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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 GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:12AM (#2816353)
    .. and even though IANAL, I think the whole thing is pretty weak. He seems to be charged with paragraphs mostly used for cracking computers.

    The norwegian article states that the same laws were used to prosecute people cracking TV-coding so that they could watch TV-signals without paying. The norwegian supreme court concluded that those paragraphs could not be used to punish this incident.

    The weakest part to me seems to be the prosecutors words on buying a DVD:
    "When you buy a DVD, you buy the right to view it, but not to copy it".
    This is blatantly false, as people in Norway also have fair use rights to their purchases.

    I was actually a bit shocked to see that he was prosecuted. I would understand it under the DMCA, but Norway does not have these kind of laws.
  • Re:This is great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by M_Talon ( 135587 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:20AM (#2816415) Homepage
    "Hey you, come over here. I've been watching your for 2 hours, and I'm not sure if picking your nose is illegal, but let's see if the courts think that is obscene" (yeah, bad analogy)

    I don't think that's a bad analogy. That's just about what's happening with the copyright vs. fair use issues in America and apparently the world. The real problem is that too many times the person under indictment doesn't have the same financial (and thus legal) power to prove the law is flawed as say a mega corporation who has near endless resources to "prove" the law is correct.

    To extend your analogy, you've been arrested because nose-picking is obscene, but AOL-Time Warner helped put that law into place and they can spend $15 million on lawyers and lobbying to make sure the law is proved right. You can't afford that much, so you're already fighting on a non-level field. Most likely, you'll settle for a small fine or sentence, and now the law has been "proven" to work...even though no good argument against it has been presented in court.

    And that, my fellow /.ers, is the real obscenity.
  • Re:What the hell.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smileyy ( 11535 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:24AM (#2816430)
    When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it on players approved by the people who made the disc.

    Under the DMCA this is true. The question is whether this will hold up under existing copyright laws.

    Your cable descrambler analogy is invalid, as in that case, the "pirate" has not paid for the content. In the DVD case, the user *has* paid for the content, and, (wholly IMO) has a right to use that content for personal use in whatever way they see fit.

  • Re:This is great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:27AM (#2816458) Homepage
    a better analogy:

    "Hey you, come over here. I've been watching your for 2 hours, and I'm not sure if picking your nose is illegal, but since it's illegal in Bigcountryia and they feel offended by it, you'll be charged with obscenity. Come now..."
  • Re:What the hell.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pmc ( 40532 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:32AM (#2816486) Homepage
    I'm bored, so I'll bite. I'll stop at your first error.

    When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it...

    When you purchase a DVD then you can do anything you want with it - except distribute copies of it. Manufacturers may try to contrain your use to uses that they approve of, but none of these are enforcable.

    Your argument falls to bits after this cornerstone is removed.

    3/10 - Must Try Harder.
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:35AM (#2816501) Homepage Journal

    When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it on players approved by the people who made the disc.

    Nowhere on the packaging does it say this. There isn't any indication, prior to the sale, that the usage of the DVD is so unusually restricted.

    Just as when I purchase a book, I am not just paying for the ability to read it by the light of some particular manufacturer's lamp.

    When you buy something, you're paying for what you expect. Sometimes when you buy something, there is a detailed contract that actually spells it out explicitly. In the case of most "consumer" things, it is not explicitly spelled out, and it's just common sense.

    Also, keep in mind that when DIVX was still around, people who promoted DVDs said that one of the advantages of DVD over DIVX was that DVD was a real standard. Calling something a standard has huge implications about what you can do with it. Now that DIVX is dead, they're trying to take back what they said? Sorry, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want the larger marketshare and competitive advantages that come with adhering to a standard, then you accept that your product will be used in a manner where it interoperates with other parties that you have no relationship with. You can't have standards and monopolies at the same time. It is too late for MPAA or DVDCCA or whoever it is, to redefine what the customer's expectations are. That would be fraud.

  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:39AM (#2816535) Homepage Journal
    But the access was authorized. He bought the DVD. There is no law I am aware of that says you can't minutley examine your own possessions.
  • by /ASCII ( 86998 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:44AM (#2816573) Homepage
    Yeah, we europeans are all alike. All europeans where Nazis during WWII, and you americans kicked all of our collective asses. Alone. The american way.

    The swedish minister of commerce referred to Norway as 'The last soviet state' last year. This was obviously not true, and a really stupid thing to say, but the point is that there is a large gap between the politics of different european countries.
  • Not only that... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:47AM (#2816593)
    But what about the ", and cause damage by gaining or using such unwarrented knowledge" bit? It's not illegal to break in, it's illegal to break in and cause damage.

