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DeCSS: Jon Johansen Acquitted In Retrial 457

Posted by Hemos
from the come-down-early dept.
EssJay writes "DVD-Jon is acquitted in the retrial. The verdict was expected in January, but was announced today in the papers." We had posted about the retrial beginning - it's a good holiday present to get this early.
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DeCSS: Jon Johansen Acquitted In Retrial

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:02AM (#7785247)
    Let us hope this finally means we have a right to decrypt data media which we own a licence to watch.

    Common sense 1, recording industry, nil
    • by KjetilK (186133) <kjetil@@@kjernsmo...net> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:10AM (#7785301) Homepage Journal
      I've not read the verdict, but according the news reports, that is exactly what the court thinks. If it is yours, any obstacle towards using it is illegitimate and may be circumvented. It sounds quite good. But it may only last untill EUCD is implemented...
      • by julesh (229690) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:39AM (#7785463)
        But it may only last untill EUCD is implemented...

        The UK EUCD implementation grants specific requirements that mean you must be allowed access to an unencrypted copy of the data if you have a legitimate reason for needing it... unforuntately the procedure for enforcement of this is ridiculously complicated (you must complain to the home secretary, IIRC).

        I'm not sure how it'll work in norway, but I'd hope there would be some similar provision.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        IIRC Norway is not a part of the EU.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The People of Norway repeatedly refused to join the EU. However, the Government of Norway had little choice but to join the European Economic Space, which is EU+Norway, and basically means that Norway has to implement all "interstate commerce" directives but has zero decision and bartering power with respect to the wording of these directives.
          • However, the Government of Norway had little choice but to join the European Economic Space,

            Area. In English, it's called the European Economic Area (I know it's confusing at times; it's called "space" (Ruimte) in Dutch as well). And Norway had every freedom not to join -- it's just that at the time Norway was expecting that it WOULD shortly be joining the EU. That is, after all, what the Area was all about: a stepping-stone to full EU (then EC) membership.

            which is EU+Norway

            I'm sure Iceland for one ap

            • by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 22, 2003 @01:09PM (#7787038) Homepage
              Area. In English, it's called the European Economic Area (I know it's confusing at times; it's called "space" (Ruimte) in Dutch as well). And Norway had every freedom not to join -- it's just that at the time Norway was expecting that it WOULD shortly be joining the EU. That is, after all, what the Area was all about: a stepping-stone to full EU (then EC) membership.

              The original EEA, which was a deal between EU and EFTA, was a rather good agreement between two both fairly large European organizations, e.g. in the joint court there'd be 2:3 EFTA:EU judges. It wasn't directly designed as some kind of "trial EU membership", not in that sense, but of course it laid the groundwork for even tighter integration and most people looked at it as a stepping stone.

              However, the whole balance of power shifted in 1994, when most of the other countries joined the EU. You can almost say they merged. Only Norway, Iceland and a couple others you need a magnifying glass to see on a map were left "outside", in EFTA. We turned it down with about 53% no, so was a close call. They got a lot bigger, we got a lot smaller. And with EU expanding, it is shifting even more.

              Ever since that time, it's become more and more like a leash. Where is was once thought that in case of a disagreement, both sides would hold reasonable power to dispute it, we're now getting directives slapped at us with a "take it or leave it", with the joint force of EU behind it and only a slumbering veto power paragraph if we disagree.

              Some of our politicians tout our independence (as independent as being a speck of dust instead of a rock in a storm) and have in general a very inflated view of Norway's role on the international scene. No, being so small, insignificant and without commercial interests that we make good neutral peacemakers is NOT a sign of power!

              I think Norway should either get in EU, or get out of EEA. Preferably in EU. But what we have today, is pretty much the worst of both worlds, stuck in a limbo, that yes, we didn't expect to be in. At least within EU we'd be a voice in the choir, right now our situation reminds me of a Calvin&Hobbes strip. Calvin is out looking at the stars, gazing out in the great depths. Then he yells "I mean something". And then in the final scene "...roared the speck of dust". Translated it back from Norwegian to English, so not sure if I got it literally correct. You get the picture.

              Kjella
      • by BenTels0 (667908) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:28AM (#7786208)
        But it may only last untill EUCD is implemented...

