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Danish DRM Breaker Turns Himself In To Test Backup Law 466

Posted by timothy
from the impure-impurity-and-impureness dept.
coaxial writes "In Denmark, it's legal to make copies of commercial videos for backup or other private purposes. It's also illegal to break the DRM that restricts copying of DVDs. Deciding to find out which law mattered, Henrik Anderson reported himself for 100 violations of the DRM-breaking law (he ripped his DVD collection to his computer) and demanded that the Danish anti-piracy Antipiratgruppen do something about it. They promised him a response, then didn't respond. So now he's reporting himself to the police. He wants a trial, so that the legality of the DRM-breaking law can be tested in court."
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Danish DRM Breaker Turns Himself In To Test Backup Law

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  • this is brave (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrvan (973822) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:55PM (#30301184)

    This is really brave. Not just rant about how stupid a law is, or how unenforceable, and then just break it. But break it, deliberately turn yourself in, and show how stupid/unenforceable the law is.

    From an egoistic short-term perspective this is probably seen as just stupid, but this is the way to actually enact some changes.

    Bravo!

    • Re:this is brave (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:01PM (#30301284) Journal

      I'd wager my left toe that absolutely nothing comes of it. The police aren't going to want to deal with it, and media companies and their government whores don't want that kind of a test case.

      • Re:this is brave (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dintlu (1171159) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:06PM (#30301386)

        Is selective enforcement of a law an effective defense against that law's application against an individual, in Denmark?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by OzPeter (195038)

          Taking this sort of totally off-topic thats one argument I'd love to use in the USA against speeding tickets. If you are on a freeway in Virginia then the cops won't pull you over unless you are doing more than about 15 mph over the limit (ie 80 in a 65 zone) , but they ticket you for the speed above the posted limit. I'd love to argue that the effective speed limit is at the point where they consider it worthwhile to come after you and not the posted limit. Thus you should be ticketed for the speed abov

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mhajicek (1582795)
            While in principle it SHOULD work, in reality they just laugh at you and hand you your ticket. Take it to trial and only one thing matters. "Sir, were you speeding?" "Yes, but..." "You can pay your fine to the clerk on your way out. Next!"
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Golddess (1361003)

              Take it to trial and only one thing matters. "Sir, were you speeding?" "Yes, but..." "You can pay your fine to the clerk on your way out. Next!"

              Spoken like someone who's never been in a courtroom for a traffic violation.

              Of course, my experience has been rather limited, but there were always 3 ways that you can plead: not guilty, guilty, and guilty with an explanation.

              Also, judges tend to take into account your previous driving record for things like a Probation Before Judgment, where basically the ticket is thrown out (though there are still court fees). I've also witnessed a judge mark down a speeding ticket exactly like GP stated, though not

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by meerling (1487879)
            Often there is an unspecified leeway to account for unavoidable imprecision because we are all just human, and even our machines aren't 100% accurate.

            Don't forget that traffic isn't a steady state situation, it's a dynamic one.

            My uncle got pulled over for being 10mph over the limit when he thought he was going the correct speed. The cop didn't ticket him, but pointed out that his obviously new tires weren't the same diameter as the factory ones. Then told him to get his odometer recalibrated for the new tir
            • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:46PM (#30302062) Journal

              My uncle got pulled over for being 10mph over the limit when he thought he was going the correct speed. The cop didn't ticket him, but pointed out that his obviously new tires weren't the same diameter as the factory ones. Then told him to get his odometer recalibrated for the new tires. Seems your speedometer and odometer are directly linked to the number of rotations of tires of a specific diameter, change that and they read the wrong values. That's just one example where violations occur because of stuff you don't know about. It happens to cops too.

              Where the hell did this happen? Around here, that sort of knowledge would result in the cops making deals with the auto shops to sell people bigger tires!

            • Re:this is brave (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:47PM (#30302090)

              You didn't know that? That's why cops don't usually pull you over if you're less than 10 mph under the speed limit. That's within the margin of error of a potentially wrong tire size and errors with the speed gun.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jonbryce (703250)

            If they caught you doing 66, you might argue successfully that their speed measuring device wasn't that accurate and you might actually be doing 64 mph. Also, it doesn't make for good press. At 80+ mph, you can't really argue.

            In Britain, the threshold is 10% + 2 mph above the limit for those reasons.

        • Can you argue that you shouldn't pay your speeding ticket because not everyone who was speeding got a speeding ticket?