    Not only that, but unwarranted knowledge is the kicker - it says that you can't break in to something you don't have the rights to

    Since you've already purchased the DVD, you have the rights to view it.

    The previous posts about this being applied to TV descramblers makes sense - you don't have the right to view the scambled signal, because you haven't subscribed.. but since you can already legally view (you have "warranted knowledge") the disc, the whole thing goes out the window.
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:56AM (#2816637)
    "Lets not forget that they dont write anything about norwegian laws ala. 'fair use' in the US. They might not have the right to copy a dvd, and only view it. Depends on the norwegian laws. "

    Actually I made a point out of mentioning that we DO. I am norwegian, and we certainly do have fair use rights. Copying for backups (or similiar) is perfectly legal.
  • Re:What the hell.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genom ( 3868 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:57AM (#2816639)
    When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it

    When I purchase a DVD, I'm paying for a plastic or cardboard clamshell-style box, (with accompanying boxart, liner notes, etc...) containing a DVD disc - a physical object - that contains data which, under the right circumstances, can be converted to a viewable picture and accompanying sound.

    If I only wanted to purchase the right to watch the movie, I'd go to a theatre, use Pay-Per-View, or go rent the movie.

    Purchasing the DVD allows me to own a physical object, in the same way that purchasing a hammer, book, or notebook computer allows me to own a physical object.

    If I want to use that hammer to pound nails, I can. I don't have to buy a specific brand of nails, or buy them from a specific store. I can buy any nails I want, from wherever I want, and pound them with the hammer. I can even forego the nails alltogether, and use the hammer in a manner that doesn't involve pounding anything, if I can find a use for it. I own the object.

    If I want to read the book, I can. If I want to photocopy or transcribe parts of it for use in a review, educational work, etc... I can. I can even rip out all the pages of the book and use them as toilet paper if I want. I can burn all the pages of the book (as long as the resultant fire doesn't set the house alight, of course) as kindling to start a fire in the fireplace. I can put the book under a table leg to even out a wobbly table. I can make photocopies of the pages, and plaster my walls with them if I so desire. I can run the pages of the book through OCR software and a text-to-speech program to listen to it (I might be blind) I own the object.

    I can disassemble the notebook computer (voiding the warranty, most likely) and put it's parts back together into a completely different machine - or mix and match parts to build a better machine. I can install any software or operating system I want. I own the object.

    Yet, the argument with DVDs is that you're ot buying the object, that you're instead licensing the content on the disc. What a load of bullshit. I see no "licensing agreement" plastered on the outside of the clamshell case. Yet, if I legally purchase a notebook computer with a DVD drive (blessed by the DVD-CCA, as it's illegal to sell one that isn't) and legally purchase a DVD, unless I'm also running a blessed PLAYER, I can't play it? Bull.

    In addition, if you buy a DVD player, you can (generally) only buy DVDs in the same country as the player. Unlike the hammer, where you could buy your nails in Urugway, China, or England, and still use them, with DVDs, your'e forced to only buy from the country you bought the player in. They do this so they can charge different prices in different areas of the world. This is also called price fixing, and is VERY illegal - yet because the DVD consortium is a giant monied cartel, they are able to simply buy their way around these international laws that would normally prohibit such actions.
  • by Paul the Bold ( 264588 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:04PM (#2816686)
    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.

    Do you have some evidence of this? Some data? I could claim that Americans use guns to protect their homes, but most often guns are used to kill people. Is this because we always hear about it when somebody is murdered, but rarely hear about it when somebody repels a burgler by threatening with a gun?

    I can tell you that 100% of the people I know who use LINUX and own a DVD drive do not copy DVDs.

    The point is that you should not make these unproven claims. It strengthens the case of those who want to steal our fair use rights.

  • Ho hum. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:07PM (#2816708) Homepage Journal
    Let's start with some basic maths:

    Insanity x Insanity = Insanity. This proves that insanity is the identity element.

    Having got that out the way, let's look at that quote from the lawyer a bit closer. "You buy the rights to watch the movie, not to copy it."

    Pardon me for not being able to directly teleport the digital signal off the DVD, descramble it in my brain, and view it without the aid of any mechanical device. For, surely, should you require a mechanical device to view the DVD, then you must have two copies at the time of viewing. One on the DVD, and one generated by the device used for viewing.

    Conclusion: To have the right to view a DVD IS to have a limited right to copy the DVD, as many times as you like, so long as the copies are transient, and exist only for the duration of viewing the DVD. (If you want to be absolutely merciless, you could argue that they can only exist for the duration of viewing a frame. But the duration WILL be non-zero, no matter how short you require it to be.)