        That doesn't seem particulalry likely. The central reason that Johansen was never found guilty was that he didn't write or distribute this software with the purpose of violating copyrights (as in making copies and redistributing) but for enabling premissible use (i.e. making the damn things readble under Linux after you spent good money on them). That use remains permissible and Artible 6, sub 4 of that same Directive states that both governments and industry must see to it that it remains possible to take such permissible actions and that circumventing copyright protections for such purposes can never be a violation.

      • by Pofy (471469) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:50PM (#7788914)
        Actually the EUCD may, or may not apply, depending a bit on how each country implement the directive.

        Here we are dealing with accessing the DVD, there is nothing in it that prevents making a copy of the DVD (it will end up as an encrypted copy as well of course), but the "protection" does not prevent copying in any way, only access.

        The EUCD deals with circumvention of protection that deals with copyright issues. For example copying which is a right the copyright holder has. Accessing a work is NOT something exlusive to the copyright holder and hence not an issue of copyrights.

        If you look at the Swedish implementation (or suggestion for it at least), they make exactly this reasoning and the implementation only deal with protection that deals with copyright rights. Encrypting something for example, is not such a thing (nor is for example region coding, which is also specifically mentioned). Hence you can circumvent or do whatever you want in that regard.

        Some EU countries might implement it differently and also include access protection but that is NOT a necessity under the EUCD.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:12AM (#7785310)
      I think you misunderstand what the case was all about. The ruling means that Jon did nothing wrong by creating software that cracked the DRM, not that anyone else has the right to use it. This is the same as trying to prosecute Merck or its chemists for creating Oxycontin. What people do with technology is not the responsibility of its creator.
    • Maybe it does, if you live in Norway...

      From what I read here at /. those of you living in the USA shouldn't hold your breath as long as you have the motion picture and music industries controlling your legislature :-(

    • by IdleTime (561841) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:25AM (#7785381) Journal
      The court also said that the limitations printed on each DVD was not legal and that they looked more like a private law addendum that severly limited your legal rights according to Norwegian Copyright laws. It also said there is a huge difference between copying a relatively brittle media like a CD compared to a more durable media like a book. The law gives you a clear and unstoppable right to make private backup copies and an encryption or copy protection schema is directly hindering you in executing your legal rights, hence Jon was aquitted.
      • What right is this that people keep talking about?

        In the U.S., and a few other countries I know of, it's generally been the case that you are ALLOWED to make a backup copy of digital media, but you do not have the RIGHT to it. That means that if you can, you may, but if they implement some assinine "protection", things like the DMCA can kick you in the nuts for making your copy.

        In fact, our sister company determined, about a year and a half ago, that, according to German law, German consumers DO NOT have

        • by IdleTime (561841) on Monday December 22, 2003 @01:16PM (#7787100) Journal
          By Norwegian Copyright Laws, you have the RIGHT to make backup copies of your legally purchased stuff. This is, as you said, substanially different from many countries copyright laws.

          Personally, I think it is only fair to have a law to protect your rights in this area. I'm only protecting my investments. By storing originals off-site, i.e bank-vault, I can restore my huge CD collection after let's say a fire or water damage since I only use the copies at home.
    • by arth1 (260657) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:26AM (#7785391) Homepage Journal
      Let us hope this finally means we have a right to decrypt data media which we own a licence to watch.

      It appears to mean just that in Norway, at least.

      While Norway isn't a member of the European Union (EU), they are -- like Switzerland -- a member of the European Economic Cooperative (EEC), and laws are quite often synchronized across EU+EEC. This might have influence on, if not directly affecting, how EU laws will be interpreted.

      EEC seems to be one of the three remaining venues of appeal for the MPAA and its lackeys in this case -- it's hard to imagine how this ruling could be anti-competitive in nature or otherwise impart European trade rules, but it's a possibility.

      The case might also be escalated to the Norwegian supreme court, for a principal ruling. However, I am not sure that the MPAA would want that to happen, as that would be a definitive ruling affecting all similar cases in the future, and with the firm rulings of the two lower courts, it's highly unlikely that the Norwegian supreme court would rule differently.

