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January 07, 2003
Jon Johansen Aquitted!

Yeah! That's justice being served twice in a row!

(The ElcomSoft verdict being the first time!)

Norwegian Teen Acquitted of DVD Piracy


``I'm very satisfied,'' he said after Sogn read the ruling. ``We won support on all points. I had figured that we could win, but it can go either way.''

The prosecution, which had called for a 90-day suspended jail sentence, confiscation of computer equipment and court costs, said it would decide in the next two weeks whether to appeal.

Johansen said he expects another round because this is the first such case in Norway.

``But clearly, winning the first round means a lot,'' Johansen said.

The ruling found that consumers have rights to legally obtained DVD films ``even if the films are played in a different way than the makers had foreseen.''

Johansen said that was key.

``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.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Norway-DVD-Kid.html

The New York Times A.P. Index

Norwegian Teen Acquitted of DVD Piracy
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 1:37 p.m. ET

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Dealing Hollywood a major setback, a Norwegian court acquitted a teenager Tuesday of violating computer break-in laws by creating a program to circumvent security codes on DVD movies.

The ruling was a key test of how far copyright holders can prevent people from using materials they legally obtained in the name of preventing others from engaging in piracy.

Jon Lech Johansen, who was 15 when he developed and posted the program on the Internet in late 1999, said he was only trying to play DVDs he already owned on his Linux-based computer, which did not already have DVD-viewing software.

Head judge Irene Sogn, in reading the verdict, said people cannot be convicted of breaking into their own property. Sogn said prosecutors failed to prove that 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.

The unanimous, 25-page ruling from the three-member Oslo City Court was the latest setback in the entertainment industry's drive to curtail illegal copying of its movies.

The Motion Picture Association of America had no comment, spokeswoman Phuong Yokitis said from Washington.

Johansen became a folk hero to hackers, especially in the United States, where a battle still rages over a 1998 copyright law that bans such software. He was elated by the verdict.

``I'm very satisfied,'' he said after Sogn read the ruling. ``We won support on all points. I had figured that we could win, but it can go either way.''

The prosecution, which had called for a 90-day suspended jail sentence, confiscation of computer equipment and court costs, said it would decide in the next two weeks whether to appeal.

Johansen said he expects another round because this is the first such case in Norway.

``But clearly, winning the first round means a lot,'' Johansen said.

The ruling found that consumers have rights to legally obtained DVD films ``even if the films are played in a different way than the makers had foreseen.''

Johansen said that was key.

``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.

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 equipment.

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 Johansen wrote is just one of many readily available programs that can break DVD security codes. One is included in a software package, sold by at least one U.S. company, that even burns DVDs after cracking the copy protection.

Charges against Johansen were filed after Norwegian prosecutors received a complaint from the MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association, the group that licenses CSS.

Prosecutors asserted that the program, in effect, left film studios' property unlocked and open for theft. The prosecution decided to charge Johansen with a data break-in, rather than handle the matter as a copyright case.

Prosecutors also accused Johansen of being an accessory to others making illegal copies of films by posting his program on the Internet.

Johansen had claimed he posted the program for others to test.


Posted by Lisa at 11:42 AM
December 11, 2002
First Hand Account Of Jon Johansen's Trial

Hey sorry I've been amiss in keeping this category up-to-date with the trial going on this week -- I've been covering the ElcomSoft Trial at the same time and it's getting pretty hairy keeping up with everything.

Here's a first hand account of the trial from Edward Welbourne via Declan's Politech.


Given that Økokrim confiscated everything in his home,
at the time, to hunt for pirated DVDs - without success,
not even copies of the DVDs he owns, which he's
*entitled* to copy - it's going to be fairly easy for
the defense to argue that what Jon wanted DeCSS
for was - shock, horror- in order to view DVDs
lawfully in his possession. The prosecutor even
made a big deal of bits of the DeCSS distribution
saying "this is only a decryptor" and how copying
the .vob files off the DVD itself was a separate
operation for which the user didn't need anything
special. I was somewhat at a loss to see how this
was meant to help her case ...

Other folk I spoke to in recesses said that they
thought the prosecutor was mainly aiming to
portray Jon in a bad light, rather than actually
showing any wrong-doing. Apparently she
described the open-source hackers working
on a DVD player as a criminal gang. There
were quotes from some IRC groups frequented
by copyright violators, including someone in one
group outright describing the group as a bunch of
criminals and telling Jon to go away because
he didn't want to hang with a bunch of criminals.
It's hard to see how they expect to dirty his
name with the news that he quit that forum once
this was made plain to him ...