    So long as DeCSS does not, in and of itself, produce permanent or semi-permanent copies, but rather produces a stream of transient images, then it is not a copying device. It is a viewing device. To produce a copy, you must produce a means of creating a more permanent rendering.

    This reminds me of a "hacking" case in England, back in the 1980's. Someone broke into Prince Philip's private e-mail account. He was accused of counterfeiting the "key", as I recall, as there was no law specifically against computer cracking at the time. The prosecution argued that typing in a password constituted posessing and using a pick-lock, which was illegal.

    The defence argued that the password never actually resided on the alleged system cracker's computer, and therefore posession never occured. (Yes, they accepted, the password was -temporarily- there, but that an instantaneous existance did not qualify as residing.) If there was no posession, then the alleged cracker could not be guilty of the exact crime as charged. They then argued that the courts were there to judge the offence, as stated, not to decide the morality of the defendent.

    Again, as I recall, the defence won, and a whole slew of new laws were rapidly drawin up, in an attempt to fix the mess. (The "Computer Misuse Act" dates from around this time, along with the "Data Protection Act".)

    The same logic would seem to apply to Jon Johansen's case. The courts aren't there to decide if DeCSS is moral or immoral. They are there to decide if it constitutes, in this case, unauthorized access to, or unauthorized use of a computer, through the process of unauthorized duplication.

    The parallels seem clear to me. DeCSS doesn't posess any copies, for the same reason. Each block of data exists instantaneously, and therefore actual posession does not occur. If no copy exists, in a legal sense, then no duplication has occured. If there is no duplication, then there is no unauthorized use - at least, in terms of what is charged. It is irrelevent, for any legal purposes, whether the use was authorized or not for anything other than what is charged. The charge is the sole concern. (At least in theory.)

    Once you go down this path, you can see that the case almost has to collapse, if Jon can get a decent lawyer. Whatever your personal belief, with regards to DeCSS, whether you believe it is right, wrong or indifferent, your beliefs really are irrelevent to what the courts decide. The judge has one decision to make, and one alone: Does the law fit the facts? Yes or no. No twisting, no modifying, no reading between the lines, no adding stuff. If the answer is no, and I can't see how it could be anything else, then Jon Johannsen is innocent of the charge.

    (Personally, I think he's innocent, without qualifiers, that DeCSS is a perfectly legitamate piece of software, and that lobby groups in the US are abusing their power to manipulate overseas authorities. I also think that those lobby groups should be brought to justice for such abuses of power. However, that's another matter altogether, as that's not the matter before the Norwegian courts. Although, I suspect that if such abuses were mentioned and proved by the defence, the judge would be unlikely to be sympathetic to the plaintif. Judges don't usually like being pawns. Especially in public.)

  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:09PM (#2816720) Homepage
    You missed step three.

    After decryption is broken, get in bed with Microsoft. Have Microsoft patent the use of trusted RAM and trusted operating systems (already done) so that only Microsoft and its licensees (MacOS) will be able to play encrypted movies. The next generation of encryption will include decryption devices in the playback hardware - the monitors, and the speakers. These will become industry defaults, and will apply not only to movies by the MPAA, but also to streamed media delivered via the Internet (which is then rendered uncopyable, principally because it cannot even be played on an open source OS). Hardware makers go along because all computer users have to upgrade again, and unless you can force another upgrade cycle, everyone already has a computer powerful enough to do what they use it for.

    Microsoft and MacOS thus become the only viable operating systems for playing movies, music, and streamed media via the internet (which can then be sold viably because it cannot be copied). Think I am kidding - come back in two years when this is happening.

    As for Johansen, the MPAA is simply making him suffer a little. They want nothing more than to prevent anyone else from becoming a Jon Johansen. So, they dug for months to find any law that could be used to even indict him. This will not be the end, either, I suspect civil charges will be next. The MPAA is protecting the crown jewels, the IP law it bought from Congress, and it has a LOT of value at stake.
  • The article earlier mentioned has a quote from one of the people working in the norwegian cs community;

    "DVD-Jon won his case in the USA, so its kind of strange that they're starting this here in Norway now. It may be because they want to `put him out there` to scare other people off."

    In another article at [] there's a quote from "Økokrim" (which is handling the prosecution).

    "We want a conviction / judgement"

    which may indicate what someone else hinted; that they want a clearification of the law. To quote the indictment (if i got that one right. :); he being prosecuted:

    "for breaking a protection or in other ways unauthorized gaining access to data / information stored or transmitted with electronic or other technical means and for having caused damage by acquisition or by use of such unwarranted knowledge."