          Law enforcement has the discretion not to arrest and charge and prosecutors have the discretion not to prosecute.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            You shouldn't not pay your speeding ticket because not everyone who was speeding got a ticket, but if there were a law on the books that granted you the right to speed (hey, we are talking hypotheticals here), it would be worth putting the law to the test, as the two laws are mutually exclusive.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by scubamage (727538)
            To an extent. The discretion not to arrest/prosecute is solely dependent on whether or not the case has a complainant usually, and how much they're willing to complain. IE: You can smoke pot in your apartment alone and if no neighbors care, then you're fine. If they call the cops, they've officially filed a complaint against you and the officers have to do something, even if its just showing up and shrugging. Same thing here: he's officially filed a complaint against himself so if their commonlaw system is
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        In the U.S., most prosecutors would simply issue something like a "decline to prosecute" letter (i.e. "We think you did something, but we are declining to prosecute"), which wouldn't set any precedent or really help anyone else.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:47PM (#30304390) Journal

        I'd wager my left toe that absolutely nothing comes of it.

        Which left toe? Or have you lost similar wagers so many times that you have only one left toe left?

    • by Jherico (39763)
      Except that as worded in the summary, the laws don't actually conflict. A law that gives you the right to make backups of a medium for private use doesn't necessarily guarantee you that right. A law that prohibits breaking of DRM would still apply. The only thing the other law does is ensure that he can't be prosecuted on two counts (breaking DRM AND duplicating copyrighted materials) instead of one.
      • Re:this is brave (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:10PM (#30301450)
        Having the right to do something and being forbidden from doing the actions most commonly followed to accomplish this thing are in direct conflict. changing the DRM law to require some further infraction to be applicable would do a lot to resolve this conflict.
        • Re:this is brave (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jherico (39763) <bdavis@sai[ ]ndreas.org ['nta' in gap]> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:02PM (#30302432) Homepage
          You're still missing the point. The right to make backups is actually no such thing. Its actually the right not to be prosecuted for violating copyright for making backups. It doesn't confer any other kind of immunity, even if it seems nonsensical. The law isn't required to be rational.

          Consider, what if the only way to make a copy of a DVD was to shoot someone. The right to not be prosecuted for copyright violation doesn't mean you're not going to get prosecuted for assault, manslaughter, what have you.

          The law in question protecting creation of copies is almost certainly a simple exemption in copyright law. Unless someone can show me the law says something along the lines of 'you cannot be prosecuted for any action taken in the course of making a duplicate for personal purposes' then the laws are not in conflict no matter how much you would like them to be.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Not necessarily. It's already pretty well accepted that you can only exercise a right so long as it doesn't conflict with other laws. Combinations of actions can preclude one right. For example in the US I have the right to bare arms. I have the right to enter a post office as well. However, I cannot bare arms while entering a post office.

        Similarly, you might have the right to make a backup copy for archival purposes, but only so long as no other law is broken. If you have to crack DRM to make it then

        • by SDF-7 (556604) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:31PM (#30301812)

          No, I'm fairly certain no one will care if you take your jacket off and have short sleeves in the post office.

          Baring much else will get you in trouble, of course.

          And before anyone else asks -- no, you shouldn't arm bears in the post office either.

      • Re:this is brave (Score:5, Informative)

        by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:31PM (#30301804) Journal

        I know this is hard, but sometimes you have to read the article. ;) Apparently, Danish law gives the individual the right to make a non-commercial backup for personal use. That isn't a law saying you may do something, it's saying you have a right to do so. In which case DRM infringes on that right.
      • Law wording (Score:4, Informative)

        by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:38PM (#30305172) Homepage

        I don't know how the law is worded in Denmark, but in Switzerland you're explicitly allowed to break DRM if it stands in your way to exercices "fair-use" copies according to the copyright law.

        The Denmark law wording could be explicit (as in Switzerland) or not clear enough (so you can't exclude that DRM breaking has to occur in order to exercice "fair-use"), so the whole test case might make sense, in order to create jurisprudence that DRM can legally be broken in order to create legal copies.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I agree it's brave. It's a bit like calling the FDA to make sure your restaurant is clean enough.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pauljlucas (529435)

        It's a bit like calling the FDA to make sure your restaurant is clean enough.

        The FDA has nothing to do with restaurant inspections. That's handled by county-level health departments.

    • by jandrese (485)
      In the US this case would be easy, he would just be charged $20,000,000 per DVD as per corporate wishes.
  • Kudos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:56PM (#30301204)
    Civil disobedience done right. The world would be a better place if more of us (and I'm specifically pointing to empty-nest geezers like that one in the mirror) had the cojones to do similarly rather than constantly bitching.
    • I agree in theory; and for Denmark this might be a good strategic move, but facing the digital inquisition is far more risky here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Zibben (1451167)
        Why did I suddenly get an immage of John Cleese running into the room in a robot costume screaming "Nobody expects the Digital Inquisition!!" Need more coffee.
    • Re:Kudos (Score:5, Informative)

      by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:05PM (#30301360) Homepage Journal

      I don't know what the repercussions are in Denmark but here in the US when you see FBI warnings before a movie stating you'll be fined $150,000 and 10 years in a PMITA prison... I'd rather just keep my mouth shut and let someone who actually got caught challenge the system.

