA CSS License and Procedures (215K) August 8, 2000 dmca-hearings.html + DMCA Hearings on Anti-Circumvention of Copyright June 19, 2000 pto060500.txt + RFC Intellectual Property Law Enforcement June 6, 2000 dmca060500.txt + RFC Digital Millennium Copyright Act June 6, 2000 dmca-eff.htm + EFF Testimony on DMCA May 26, 2000 dvd-op-al.htm + DVD Legal Battles: Suppressing Invention May 4, 2000 dvd-mpaa-dmca.htm + DMCA Anti-Circumvention Comments Deadline February 9, 2000 dmca-index.htm + Digital Millennium Copyright Act Collection February 15, 2000 decsspeech.htm + DeCSS in Speech Format February 8, 2000 OFFSITE CT2600 Mirror MPAA v. Hughes Motion to Dismiss - Mirror September 27, 2000 PT Brief MPAA v. 2600 - 2600 Post-Trial Brief /RG August 9, 2000 2600 Last MPAA v. 2600 Last Day of Trial Transcript /EK July 28, 2000 Coyle MPAA v. 2600 - Karen Coyle on Press Bar /RG June 6, 2000 Siva MPAA v. 2600 - S Vaidhyanathana on Press Bar /RG June 6, 2000 Openlaw MPAA v. 2600 - Openlaw Amicus Brief /WS May 30, 2000 OpenLaw-DVD OpenLaw Open DVD May 3, 2000 OpenLaw-DeCSS OpenLaw DeCSS Links and Commentary May 3, 2000 NY-Decl Declarations in NY MPAA v. 2600 May 3, 2000 JG-DVD Declaration of John Gilmore in DVD-DeCSS Suit Janaury 12, 2000 DW-DVD Declaration of David Wagner in DVD-DeCSS Suit Janaury 12, 2000 AB-DVD Declaration of Andrew Bunner in DVD-DeCSS Suit January 12, 2000 EFF-DVD EFF Intellectual Property DVD Issues Archives January 12, 2000 521 EFF Memo in Opposition to DeCSS Suit /LG January 7, 2000