    I'd think to get an conviction in this case, they'll have to prove the fact that he produced (as he said it himself) the GUI for the program - and that this in fact has caused a loss for the movie-industry.

    There's a also a quote in the same article from "Jon Bing", which is one of the better known sci-fi writers (well, we really dont have that many) and computer-philosophers in Norway, where he's wondering if they really have anything to convict Jon by. We'll see.

    As others also has pointed out, the norwegian "Økokrim" has had several examples of bad judgement the last week, especially the part of making anonymous email illegal, since they discovered that childpr0nrings has been using this as an method. [irony] I'd also suggest making photographic film illegal, since this is what makes it possible. In addition i'd render all sorts of digital cameras unlawful .. and you'd probably get 10-15 years in prison for owning a handycam or DV-cam.[/irony]

    Hopefully they'll come to common sense and "discover" that he's not guilty. At least not according to the law he's being charged with.
  • Re:What the hell.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:25PM (#2816863)
    When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it on players approved by the people who made the disc.

    If that's true, and I subsequently damage the physical DVD in a way that's no-one's fault but my own, I should be able to get a replacement from the publisher for no more than the cost of the media, duplication and shipping. The fact that this isn't the case suggests that there's little legal precedent for your point.

    Obviously, accidental damage may be covered by insurance, and a faulty DVD has to be replaced for no extra charge because it's not fit for the purpose for which it was sold.

    The argument that you're paying for the right to listen to a piece of music too falls apart, because if that's what you'd bought, then everyone should have been able to upgrade from vinyl to CD for cost of media and distribution. That wasn't the case either.

    So, the media conglomerates are trying to have their cake and eat it, selling you a piece of commodity property and a contractual obligation in one go. The free market is in the process of solving this by disintermediating them. It will just take a while to get the technology out there for musicians and fans to interact directly.
  • by Mr. Fred Smoothie ( 302446 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:44PM (#2817007)
    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.
    Boy you're right.

    Also, look how guns are being used: vember/111298.htm [] [] n_news/ [] 4.html [] .shtml []

    <sarcasm>Looks like it's time to go after those gun manufacturers. After all, their products are clearly being used to break the law with disastrous results for society.</sarcasm>

    In our society, people are supposed to be held responsible for their *own* misdeeds, NOT the potential misdeeds of others. That was the heart of the Betamax decision, and it seems like the same standard should be applied here. DeCSS is not required for copying, and can be used for significant non-infringing purposes. PERIOD!

  • Re:What the hell.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wurp ( 51446 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:47PM (#2817026) Homepage
    You are arguing about what is legal, with the tacit assumption that what is legal is right. This is not the case. It is our obligation to try to ensure that what is right is legal. If something that is wrong is legally mandated, or if something that is right is illegal, it is our obligation to break the law.

    As an extreme case, I would imagine that one was legally obligated to turn in your Jewish neighbors in Nazi Germany. It doesn't take too much thought to recognize the fallacy of confusing morality with legality in this instance.

    There are rules that are good for everyone if everyone follows them, but it's beneficial for the individual to break them. Everyone benefits if there is some entity there to enforce everyone behaving that way. That's what government is for. Anything that the government does beyond that is tyranny, and don't let them fool you into thinking that legality == morality. We give great power to the government, and if they can trick you into thinking that anything they use it for is by definition right, they will abuse it hideously.

    So, to bring this back on-topic: Decide for yourself if it is beneficial for everyone overall to allow decrypting DVDs. Then try to make the government do what's right. Personally, I think that restricting reverse engineering, restricting people from reporting security flaws, and the lot of other restrictions that come with the DMCA is tragically imbalanced with the 'benefit' that it theoretically gives (helping put our money in the pockets of some already filthy-rich media executives).
  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:50PM (#2817049) Homepage
    If this thinly veiled lawsuit wins, I'm chucking my computer into the nearest river and going total Luddite. I'd much rather face a daily stuggle for survival than a daily struggle for my basic freedoms.

    The point is not to win. The MPAA would probably like to win because it would send a stronger message, but the real point is making Johansen's life a living hell so that no sane person wants to be the next Jon Johansen. The MPAA feels threatened in its ability to use IP laws to protect its copyrights - its crown jewels. It has billions of dollars at stake, and the payment to its lawyers to make JJ suffer will easily be worth it if the next hacker thinks long and hard before making decryption software publicly available.

    This is also why this criminal case is not the end. The civil cases come next, because no amount of suffering is enough for the goals of the MPAA.
  • Remember Folks: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @06:52PM (#2820071) Journal
    Breaking stupid laws that restrict your rights and are created by evil corporate pigs' bribery is OK, just don't, what ever you do, give them your name, or go to america :)

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost