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Jon Johansen Indicted by Norwegian Authorities 331

phlawed writes: "This story (norwegian) states that the authorities responsible for investigating economic crime in Norway today (after 2 years of "investigation") charged JLJ for violating a law regarding computer "break-ins", commonly known as the "hacker paragraph". This is for distributing the DeCSS sourcecode. The analysis so far (by media) is that the authorities not necessarily thinks JLJ is guilty, but due to unclear wording in the relevant law they seem to think that the courts should have a look at it... It is worth noting that JLJ has *not* been charged for violating any law regarding IP, piracy or such." I've only found one story in English, which is quite vague. Hopefully the above poster is correct in summarizing the situation.
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Jon Johansen Indicted by Norwegian Authorities

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  • by bodin ( 2097 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:08AM (#2816327) Homepage
    The norwegian version here [] is identical to the English one.

    The motivation is that Jan has broken the crypto. "When you buy the disc, you buy the rights to play the movie, not to copy it".

    They just don't get it. You have to be able to decode the data to play it.

    It has NOTHING to do with copying.
  • by hajejan ( 549838 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:09AM (#2816337) Homepage
    It might be worth noting that VG Nett has the same story here [].
  • by ( 89920 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#2816391) Homepage
    My translation of the Dagbladet (norwegian newspaper) article. Spelling and gramatical errors are mine, factual errors are those of Dagbladet and the norwegian Police.

    The 18 year only Jon Lech Johansen has been indicted for breaking the "computer trespasing" paragraph of the norwegian criminal code.

    Thursday January 10, 2002 14:02, updated 14:53.

    This is confirmed to NTB by attorney Inger Marie Sunde. Johansen has since January 2000 been charged by the norwegian financial crimes unit (Økokrim) after being reported by the american movie- and entertainment organization Movie Picture Association (MPA).

    The background is that Johansen in 1999 participated in creating a program, DeCSS, that make it possible to play back DVD movie under the Linux operating system, and made it available on the internet. The program can also be used to decrypt the content of DVD-disks and makes it possible to copy the movie.

    Johansen is indicted for participating in breaking the protection system Content Scrambling System (CSS), that protects the content of DVD-disks from copying.

    Johansen is indicted based on the criminal code paragraph 145, parts two and tree Sunde informs the NTB.

    From the inditement:

    "- For by breaking a protection scheme, of by similar activities unjustly having gained access to data stored of transmitted by electronic or other technical means and by having caused damage by gaining or using such unjustly obtained knowledge."

    The charged offense carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison.

  • Re:This is great (Score:2, Informative)

    by KenRH ( 265139 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:18AM (#2816396)
    He has not been arrested, under Norwegian law you go free until such time as the court has found you guilty, unless there can be shown a risk for him destroying evidence, repeat offence or trying to run away.
  • by Hater's Leaving, The ( 322238 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:18AM (#2816399)
    Add to that the fact that it wasn't even Jon (not Jan) that broke the crypto, he merely hosted the source code files. The actual reverse engineer who wrote the original code was allegendly German, and as far as I know to this day remains anonymous (though pseudonyms, and the name of the cracker group they belonged to are known).

    I was thinking that maybe I could pack up my "Got DeCSS" T-shirts for posterity just last week, but hell no. The world is still full of shite and nonsense, and _we_ are still a tiny minority.

  • by kaiidth ( 104315 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:23AM (#2816426)
    DeCSS isn't a trade secret any longer, according to this [] kuro5hin story from November, and also according to the story linked to from the Norwegian site... According to the EFF even the DVD CCA have stopped attempting to limit [] its distribution.

    Also, according to this [], the DVD CCA claimed at least once that reverse engineering the CSS code was 'in principal lawful', and that the illegal part of it was from the fact that the reverse engineering was done from a piece of software which required you to click through a contract that said you agreed not to do so.