Here's the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.politechbot.com/p-04233.html

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A first-hand account of Day One of Johansen trial in Norway

* Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 14:29:14 -0500
* To: politech@politechbot.com
* Subject: FC: A first-hand account of Day One of Johansen trial in Norway
* From: Declan McCullagh

Background on case:
http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=johansen
Photo:
http://www.mccullagh.org/image/950-10/jon-johansen-3.html

---

From: David Harris
To: declan@well.com
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="=-5zLS3sP+DPtnUARlEn6Z"
Date: 09 Dec 2002 19:08:45 +0000

declan,
An eye witness account of the first day of Jon Johansen deCSS trial in
Norway
--
David Harris


[long headers snipped --DBM]


From: Edward Welbourne
X-Uri: http://www.chaos.org.uk/~eddy/
Message-Id:
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 18:27:49 +0000

So I took a day's holiday to attend the opening of the trial. I showed
up slightly late (being in town by 9am stretches my dormouse tendencies
somewhat) and handed out some pieces of blue ribbon I'd cut before
setting off, and some pins, to familiar faces. My knowledge of
Norwegian isn't up to the intricate cut and thrust of a court-room; and
I have a rather dire head-cold which is adding to the confusion by
messing with: my brain's perception of the boundary between reality and
the semi-dream state I kept nodding off into; and my memory's clarity as
to which things were said in the trial and which things were my
conversations with others. Consequently, the following will swing
between reportage and gonzo in its approach to what was going on;
caveat lector.

Some of the time I had some idea what was going on, but mostly because
someone was quoting from e-mails or IRC logs that were på engelsk.
Maybe Alfred (of www.oplug.org) will reply to this with a clearer
indication of what was said. (A quick introduction: the OPLUG list Cc'd
here is the Oslo Pils and Linux Users' group; while free-sklyarov-uk,
a.k.a. ukcdr.org, is the Campaign for Digital Rights, and the list-name
is a reminder of its origins.)

The court is presided over by a judge/magistrate (I'm not claiming to
know exactly which is the more apt description) assisted by two experts
in the topic area, selected from outside the legal profession by some
kind of negotiation-with-veto protocol between the defense and
prosecution. I doubt I shall ever see a more beautiful judge ;^>

The prosecution is Økokrim, the Norwegian state economic/ecoligical
crime-busting bureau (recently also involved in chasing down some quite
dramatic big financial scandals). Their lawyer did most of the day's
talking, to which I'll return. She had an assistant, who had relatively
little to do: his moment of glory was driving the (windows) lap-top on
which he demoed use of The Matrix game DVD, copying of .vob files from
it to the computer's hard-disk, non-use of these copies (because
encrypted) and use of them with the help of DeCSS.

The defense team had two lawyers; a shaved-bald guy leading the team,
with a grin more-or-less premanently fixed on his face, and an assistant
whose (visible) role was even smaller than that of his opposite number.
Oh, and a 19-year-old accused of pissing off some big American
corporations, back when he was 15 - you may have heard of him ...

The day began with the prosecution setting out the charge and the
substantive form of the case (at least, that's what I *think* she was
doing); that took an hour and a bit, including the Matrix demo. Smiling
man then replied with a somewhat briefer statement of how our Jon wasn't
a naughty boy, or at least that's what I think he was saying. Somewhere
in all that, Jon got asked some questions and I guess one of them was
the formal one about guilt or innocense, but ... it was all på Norsk to
me. Shortly before noon, Jon was called to the witness stand; but he'd
only answered a few questions when we broke for lunch. The entire
afternoon session had Jon in the witness stand, albeit mostly with the
prosecutor reading stuff out and only occasionally asking him questions.

I may have mis-understood, but my impression is that Jon is charged
under some law relating to meddling with someone else's property by
breaking into computers. As such I sort of expected the case to revolve
around issues of how he accessed the windows-player from which I gather
he lifted some keys, whether that access was naughty or legal, etc.
[Not that this would really suffice, since it was *his* computer - it
didn't belong to the proprietor of the DVD program, let alone to the
DVD-CCA.]

Far from it.

The prosecutor went through the whole process of how DeCSS came into
being; Jon involved in discussion of Speed Ripper (or some similar name;
a binary-only DVD player from Drink Or Die) and how there's no way DOD
would be releasing its source, that's not their style; Jon contacting
Nomad, who'd written a decryptor but no front-end or keys; Jon blagging
a copy of this and promissing not to circulate it; Jon writing a GUI for
it [prosecutor asking what a GUI is - pardon ? - yes, really, the
Økokrim counsel didn't appear to know], letting Nomad play with it,
asking for permission to distribute the result; more saga, but I didn't
catch it all. Nothing shocking or naughty. Prosecutor tried to make a
big deal of a quote, from an exchange between Jon and Nomad, "we're
behaving just like Microsoft", rather too obviously in jest to be a big
deal.

There was a fair bit of questioning about how DeCSS came to be released,
including some stress between Jon and Nomad over a `by mistake' upload
which was hastily removed; and a whole lot of e-mails about why not to
release it with the keys `visible' (since this would just lead to the
DVD-CCA revoking those keys and the company whose keys they were being
liable to an ugly law-suit). The defense should have no real problem
dealing with the issues in this as Jon being a naïve 15-year-old who
just wanted to be able to play his DVDs and was eager to let other folk
use his program, without concern over how folk might abuse it.

Somewhere in that there was some coverage of Jon having three OSen
installed (FreeBSD, GNU/Linux and Windows), during which the prosecutor
got confused by Jon referring to "GNU/Linux", rather than "Linux" per
se; and appeared to be confused about how one computer can have more
than one O/S (or, at least, there was a confusion which appeared to be
about dual boot).

The prosecutor devoted a whole lot of attention to the fact that Jon was
working on Windows, writing a program that only ran on Windows, taking
pains to make the result run well on various versions of Windows; not
writing for Linux. This presumably to undermine the `I wanted a DVD
player for my Linux box' argument - though I'd happily argue that, since
he'd only just started playing with Linux at the time and had experience
with Windows, the sane thing to do was to write a Windows version first,
if only as practice; releasing it open source in some form would then
give it plenty of scope to be ported to Linux by folk who knew how to do
that well, so implementing for Windows is an effective way to *get* an
implementation for Linux. In any case, he also has the entirely
legitimate other reason to want a DVD player under his own control: to
by-pass the MacroMedia access control - e.g. to be able to fast-forward
over (trailers/advertising if any, but in any case) the US-specific
legal notice that (IIRC - can anyone confirm/deny ?) gets put up for a
while *even* on DVDs that're region-locked to be unplayable in the US
(d'*uh*).

Given that Økokrim confiscated everything in his home, at the time, to
hunt for pirated DVDs - without success, not even copies of the DVDs he
owns, which he's *entitled* to copy - it's going to be fairly easy for
the defense to argue that what Jon wanted DeCSS for was - shock, horror
- in order to view DVDs lawfully in his possession. The prosecutor even
made a big deal of bits of the DeCSS distribution saying "this is only a
decryptor" and how copying the .vob files off the DVD itself was a
separate operation for which the user didn't need anything special. I
was somewhat at a loss to see how this was meant to help her case ...

Other folk I spoke to in recesses said that they thought the prosecutor
was mainly aiming to portray Jon in a bad light, rather than actually
showing any wrong-doing. Apparently she described the open-source
hackers working on a DVD player as a criminal gang. There were quotes
from some IRC groups frequented by copyright violators, including
someone in one group outright describing the group as a bunch of
criminals and telling Jon to go away because he didn't want to hang with
a bunch of criminals. It's hard to see how they expect to dirty his
name with the news that he quit that forum once this was made plain to
him ...

Smiling man, in his morning response to the charges, told the court
about the glass-master stomping industrial press reality of DVD
counterfeiting, and its lack of any need for decryption of the content
in the process, as opposed to the industry-promoted myth of Peg-Leg Geek
with his cutlass, eye-patch and - presumably - a penguin on his
shoulder.

The press were out in force in the morning - the state television
channel's reporter spoke to me briefly in the lunch recess, I explained
about how a programmer needs to be able to write code to access the data
on legally-acquired media; but when she suggested having her colleague
point a *camera* at me I hastily re-directed them to Håkon Wium Lie
(co-author of the *other* CSS, Cascading Style Sheets; and he was among
the assorted folk vetoed by Økokrim to be among the judge's advisers),
since he was conveniently on hand and is much better at that stuff.
Plus, being Norwegian, he talks the right language.

The trial is vaguely expected to take a week, but I shalln't be getting
to any more of it.

Eddy.


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Posted by Lisa at 11:10 AM
August 06, 2002
Update On the Jon Johansen Trial

Jon Johansen's trial has been rescheduled to December 9, 2002 so that a technically-savvy judge can be located for the trial (hey! there's an idea :-)

Read more about it (along with a note frooom Jon explaining that he didn't even write the particular piece of code in question on
Greplaw.

Here's the EFF's Jon Johansen Information Website for more information about the details of the case.

clip from referenced article:

Date Set For Jon Johansen DVD Trial
posted by mpawlo on Tuesday August 06, @08:39AM
from the your-code-is-mine dept.
The Norweigan "Byrett" (district court) will try the Jon Johansen DVD case on December 9, 2002. The trial was supposed to take place this summer, but the court decided to postpone the trial to find a technology savvy judge. The case will be tried by one judge and a panel of two lay assessors.

Jon Johansen is being prosecuted by the Norwegian Economic Crime Unit (OKOKRIM) under Norwegian Criminal Code 145(2). Johansen created DeCSS software that can enable DVD playback on Linux. It is argued that the DeCSS software is a piracy tool.

Posted by Lisa at 10:38 AM