      • by belthize (990217)

        It's just a ruse. I've ripped the little label off of every mattress I've ever owned and they never once filed charges.

        • It's just a ruse. I've ripped the little label off of every mattress I've ever owned and they never once filed charges.

          All the label says is that nobody other than the consumer can remove the label. So whilst the manufacturers and retailers can't remove the label (primarily because the label tells you what materials are used, etc,) it does not limit the rights of the consumer.

        • Re:Kudos (Score:5, Interesting)

          by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:24PM (#30301666) Journal

          What's sad is how that act can terrify others around you. I carried out the similar but actually real behaviour of cutting the stupid labels attached to the leads of some new keyboards at a place I worked - I refuse to believe that any of us need to be instructed by it to read the three paragraphs of safety information on the bottom of the keyboard. One of my staff was horrified and thought that it might be breaking the rules.

          I tell you this: A society that is afraid to cut labels off keyboards is fucked. Oh, and good luck to the Danish guy. I bet he's not afraid to tear labels off things.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I bet he's not afraid to tear labels off things.

            Ever read one? Ever read WHO is forbidden from delabeling it?

            Know why those labels are there in the first place? That's right. Because some consumer somewhere probably sued the company because he didn't know mattresses were heavy or that you shouldn't eat your keyboard or something stupid like that... :)

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Know why those labels are there in the first place? That's right. Because some consumer somewhere probably sued the company because he didn't know mattresses were heavy or that you shouldn't eat your keyboard or something stupid like that... :)

              You couldn't be further from the truth and the fact you automatically assume that those labels are unnecessary and the result of a frivolous lawsuit is a sign of just how gullible our society has become. Those labels [wikipedia.org] are there so that the person selling the mattres

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by electricprof (1410233)
      In the US we tend to face draconian damage awards if found guilty of even ridiculously small amount of infringement. So, we may have to have somebody successfully challenge the size of the damages before challenging legality. Does anybody know the difference in damage award size in Denmark and the US?
  • I'm guessing that the law there is similar to the US in which you really can't do much about a law until it actually impacts you. I'm not sure I'm happy with that situation, in that some poor soul (or souls) has to effectively be martyred before the 'protections' kick in.

    Or is this case simply one of two laws which contradict each other?

  • Won't Loving Work. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:05PM (#30301364)

    He's just going to be slapped with an unreasonable fine he can't pay and then he will have to file for bankruptcy or some such thing. Courts are fine with giving out unreasonable fines because "hey, at least it's not jail time." However, fines can make it impossible for you to pay your bills, even if you are allowed to pay them off over a period of time.

    • by NevarMore (248971) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:12PM (#30301488) Homepage Journal

      Except he's in Denmark. I can't comment specifically but many European nations have sliding scale fines.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:23PM (#30301646)

        Being from scandinavia (not Denmark though, but laws are likely quite similar), I can say that I would be really surprised if the fine was any more than a couple of thousand euros. Fines/damages here are meant to be payable and any unreasonable fines/damage will be cut down to a level that's feasible payable for the person in question. That's one of the things you learn in the introductory law courses here.

      • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:37PM (#30301910)
        We need that in America. It is completely absurd that if Bill Gates and I committed the same criminal offense, we would incur the same fine. Bill would pull the money out of his wallet in much the same manner that I buy a pack of gum and go about his day, whereas I would be financially devastated. In this case, while the actual dollar amount of the fines were equal, the punishment absolutely was not. The fine should be adjusted so that the punishment is equal in both cases -- it is completely absurd that this is not the case already.
    • Or more likely, the prosecutor's office will just ignore him.

      Typically the solution that requires the least effort is the one that government bureaucrats will choose.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:29PM (#30301760) Homepage

      Dude, this is Scandinavia. We don't award insane damages here, in fact we generally give way too little IMO. People that have had their lives completely ruined, like 20 years innocent in prison get less than a million dollars. Murderers are often only required to pay 100-200k$ in damages. That is one of the reasons the TPB case became such a big deal in Sweden, for Americans a little over 4 million dollars is not that unusual, around here it's unheard of. There was for example here in Norway just recently about a 16 year old who got the biggest insurance payout ever after a traffic accident - 11.6 MNOK = 2.08 million USD. Still not much when he's probably got another 60 years to live and will need special care for the rest of his life.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Meneguzzi (935620)
        But on the flipside, in Scandinavia (and most of Europe) if you need a hospital or support for some physical limitation, you won't have to pay through your nose to get it, as this is seen as a basic human right. In the US, if you need constant medical attention and you don't have a steady revenue stream (or a big hoard of cash) you are pretty much screwed.
        • "if you need a hospital or support for some physical limitation, you won't have to pay through your nose to get it, as this is seen as a basic human right"

          Medical but not food as a basic right is amusing; same goes for breathing, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion.

          Only after you take care of these physiological needs do you get to the next tier of Maslow's hierarchy of needs:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs [wikipedia.org]

          where "health" is located... and that'

    • by Delwin (599872) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:48PM (#30302110)
      In the US bankruptcy cannot get rid of your student loans or any civil penalties. Huge civil penalties are actually worse than jail time because a few years in jail and you get out and have a chance to start over (barring Felonies which have other issues). Even life sentences usually have some possibility of parole. Huge civil penalties here and you are never going to have more than substance levels of money ever again.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:26PM (#30301704)
    His DVD collection consists of only 100 discs?!? How big is his collection of movies downloaded via bittorrent?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Phyrexicaid (1176935)
      That's what I'd be worried about. Swaggering in to test the law on the couple of items you *do* have, and they find all the music and movies you *don't* have legally. Whoops!
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:27PM (#30301730)

    He's not a whining sniveling cowardly hypocrite like the Pirate Bay defendants.

    This guy's putting it on the line. Does he have a defense fund that can be contributed to?

    • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu ... org minus distro> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:25PM (#30304014) Homepage

      If you read the comments to the article, you'll note a link to Henrik's home page, http://enfrustreretforbruger.dk/ [enfrustreretforbruger.dk] (which is in danish).

      If you click "Sådan støtter du op om digitale kopier" (how to support digital copies), you'll see a page telling you to click the paypal link on the right hand side (of his home page) to donate any amount "for the running of enfrustreretforbruger.dk".

      That would be an obvious way to support him. There may be laws against collecting money under a false pretence (A Time To Kill says there are such laws in the US, fwiw ^_^), so you may want to add a note to the paypal transfer saying "Hi. Here's some money for whatever purpose you like. You might want to spend them on lawyers etc." (although I suspect that if you give him money without saying that he can spend them for whatever he likes, you're the only one who can sue him for having taking your money under a false pretence. IANAL, TINLA, ask a ninja, etc.)

      The support page at http://enfrustreretforbruger.dk/home/?p=882 [enfrustreretforbruger.dk] also lists putting banners on your web page, reading his twitter feed, writing to the Danish ministry of culture ("minicult"? :D), and joining a project that Ekstra Bladet (a Danish tabloid news paper) is running where you can submit your own digital copying stories.

      You can also send him an email and ask how you might help. Click on the "kontakt" (contact) link in the upper-right corner.

      (I'm not going to post his email address here on slashdot since he'd get, well, slashdotted with mail. If you really want to get in touch with him, you can take the time to click a few links. Also, he posts his street address and phone number there, but encourages people to comment on his blog articles where relevant.)

      I hope this helps, and that Google Translate can get you the rest of the way.

  • by Errtu76 (776778) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:31PM (#30301796) Journal

    IANAL .. really

  • I do live in Denmark (Score:5, Informative)

    by nielsdybdahl (1027712) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:59PM (#30302372)
    I do live in Denmark. The danish copyright laws are based upon the copyright rules from the european union, that all member states have to implement in their national laws. One of these rules state that it is allowed to circumvent the copy protection schemes if it is necessary to use the media. That is probably intended to make it possible for Linux users to play DVDs, but in this case it might also be used because if the user has a PC without a DVD drive, then it is necessary to rip the DVD with a different PC. Another european rule states that temporary copies that are necessary for using the media are always allowed. Again in this case if the user has a PC without DVD-drive, then it is legal to store the DVD content on a harddrive (which is not a permanent copy).
  • by lanadapter (1587031) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:06PM (#30302510)
    How does he fit through his door with such massive balls?
  • WHAT? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kingrames (858416) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:44PM (#30303240)
    This Danish guy just... Turned himself in? My god, someone save him! Doesn't he know that cops EAT DANISHES?
  • by sammy baby (14909) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:59PM (#30303532) Journal

    "In Denmark, it's legal to make copies of commercial videos for backup or other private purposes. It's also illegal to break the DRM that restricts copying of DVDs. Deciding to find out which law mattered, Henrik Anderson reported himself for 100 violations of the DRM-breaking law (he ripped his DVD collection to his computer) and demanded that the Danish anti-piracy Antipiratgruppen do something about it. They promised him a response, then didn't respond. So now he's reporting himself to the police. He wants a trial, so that the legality of the DRM-breaking law can be tested in court."

    Something is awesome in the state of Denmark. And it's Anderson.

  • Were I him... (Score:3, Informative)

    by JerryLove (1158461) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:38AM (#30309952)

    I would have turned myself in for 1 instance, not 100.

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