    All of which makes me wonder why the Norwegians have decided to make a fuss about it now. Just when I thought we'd finally heard the last of CSS lawsuits.

    Added to which, I have no idea about the Norwegian law but surely the kid was a minor at the time? He's only 18 now! Maybe it's different in Norway but most countries seem to relax laws somewhat for children...?
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:26AM (#2816446) Homepage Journal
    It's not the same. He has been indicted in Norway, because they claim he has broken Norwegian law. Besides, there is no extradition treaty between Norway and the US, and Norwegian courts are in general careful about extraditing anyone to the US due to a general scepticism of the US court system.
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:42AM (#2816560) Homepage
    [note: this is not going to be a popular opinion, but, please, think before slapping]

    It has NOTHING to do with copying.
    Originally, you are correct. DeCSS was built to decode discs without using one of the proprietary (and unavailable) players.

    BUT, unfortunately, it has opened the door to DVD copyright infringement ("piracy"), like it or not.

    You don't have to go far to find DeCSS being used in "shady" ways: [] [] [] []
    .. I could go on.

    While it shouldn't be inherently illegal to decode and copy discs for legitimate purposes, that's not how DeCSS is being used, the majority of the time. It sucks, but it's true.

    To many people, it has EVERYTHING to do with copying (or decoding and re-encoding to other media, distributing, etc).
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:44AM (#2816570) Journal
    Guns don't kill people, the Government does :)
  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:44AM (#2816571) Homepage Journal
    As Jon Johansen put it himself in an old interview: -01-dvd-interview.html []

    Jon Johansen: I'm 16 now, I was 15 when it happened ... and the encryption code wasn't in fact written by me, but written by the German member. There seems to be a bit of confusion about that part.

    LinuxWorld: The other two people that you had worked with to make the player are remaining anonymous -- is that right?

    Jon Johansen: Yes, that is correct.


    LinuxWorld: Do you know why they want to remain anonymous?

    Jon Johansen: They are both a lot older than me, and they are employed. So I guess they just didn't want the publicity, and they were perhaps afraid of getting fired.

    He's a wonderfully plain-spoken person. My other favorite Jon Johansen quote is from when he was responding to reporter Declan McCullagh, and Declan was arrogantly giving Jon a hard time for not immediate returning Declan's request for comment:

    Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 21:26:23 +0100

    From: Jon Johansen (Micro Media ADB)
    Subject: [Livid-dev] Wired article on legal threats

    I assume you've read a great deal of articles on the subject? If you have, you might have noticed that I'm only 15 years old; which means I go to school. Norway is GMT+01. You should be able to figure out the time difference, and when I would be available for comment :)

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project ( []
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:45AM (#2816580)
    I know why "the Norwegians" have decided to make a fuss about it.

    It all comes down to parts of the prosecution and government in Norway, trying to be soooo concious about their "international responsibility".

    The Norwegian prosecutors have blindly followed the US without questioning if this is actually is even remotely illegal in Norway. Trying a case "just to see if it is illegal" is just BS.

    Electronic "shrink wrap"-contracts isn't even VALID in Norway. Not in the least, so this argument cannot even be used.

    The courts should just dismiss this case, and give a warning to the prosecutors that the next time they try a case without a clear notion that something illegal has happened, they would be in contempt (is that spelled correctly?) of the court.
  • by DagSverre ( 223837 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:03PM (#2816672) Homepage
    People showed up in the court when Skylarov was charged.

    Should the norwegians able to do so show up (say, with large banners with the DeCSS source code and the proper buttons and slogans) when the case is tried? Would it be a wise thing to do? And anyone with me?

    It also looks like (from NettAvisen) that the authorities are mostly after trying out the hacker paragraph and not necisarrily get him convicted...

    Lastly, I don't think it's been mentioned yet that MPAA is responsible for this...they hired the lawyer that convinced the authorities into charging him (according to

    - Dag Sverre, Bø i Telemark
  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:11PM (#2816739)

    I see no reason why a DVD copy program couldn't just do a bit-copy from one disk to another without breaking the crypto.