      The third venue of continued legal action would be to charge Mr Johansen according to US laws in the US, because the GUI for DeCSS that he published was made available on the US market. Let's hope that Mr Johansen has learned from the Skylarov case, and won't be stupid enough to visit the US in the near future.

      Regards,
      --
      *Art
      • by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:40AM (#7786290) Homepage
        The case might also be escalated to the Norwegian supreme court, for a principal ruling. However, I am not sure that the MPAA would want that to happen, as that would be a definitive ruling affecting all similar cases in the future, and with the firm rulings of the two lower courts, it's highly unlikely that the Norwegian supreme court would rule differently.

        They do definately not want that to happen, but they have very little choice. Since the prosecution can appeal, it will set precedent if they choose not to appeal. Unlike the US, where I understand you must be found guilty all the way up to the supreme court to ever get there, since any aquittal is final. Yes, it does suck for DVD-Jon. But for the rest of us, it means that a precedent will be set at the first possible opportunity, not with some poster child case for the prosecution.

        The Norwegian economic crime unit is getting major egg-on-face factor out of this. They've spent 4 years prosecuting a single teen individual with two straight losses in court. This is like an advanced task force that's supposed to deal with organized crime, fraud, embezzlement, stock scams, anti-cometitive behavior, corruption, money laundering and so on. Yes, "computer crimes" is also defined as one of their specialities, but I think everyone but themselves think that going after DVD-Jon is shooting sparrows with a cannon. Which makes it all the more embarassing when they fail.

        I think they will try to appeal - simply because they have nothing to lose. If nothing else, just to delay this becoming a final precedent until after the EUCD has been implemented, making the ruling primarily of historical interest. Though I'm sure it will be interesting to see the same argunents about what legal rights you have compared to the legal limitations of the EUCD. Either way, congratulations to DVD-Jon. That this ruling was made already now (wasn't expected until mid-January) is a clear sign, that the prosecution's arguments were quite sternly rejected.

        Kjella
  • excellent news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:04AM (#7785257) Homepage
    at least there's one country where corporate fascists cant buy everything. I hope the prosecuters are fired afterwards, wasting tax payer's money to shill for a bunch of scum bags in suits is hardly in the public interests.
    • Re:excellent news (Score:5, Informative)

      by StupidGoose (650732) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:09AM (#7785295)
      IANALBIAAN.
      (I am not a lawyer, but I am a Norwegian.)
      Actually, I think the norwegian justice system is more corporation-friendly than the american one.
      For example the MS anti-trust trial - it would never happen here. Inside trading, etc., is often ignored as well.
      • Re:excellent news (Score:4, Informative)

        by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:29AM (#7785411) Homepage
        well at least your appeals court doesnt whole sale agree with the corporatists. Here in the US, we have a company (directv) that will sue you simply for owning a smart card programmer. And unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars laying around handy, your only option is to get extorted for $2000 (i think thats the current amount they are extorting for). All because one greedy corporation decided that any one with a smart card programmer must be pirating their crap.

        Thats the US (in)justice system for you. Of big business, by big business, and for big business.
  • Warm Fuzzys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0mni (734493) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:04AM (#7785262)
    Does anyone else get a warm feeling when someone who didnt break a law DOESNT get convicted of it? Everyone breathe a sigh of relief now. Maybe we wont all get jailed if someone steals a knife from our home then kills someone else with it. Hurah for Freedom.
    • Re:Warm Fuzzys (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Salgak1 (20136)
      . . .but only if you keep your knives in a government-approved Knife Safe, otherwise you were "negligent". Even the butter knives.

      It's a good thing we don't get ALL the Government we pay for: can you imagine policies like this with COMPETENT Government employees and enforcement ????

  • by jdesbonnet (22) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:06AM (#7785270)
    Hey, do you think they'll give up after only two retrials?
    • by lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:13AM (#7785318) Homepage
      Hey, do you think they'll give up after only two retrials?

      They have to. The next higher court (the "highest court") is the last stop. No case can go further. If the high court decides to hear it (as they probably should) then it becomes a precedent.

      P.S. And they aren't retrials per se. The Norwegian, and Swedish, legal systems allow for a maximum of three trials in succedingly higher courts. And only the highest court can set a precedent.

      Also, no plea bargains, no jury (only laypersons that sit for a longer term), no bail, and the state pays for your lawyer of choice who can claim according to a set (fairly generous) standard (there are no criminal attorneys that operate outside of that system).

      • by StormReaver (59959) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:44AM (#7785494)
        "Also, no plea bargains, no jury (only laypersons that sit for a longer term), no bail, and the state pays for your lawyer of choice who can claim according to a set (fairly generous) standard (there are no criminal attorneys that operate outside of that system)."

        So far I like this system much better than our (American) system. Can the State drown the defendant in prosecuting lawyers whereas the defendant is only entitled to one lawyer, or it is one prosecutor and one defender?
        • IANAL.
          So far I have not heared about any cases against private persons where the state has used more han two prosecuting lawyers.

          In some business cases (Norsk Hydro vs. Government?) I think they are allowed to use more lawyers in the case "build up" and investigation.

        • by lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:43AM (#7785882) Homepage
          Can the State drown the defendant in prosecuting lawyers whereas the defendant is only entitled to one lawyer, or it is one prosecutor and one defender?

          Well, I don't know the specifics about Norway, but in Sweden it is one prosecutor. However, he is also formally the head of the police investigation team, so he has some help there also. As such he has a sworn duty to try and find the truth, and hence if he uncovers anything that would tend to exhonorate the defendant he has to take that into account in trial as well (i.e. has to make it known to the court), so at least in theory he's (to some small extent) working for you in court as well, though in practice it may not be perfect.

          Note though that the prosecutor is a civil servant, i.e. not elected, so you won't see "show trials" just for the publicity. Prosecutors are fairly anonymous people here.

          Also, there's often another lawyer on the prosecutors "team", that's there to represent the interests of the victim, not the state, in cases where damages to the victim may be awarded (we don't typically do a separate civil suit for that, though there's nothing stoping it in theory). Thus the verdict can come down as "three years in prison, a fine and damages paid to the victims). I don't know if that's done in the US?

          It's not a perfect system. But on balance it's not a bad system either.

          • Since you asked. This is in no way exhustive. You legal system is more complex than you tax codes, but here is the basics:

            In a criminal trial the prosecution is represented by government lawyers. Generally, there are two of them one primary and one backup. They are not police officers but are officers of the court, which means they are sworn to find the truth. Like in Norway, they must present exculpatory evidence if they have it. Doesn't meant they always do, but that's what the law says they have to. The

      • Of course they have to give up, this is Norway.

        Now, if the case were tried in California--it'd be another story--the wall of the courtroom would burst open in a cloud of flame and smoke and you'd hear a deep voice with an Austrian accent say "I ahm de highest court. Hasta la vista, baby"
  • Odd... (Score:5, Funny)

    by IngramJames (205147) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:06AM (#7785277)
    Let me get this straight:
    a court of law has ruled against the big media companies and for the little hacker guy who wrote a cool C++ program to let us all watch DVDs that we legally own?

    Was Rod Sterling seen anywhere near the court, at all?
    • Re:Odd... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In Norway the tradition is for the courts to tell the big companies to fuck off.

      A case with a faulty component in a VCR even landed in the supreme court and the "little guy" won.

      The judges are not elected but hired and our politicians are not easily bought in a society with so few peope.

      What they lack in corruptability they make up for in naivety, though, so it evens out.
  • by cluge (114877) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:07AM (#7785280) Homepage
    With this decision, perhaps people will be brave enough to go after the bad provisions of the DMCA. While intended to protect copyrighted material the DMCA has been used to stifle research, threaten researchers, prevent disclosure of security bugs and all but make reverse engineering illegal. I believe that the United States needs it's own "DVD-Jon" that will show people that the DMCA is an ill considered poorly written law. So far when the DMCA has been brought into force against teachers, the people pressing charges have backed down. Thus the law stands and there is no clear lightening rod get the publics attention.

    The US needs a DVD-Jon - any takers?

    AngryPeopleRule [angrypeoplerule.com]

    • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:13AM (#7785315) Homepage
      I'd pity any American (Disclosure: i am an US citizen) who would take on the DVD-Jon role right now. Between the MPAA, RIAA, and Ashcroft and the republican regime, there probably would be no end to the dirty tricks and massive thought crime prosecution that would result. Hell its only a matter of time before people making mp3's are declared copyright terrorists and sentenced to lengthy jail terms in cuba :)
      • "Hell its only a matter of time before people making mp3's are declared copyright terrorists and sentenced to lengthy jail terms in cuba :)"

        Sentenced and jail terms? You must mean 'declared copyright terrorists, shipped off to Cuba and held indefinitely without a trial'.

        • Cool! Actually it's pretty foggy and nasty here, and the girls wear too many clothes (and booze and cigars are way too expensive.) I wouldn't mind being shipped off to Cuba and staying there indefinitely without a trial.

          Oh, I guess you mean that horrible resort hotel in Gargamo, wotsitcalled, not Club Med. :(

      • by tommck (69750) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:53AM (#7785550) Homepage
        Between the MPAA, RIAA, and Ashcroft and the republican regime

        Yes... there are NO democrats in support of the DMCA...

        Let's see... the DMCA was proposed by DEMOCRAT Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina. A Democratically controlled Senate passed the law. (Granted, the house was Republican-controlled at that time.)
        A DEMOCRAT President (Clinton) signed the DMCA into law...


        Those damned Republicans!

    • "The US needs a DVD-Jon - any takers?"

      are you kidding? without dmca and under a more open atmosphere kevin mitnick was accused of being capable of start a nuclear war using a pay phone and a whistler and stoling code from sun that worth 1 billion (the prosecution said it, the same code that you could buy at the time around US$300)

      the russian guy... the one that cracked adobe pdf, spent days in the jail without proper defense

      with that paranoia what do you think that would happen to a DVD John in the US? t
    • by EinarH (583836) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:43AM (#7785493) Journal
      The US needs a DVD-Jon - any takers?
      I can't think of why any sane person would want to take on such a case in US.

      1. The risk is way too high. In Norway DVD-Jon risked _maximum theoretically_ two years in a nice prison and a fine of a 250000 NOK ($37000). In USA I would think that the stakes are significantly higher; several 5-10(?) years in prison and millions in expenses.

      2. The lawyer cost in US would be much higher. The Norwegian state pays all of Mr. Johansens bills. In USA you would have had to sell your kidneys.

      3. Judges and a expert jury ruled in this case. In USA the whole case would have been decided by a non-technical jury influenced by media and excellent RIAA/MPAA lawyers. Good luck.

  • It's not a retrial (Score:5, Informative)

    by KjetilK (186133) <kjetil@@@kjernsmo...net> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:07AM (#7785281) Homepage Journal
    It's not really a retrial. IANAL (but I am Norwegian), but I think retrials happen when the Supreme Court finds that a lower court has messed up badly. This was an ordinary appeal process. In Norwegian courts, both parties can appeal, and the police appealed the previous acquittal, so it was sent to a higher court, which rejected the appeal.

    It's not quite over yet, the police can appeal to the Supreme Court, which may or may not decide to hear it. The ultimate humiliation for the police would be if it was appealed but the Supreme Court decided not to hear it. But given the amount of beating the police has had in this case, they would be pretty fanatical to even think about appealing.

    But yeah, it didn't take them too long, the case was apparently quite easy for the judges.

    • by bwz (13374) <erik@elmgreRABBITn.org minus herbivore> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:19AM (#7785344) Homepage
      In US (I think this is from the UK legal tradition that they inherited) aquittal by Jury means no appeal for prosecution while in the "rest of the world" (where there are usually no juries) both prosecution and defense have more similar possibilities of appeal.

      In at least Sweden (where I am from) aquittal by the jury means no appeal for the prosecutor, but jury trial is only used in "freedom of press" cases such as libel.

      Further, It is not the police that prosecutes a case, but rather the "publics prosecutor" (I suppose like a district attourney in the US) or in this case a special "public prosecutor" tasked with a specific type of crimes.

      These prosecutors work closely with the police though, and directs much of their work.

      Erik
  • by Nakanai_de (647766) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:09AM (#7785292)
    ...or, more specifically, its judicial system:

    The new ruling was made by a panel of three professional judges backed up by four lay judges, two of whom had technical expertise relevant to the case.

    Why can't trials in the US (especially regarding technology) be overseen by judges with relevant expertise? Doesn't that seem like an obvious component of having a fair, just ruling?

    • by EinarH (583836) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:21AM (#7785358) Journal
      Actually, one of the judge-experts was a guy from Linpro [linpro.no], a Norwegian consulting firm and the leading Linux company in Norway.

      In a case like this I would rather stand in front of a judge with a jury consisting of experts rater that "clueless" non-technical fellow citizens.

    • I'm from Finland and I believe that the Norwegian justice sustem similarly to the Finnish one follows the Germanic juridic tradiotion, where the anglo-saxon "jury" institution is not widely used. In fact most of the judgements are passed by professional judges and in the few cases where a jury is used is in cases where the judgement is done by a panal of judges. The panel has allways more lawyers than laymen.
    • "Why can't trials in the US (especially regarding technology) be overseen by judges with relevant expertise? Doesn't that seem like an obvious component of having a fair, just ruling?"

      Not only that, but a jury of your peers as applied to white collar charges should require experience and knowledge in the white collar field. Only people in the field will have an adequate perspective to apply to the case.

      After all, Joe Blow McDonald's cashier does not have adequate perspective to weigh such issues as decry
    • Why can't trials in the US (especially regarding technology) be overseen by judges with relevant expertise? Doesn't that seem like an obvious component of having a fair, just ruling?

      Defendants in criminal cases have the ability to waive the jury and submit to a "bench trial", in which the judge is both the finder of law and the finder of fact. It is a tactic used very frequently when the case turns on something very subtle, and the defendant believes the jury might be confused. Judges have extensive e

  • No surprise here... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette&gmail,com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:09AM (#7785293) Homepage Journal
    The prosecution didn't come up with anything new in this appeal, at least not anything that could contribute significantly to the case. It was a "no-brainer" for the judge and jury.

    A few points that are in an article in Norwegian and not the English article (translated directly, I'm not responsible for journalists' errors):

    • 40-bit crypto is too weak (export maximum); you need a minimum of 64-bit; CSS is 16-bit
    • Johansen was not required to used "authorized" equipment to play the DVD.
    • You have the right to take a copy of the DVD for private use.
    • It is not illegal to break the copy-protection code.

    Unfortunately, despite a second humiliation, I have a feeling they're going to appeal this to the Supreme Court. And waste more taxpayer's money.

    I wonder if Inger Marie Sunde is going to take another "sabbatical" now, like last time hehe...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:10AM (#7785302)
    Immediately after the trial, Oekokrim prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde commented:

    Norway is a den of copyright criminals. Make no mistake; we in Oekokrim and our new best friends from the MPAA won't give up our holy fight to take avay the evil fair use rights from the Norwegian movie fans just because our holy cause suffered a minor setback today.

    Indeed, another criminal right up Johansen's alley is already under investigation and will be brought to justice soon. This criminal mastermind is known as VHS-Lars [www.nrk.no].

    There is reason to believe he has has connections to Osama bin Laden, too.

  • Justice At Last (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <(sd_resp2) (at) (earthshod.co.uk)> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:17AM (#7785337)
    DVD Jon has done nothing wrong. Now it's official that he has done nothing illegal either. Fair play to him and his supporters, and sorry it's taken so long.

    I think British copyright law, EUCD notwithstanding, explicitly allows what Jon did, but the wording is a bit convoluted and non-obvious and would need testing in court.

    Still, it reaffirms the common-sense position that it is not a crime to use goods you own for their intended purpose, even if in the course of so doing you are required by circumstances to invent a tool.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does this open the way to reverse-engineering *any* software? Could we, for instance, go to Norway and reverse-engineer Windows?

    While it is not particularly well-written software, I'm sure we could learn many things from the source code that we could use in Open Source Software/Free Software/GNU/Linux. I'm thinking specifically the GUI and Windows' tip-top TCP/IP stack.
  • by KjetilK (186133) <kjetil@@@kjernsmo...net> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:29AM (#7785408) Homepage Journal
    I haven't yet read the verdict, but some details seems to come out now. From the largish norwegian paper VG [www.vg.no], I'm trying a translation:
    DVD-films are stored on a medium which is prone become damaged. For that reason, it is very different to copy a movie from a book or a periodical, it says in the verdict.

    The court also makes clear that a prohibition against copying as printed on the film cover will limit consumer's legitimate rights as granted by section 12 of the copyright code.

    "This practice can be compared to private legislation, and can disturb the balance between interests that the law builds upon," said the judge.

    This is good, especially the last paragraph. Apparently, the verdict makes it clear that the film industry is infringing on people's rights, not the other way around. It also makes it clear that any "you owe us your first-born" licenses or restrictions is null and void, and even ought to raise some eyebrows with legislators. It makes it clear that the entertainment industry is trying to take legislator's jobs away from them, by themselves setting all the rules. That ought to make legislators slightly upset, I would assume...

  • by leoaugust (665240) <<leoaugust> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:30AM (#7785413) Journal

    Well Done DVD-Jon

    Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. [brainyquote.com]

    There is a beautiful Gallery of CSS descramblers by Dr. David S. Touretzky (Carnegie Mellon University). [cmu.edu]

    His site is a gallery devoted to representations of a piece of software that has been deemed illegal because it can be used to break through the copy-protection system on DVD movies. [princeton.edu]

    "It never occurred to me that someone would actually try to prevent people from publishing code that they wrote," he said. "The idea just struck me as so deeply offensive that I felt I had to do something about it."

    To make his point about free speech, he offered several exhibits from his gallery, including a description of the DeCSS code in plain English and a T-shirt on which the code was printed -- both of which could be considered illegal under the copyright act.

  • Good, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akiaki007 (148804) <aa316@nyu . e du> on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:33AM (#7785432)
    This is good. Very good news. BUT, this is in Norway, and it does not change much for those of us in the US. Yes it does help, because if he was prosecuted, then the MPAA would have won outright, but because he was not, the rock has been chipped. Now only if the US courts would see it as logically as the Norse courts do, then all would be grand. Then again, nothing here is ever done logically. I can't wait for this to really impact the MPAA.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      This is good. Very good news. BUT, this is in Norway, and it does not change much for those of us in the US.

      ...but it does mean that I can put up DeCSS tools on any Norwegian homepage, and not have it pulled because it is a legal, reverse-engineered tool. If the US invents some new draconian CSS2+ ultra super with sugar and cream, you can buy one of those, take it back to Norway and hack the hell out of it. Look at that QTfairuse program for iTunes, ever noticed that there is no iTMS in Norway yet?

      Yes
  • by Locky (608008) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:34AM (#7785436) Homepage
    And I just registered freedvdjon.com !
    Who would have thought the courts would rule correctly? :(
    • Don't worry about it.

      Just add 'with 2 proofs of purchase of a copy of DeCSS'

      I have trouble seeing how anyone would ever match that--even if someone did sell it, you'd only need one copy. On the other hand, if someone ever sent you the two bar codes, you'd better make sure you have some rope, duct tape, and a mighty big Norwegia-sized shipping crate ready.
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:36AM (#7785447)
    We should be able to copy our own DVD's, especially in countries like Canada, where if you buy a blank DVD*R, you pay a tax on it based on the assumption that you WILL copy. In places like this, if you are allowed to copy, you are getting your money's worth for the tax.
  • by tacocat (527354)
    Does this mean that I can once again google openly for a copy of decss or maybe even find it as part of a package/rpm/deb/tgz?
  • The Chewbacca Defense:

    Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense!

    Why would a Wookiee -- an eight foot tall Wookiee -- want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!

    But more importantly, you have to ask yourself: what does that have to do with this case?

    Nothing. Ladi
  • Backups allowed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:45AM (#7785503)
    The whole verdict can be found here (norwegian): "http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=206926"

    "a DVD-record is a fragile media that may be damaged, thus the buyer must be entitled to make a copy, for-instance of a film that he wants to preserve".
  • The new ruling was made by a panel of three professional judges backed up by four lay judges, two of whom had technical expertise relevant to the case.

    Read: NERDS :)
    He had to win :)
  • by threeturn (622824) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:03AM (#7785602)
    Good news, but the quoted article [aftenposten.no] annoys me.

    Why does the press always uncritically report that DeCSS "cracks DVD copy protection codes"? It is clear that CSS is about preveting changes to region coding and the extraction of media. It doesn't prevent copying of the original DVD in any way, shape or form. As long as the DVD industry can sustain the spin that CSS is about copy protection they are winning the hearts and minds war.

    How can we get the press to report these issues in a more intelligent way?

  • by pkaral (104322) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:08AM (#7785635)
    I was in court for the defence procedure, and here is some additional info:

    DVD Jon was charged with breaking a rule in the Norwegian penal code that makes it illegal to "break a protection ... and thereby gain illegitimate access to data" (145,2). This is a different part of Norwegian law than that which deals with protection of Intellectual Property. The defence argued that this rule was a continuation of the old one that protected the secrecy of letters and other forms of communication, and that a movie therefore is not "data" according to this law. As far as I understand, the court did not concede this.

    However, the crux of the case ended up being the term "illegitimate access". The court decided that there is nothing illegitimate about breaking a protection to gain access to something you have bought. An important part of this is that in Norway, the labels that distributors stick on DVDs, CDs and software are not binding for consumers (more explicit consent is required for binding agreements). If the labels were binding, the access would have been illegitimate. Luckily for Jon (and for freedom of information), this is not the case.
  • by Quietti (257725) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:51AM (#7786370) Journal
    See [bbc.co.uk] for yourselves. Say what you want, but it appears that, after Tony Blair, the BBC has also become a laquay of American propaganda. How long before UK is annexed by the Land of the Non-Free?
  • Bunner case (Score:5, Informative)

    by Markus Registrada (642224) on Monday December 22, 2003 @12:10PM (#7786514)
    This result bears on the Andrew Bunner trade-secret case in California. That court found that since the trade secret was (supposedly) illegally obtained, Andrew Bunner and several hundred "John Does" had acted improperly in posting it.

    At the trial the question came up whether in fact the reverse engineering involved was legal under Norwegian law. They called for opinions from Norwegian lawyers. The plaintiff trotted out a tame lawyer who asserted (without any support) that it was not legal. The defendant's lawyer said nothing in Norwegian law or case law supported any opinion one way or the other. The judge took that to mean that in fact it wasn't legal.

    Now that it's established that in fact it was legal, Bunner et al. should be able to have the decision vacated. (Shame on that judge.)

  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by pclminion (145572) on Monday December 22, 2003 @01:36PM (#7787286)
    Wow, I really wish I could live in a country where it's impossible to sleep at night, due to fear of a prosecuter dragging me back into court over an offense I'd already been acquitted of.

    What a bastion of individual freedom you've got over there.

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:55PM (#7788964) Homepage
    "a panel of three professional judges backed up by four lay judges, two of whom had technical expertise relevant to the case."

    In the USA, cases like this end up before our Supreme Court -- 7 judges, none of whom has any technical expertise whatsoever, and who are appointed for life by whichever political regime is in power when one of them dies.

    No wonder our tech laws favor owners at the expense of innovators.
  • by xchino (591175) on Monday December 22, 2003 @07:42PM (#7790545)
    I'm sure I'll be going to Karma Hell for posting this, but I have seen alot of UserID's I respected around here turn complete hippocrits in regards to what this guy is doing. In articles about his iTunes DRM cracking efforts, I see people saying things such as "We finally get something we like and this guy tries to ruin it!" What difference does it make if he's writing software to watch DVD's or writing software to listen to music? Just because you hate the MPAA and love Apple? In articles about DeCSS you hear a great deal of argument based of Freedom of Speech and consumers right to Fair Use, but somehow these rights do not apply to aything we support, such as iTunes.

    I like iTunes a great deal. I'd hate to see them make it any more difficult for me to get the same level of service I'm getting now. However, if they changed their policy to circumvent his efforts, I would blame Apple, not this guy for making use of his rights.

    I've even heard peple claim, "Apple DRM is easy enough to get around, just burn a CD and a re-rip in whatever format!" I doubt these same people would accept the same excuse from the MPAA "CSS is already easy enough to get around, just burn it to DVD and rip it!" Why in the hell should I have to burn it to CD? That's wasting my money, time, and resources on a completely unecessary step, not to mention that I may not have a CD burner to begin with. I guess I should just be screwed over in that instance, as long as the majority of users are happy.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.

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