    Because consumer DVD writers will not burn them correctly. They will not burn the key sector of the DVD, which makes it unplayable in a DVD player. You have to decode the DVD and convert it to Divx to get something useable.

  • by alsta ( 9424 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:12PM (#2816744)
    Here goes my attempt at a translation, might not be very accurate mind you...:

    Economic Police has decided to seek indictment against Jon Johansen for breaking the Computer/Data Crime Law. Johansen has been indicted for breaking the copy protection on DVD-discs. The indictment is no surprise, says Jon Bing.

    For two years, the Economic Police has investigated the case gainst the young man[?]. Johansen is a member of a computer group which developed the computer program DeCSS. The program can be used to copy the contents of DVD-discs.

    American picture associations cite that Johansen has been part of a breach of copyright law. Economic Police has sought indictment against the 18 year old man[?] for breach against the Crime Law's[?] paragraph 145.2. jfr3.ledd. [?]

    Circumventing protection
    - We have indicted Johansen for having circumvented the copy protection on DVD-discs. He has willfully cracked the protective measures. When you buy a DVD-disc, you buy the right to play it, not copy it, attorney Inger Marie Sunde said.

    In January, two years ago, the police took action and searched the room of Johansen. Among other things they seized large portions of his computer equipment and the 18-year old's mobile telephone.

    The computer community has displayed creat concern that the, then, 16-year old became the target of the Economic Police. This lead to lots of collections of funds for a possible litigation on behalf of the boy. Attorney Cato Schiotz became involved as Johansens defender, but the case was taken over by Terje Svendsen with Schiotz law firm.

    - We would like to have gotten the investigation to end sooner, but it has taken lots of time now. There has been lots of data that needs analyzing and we have used that time with consideration to our resources, says Sunde.

    Natural to try the DVD case
    - It isn't a surprise that there is an indictment against Johansen under the Crime Law[?] paragraph 145. We thought we had a clear case with that law, but the High Court has created doubts. Thus it isn't strange that Economic Police wants to try the matter. It is not said that they want a conviction of Johansen, says a Law Professor, Jon Bing.

    - So Johansen is used as a legal precedent?

    - No, not like that. But it is an unclear situation and we want to be sure to get a resolution to it. The DVD case is a good case to try like that. It is not clear if what he has done is against the law, but I think it is proper to indict, says Bing to Nettavisen.

    Economic Police has not sought indictment against John Johansen for breaching the Descructive[??] Law and it was expected from several parties, said Bing, unsurprisedly.

    - No, I understand that well. If you open the door to a book store, you haven't distributed the books, said the law professor.

    In the Law text which laid ground for the idnictment it says "He who knows to break a protective device or by similar means knowingly obtains access to data or program equipment, stored or electronically transferred, or by other technical means. Causes damage by authoring[?] or use of similar knowledge, or breach by personal gains, can be imprisoned for up to 2 years. Accomplices are punished by similar means."

    Long wait
    Svendsen has previously said that the investigation has been a burden for the young man who was barely 16 years old when he became the suspect for the Economic Police.

    District Attorney Inger marie Sunde has for the past two years spoken to the press that the matter will soon reach conclusion. But no sooner than Thursday, Jan 10, almost two years to the day after Johansen was arrested, the Economic Police made public that they will seek indictment against him.

    The Criminal Law that Johansen is indicted under, has previously been tried twice in the Norwegian Justice System. That time it was about descrambling TV-channels from cable TV. The High Court concluded that time that the law could not be used to punish unlawful access to TV and radio signals.

    Economic Police says that because of the fact that one can't tell different types of data apart and this is because the law can be used to convict Johansen.

    - Data is data, Sunde said.

    The District Attorney says to Nettavisen that the indictment now is ready to be submitted to the court. That means the case against Jon Johansen probably will be tried during this year.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:46PM (#2817020)
    in norway you are legally considered an adult when you're 16
  • by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:56PM (#2817086)
    I find this remark very curious:

    "When you buy the disc, you buy the rights to play the movie, not to copy it"

    Curious because its technically correct, I'm not paying them a dime for the right to copy it, its already a right that I have. Its called "Fair Use".
  • by thelaw ( 100964 ) <spam.cerastes@org> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @02:31PM (#2817869) Homepage
    securityfocus [] has another english-language story on this, which can be found at [].

  • Re:Two Things (Score:2, Informative)

    by cecil36 ( 104730 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @02:39PM (#2817915) Homepage
    You could send off a donation to the EFF []. I'm not sure if the EFF will be able to set up a legal defense fund in Norway to assist DVD-Jon in his pending case. Regardless, the donation can always be used in case the MPAA and/or RIAA makes a bigger mess out of access control or copyright issues in the US.
  • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @03:18PM (#2818237) Homepage
    They (of course) don't want to ever lose control of their works. Their ideal world would be one with no public domain at all, no fair use, and every time you sang "Happy Birthday" you made a mircopayment.

    They're already getting that world. [] discusses a challenge to two copyright act amendments which effectively hose PD (namely, the Sonny Bono CTEA act and the URAA, which allows companies to retroactively reassign copyright to works already in the public domain). Predictably, the Crackdot editors were so busy hitting "reject" that they missed the submission. That or they didn't think it was important that PD works are being raped by media corporations.

    You touched upon the apparent real reason the MPAA is pushing so hard for these types of laws: they don't care if the work is copied, they just want to have absolute control over its distribution. It would be nice if the courts started looking more closely at region encoding.


  • by nordicfrost ( 118437 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @03:32PM (#2818348)
    Well, he did break the law. Me, I think Jon is a talentless semi-cracker that bragged about his efforts (He said first that he did the cracking, but later said the code was from a German guy and he only did the GUI and decrypting.

    here's the Norwegian law he broke:

    145. 1)Den som uberettiget bryter brev eller annet lukket skrift eller på liknende måte skaffer seg adgang til innholdet, eller baner seg adgang til en annens låste gjemmer, straffes med bøter eller med fengsel inntil 6 måneder.

    2)Det samme gjelder den som ved å bryte en beskyttelse eller på lignende måte uberettiget skaffer seg adgang til data eller programutrustning som er lagret eller som overføres ved elektroniske eller andre tekniske midler.

    3)Voldes skade ved erverv eller bruk av slik uberettiget kunnskap, eller er forbrytelsen forøvet i hensikt å skaffe noen en uberettiget vinning, kan fengsel inntil 2 år anvendes.

    4)Medvirkning straffes på samme måte.
    Offentlig påtale finner bare sted når allmenne hensyn krever det.

    What applies to this case is the second and fourth paragraph. The secon says that an attempt or breach of any security measure in a computer system or stored data is punishable. The fourth paragraph says that assisting to do this is equally punishable.

    OK, let's see how Jon can get out of this mess. If he has a decent lawyer, the third paragraph would come in to play. It says that damage has to occur before the law can punish him (With up to two years in jail) or it has to be a profitable crime . What damage has he done, exactly? Making more people able to watch DVDs? Hardly.

    Disclaimer: IAALS (I am a law student).

  • by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @04:19PM (#2818778)
    I've taken a DVD from the drawer. It's "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within", 2 DVDs. Original copy, of course.

    I am looking at the cover, and I can not see ANY mention of what I am allowed to do with the disc, or what I am not allowed to do with it, except notion that it can not be "reproduced, distributed or exibited".

    What the hell are all these people talking about, when they say "you purchase right to view, blah, blah..."!? I don't see ANYWHERE mention of anything even remotely related to that.

    btw: "Reproduction" would mean creating identical copy of a disc (medium). Why then decoding DVD content to hard disk is considered as 'reproduction'? :)

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake