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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 yggdrazil ( 261592 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:16AM (#2816380)
    A quick translation of the law in question: "To break a protection mechanism or otherwise getting unauthorized access to data which is stored or transmitted electronically or by other technical means, and cause damage by gaining or using such unwarranted knowledge." (Copied from story [] in Aftenposten in Norwegian.)

    Aftenposten also has a story [] in English.

    This is the exact same paragraph which is used to convict hackers in Norway.

    He might very well get convicted, I'm sad to say. He did break a protection mechanism, or distribute a means to break a protection mechanism. Although that mechanism was severely flawed.
  • Clueless authorities (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hasse ( 30390 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#2816389)
    The national norwegian authorities for economic crime, that have indicted Jon Johansen, are genrally known to be clueless when it comes to technology. Their latest move in this regard was to reccomend outlawing anonymous email.

    When it comes to Jon Johansen, he was initially quoted saying that he only made the gui for DeCSS and that the program itself was made by som german in his group. Only later did he claim to be the author of the entire program.

    He was hired for his "skillz" by some startup norwegian dotcom, but was soon sacked.
  • by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#2816390) Homepage
    Hey, if the Norwegian authorities determine that it is indeed illegal to distribute the DeCSS source code, does that mean that the Norwegian authorities will call the FBI to have US citizens arrested, detained and then extradited to stand trial in Norway?

    I mean, after all, isn't that what the FBI does now? When a foreign national breaks a US law but is not currently in the country, we have foreign law enforcement authorities extradite them to the US to stand trial. The US government has been doing this for years--imagine if the Norwegian government began to do that same? The country would be devoid of DVD-owning Linux users. :-(
  • by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:22AM (#2816422) Homepage
    The real reason that they're prosecuting him is that Økokrim (The department responsible for investigating computer crimes here in Norway) and their state prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde are dreaming about a police state where they have absolute control. A week or so ago, she said she wanted to outlaw the use of anonymous email. Normally, one would just ignore such a person, but her high position makes her really dangerous if she ever manage to pass the laws she want to.
  • by leroy152 ( 260029 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:28AM (#2816462) Homepage
    are they indicting him just to get a judge to make a ruling about the law? Isn't the adgenda of prosecutor to put criminals away and not to try potentially innocent (they're not even sure) with an intrusive court case just to find out a judges interpretation of an ambigious law.

    Next thing ye know, they'll have prosecutors setting up people just to see if a new law can be applied, wait for a conviciton, then if the innocent can be bothered with an appeal, add in a statement such as "Oh, it was kinda entrapment, it just didn't seem relevant to tell the court at the trial *shrug*, but at least we know how the law should be interpreted!".

    Then again, I might be completely wrong, and if that's the case then ... mookle.


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

    by klaun ( 236494 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:28AM (#2816464)
    We have no 'rights' to view any movie, really. If we did, theaters couldn't make a profit off of tickets, and DVDs would only be priced high enough to cover costs.

    The problem with this line of argument is that when you go to a theatre, it doesn't look like you are buying anything. The transaction doesn't make you believe that you are buying the theatre or the spool of film. When you buy a DVD the transaction does look like you are purchasing something, not like you are entering into a contract, or licensing agreement. There has been strong legal precedent that if a transaction looks like you are buying something then you are.

    Elsewhere the poster said: When you purchase a DVD, you are paying for the ability to play it on players approved by the people who made the disc. As much as everyone hates to admit it, there is nothing illegal about this. You can buy a DVD without owning a player, and if you do you can't sue about not being able to watch it.

    How did you get to be the arbiter of this? I'm sorry but the courts disagree. If it looks like a purchase then it is. Basically, you are saying that DVD purchase is a privelege of "club members" and that you get to be part of the club by purchasing an approved DVD player. Most states have laws governing how such clubs operate that as far as I know are being ignored by DVD player manufacturers and retailers.

    P.S. I have moderator points, but I replied to this post rather than mod-ing it down, so all you people that bitch about that should mod me up!

  • by KeyserDK ( 301544 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:30AM (#2816470) Homepage
    It looks very odd indeed, maybe they are covering up their mistakes by charging him.

    2 years investigation costs alot of money, and if they dont charge him it might not look that good.

    Another motive could be political, i.e. they arent satisfied with the current law. It does seems rather useless in most cases.

    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.

    In denmark it's legal to copy for your own use. So it wouldn't be a problem. I think they law the used to charge him is quite rare(one of those new computer laws that are different for each country) besides that it looks as an extremely vague case, allthough as the guy above IANAL.
  • MPAA's Logic of CSS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Catiline ( 186878 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:30AM (#2816471) Homepage Journal
    I'm not associated with the MPAA, but after some thought on this I came up with the only reasonable explanation for their behavior.

    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.

    So here's what they do. First they need to get total control of their current works, so they create a "copy control scheme"- yes, CSS. But wait, CSS doesn't stop copying- pirates can copy a DVD and the CSS layer (with the right equipment; almost certainly possible with the same used by the studios to make the DVDs to start with, or such with small modifications). So CSS won't effectivly stop copying, just "unauthorized" access.

    Step two in this nefarious scheme is to make it illegal to break this protection scheme (vis a vis the DMCA). And now, the perpetrators rest assured that (barring any bumps) they can now gain income on their works forever. Why? Because I can't try to de-CSS (or if you prefer DeCSS) a DVD movie (even one that has passed into public domain) without doing something illegal. So whoever CSS'd the movie in the first place becomes the only legal distributor, even though the content may (technically) be in the public domain.

    Yes, even I recognize this as being overtly paranoid, but I challenge you to come up with a better alternative explanation of recent events.
  • by KjetilK ( 186133 ) <kjetil.kjernsmo@net> on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:34AM (#2816498) Homepage Journal
    I'm Norwegian too, and I think actually the law is pretty clear, and I really can't understand how they can indict him after this wording.

    The encryption isn't protected, the movie is. So, if he hadn't bought the movie but grabbed without having bought it, he would have broken the law. But he didn't do that. The movie was his. He bought it. He has the right to access it, according to the law.

    Even Jon Bing, a law professor and a huge authority in Norway, and well, I guess I should refrain from any characterizations of him, even said that he thought JLJ didn't break the law.

    I don't think they can win this case.

  • Two Things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xonker ( 29382 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:36AM (#2816512) Homepage Journal
    One: is there a fund for Jon that we can contribute to?

    Two: I wonder if the MPAA or movie studios could be sued for false advertising? If you notice, all advertisements for DVDs like "Shrek" or whatever scream "own this DVD NOW!" Yet, the studios emphatically deny that customers actually own the DVD or the right to do anything with it other than play it on an officially sanctioned player. If you "own" the DVD doesn't that imply the right to play it in any way you want, or can do with it as you will? Obviously, you don't own the rights to the content, so re-distribution is out -- but I'd think ownership should require the right to decode the content for personal use.

    Class action suit, anyone?
  • Authorized? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by friartux ( 89443 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @11:43AM (#2816564)

    I suspect someone's going to have a field day talking about the word "authorized" in that law.

    Obviously access is authorized, otherwise no one could play the movie on *anything*.

    And who gets to "authorize" the access? Does Norway permit companies to write their own little bits of legislation defining "authorization"? And to "authorize" helping themselves to more money by creating more middleware (pay for the disc with the movie, pay for the decoder, pay for the displayer, pay for a chair to park your ass in while you watch it)? Is building your own furniture now illegal, too? :)

    Alternatively, are those who write versions of "login" equally culpable under this misbegotten law? After all, it permits access to systems and data, and might conceivably be misused to gain "unauthorized" access.

    Hopefully Afterposten will continue with English translations on this story...
  • by evilpaul13 ( 181626 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:01PM (#2816659)
    Some website vandals and system crackers lack of moral backbone has little bearing on Law Enforcement toying with people's lives. "Two years, to investigate existing evidence and you don't really know whether a suspect broke the law, which you don't actually even understand, so charge him and let the courts figure it out?" (The jist of the story) Sorry, but that is irresponsible bullshit. It's like charging someone with murder without a victim.

    Slashdot is not encouraging illegal behavior, The US Federal Gov't is making illegal laws.

    The simple fact of the matter is, that the Fed lacks the authority to further several corporation's interests at the expense of inalienable rights of its citizens. The DMCA violates the Free Expression, First Sale Doctrine, and Fair Use rights of the American people. None of those are rights granted by the law, they are simply given legal recognition.

    If the First Amendment was repealed tomorrow, Americans wouldn't lose their right to free expression, their right to free expression would simply lose legal recognition. The Right to Free Speech was never given by the Federal Government, and isn't the Federal Government's to take away.

    All that making DeCSS illegal does is make it so you can't legally watch a DVD on any software or hardware that the creator of didn't pay a $100,000 minimum license fee to the MPAA.

    To **COPY** and **PIRATE** a DVD, you just duplicate it bit-by-bit. You **DO NOT** use DeCSS to decrypt it first, or it will not even work on many DVD players.

    Now, would you please explain what evil behavior the Slashdot community is tolerating here? If I go into DVD-World and buy six movies where does the MPAA get the right to tell me what I can watch them on?

    Civil liberties aren't priviledges that are granted and taken away from bad little boys and bad little girls a the whim of big brother. They are your beating heart in your chest, ripped, still beating, from it by murderous tyrants.
  • Same old lie... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cyberdyne ( 104305 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:10PM (#2816730) Journal
    ...the protection system Content Scrambling System (CSS), that protects the content of DVD-disks from copying.

    Does it hell! Will someone please explain to these reporters that encryption has no effect on copying whatsoever?

    An encrypted block of data is exactly as easy to copy as the plaintext it was made from. All the CSS encryption system does is force those wanting to play a DVD to agree to a license from the DVD CCA (the licensing outfit controlling the encryption keys). Ultimately, I think this is what the MPAA and co want: control. Bit by bit, they build up their control; Macrovision, no skipping the FBI warning, region coding - maybe next you won't be able to skip the trailers, either? Then some sort of pay-per-view version (DiVX tried, but was too early - then. Will it return in another guise?)

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:18PM (#2816804) Homepage Journal

    We need to lead by example - log off of Gnutella, start paying for software (even Windows), stop cracking your DVDs and eBooks "for fun," and start acting like an upstanding citizen.

    (Damn, this troll pushes just the right buttons.) Fighting usage restrictions (CSS, eBook protection, etc) is not in the same moral domain as pirating stuff with Gnutella/Napster/etc!

    It is only through a hideously twisted set of values (and laws), that wanting to play/read/quotefrom a DVD or eBook, is somehow akin to empathizing with criminals. You're right that we're producing criminals, but the way we're producing criminals is that we're passing legislation that makes morally upstanding acts become illegal.

  • ya know... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pcgamez ( 40751 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:20PM (#2816821)
    Its all about how DeCSS is being used. There ARE many legitamate people using it for legit reasons. For instance, I own a copy of both the VHS and DVD versions of The Matrix. Why do I not have a right to have a copy of my PC?

    YES, I understand it is not legal, but that is not the issue. What is law and what is moral is always in a struggle.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:25PM (#2816867) Homepage
    the first thing to remember and to yell louder than everything else you say needs to be, DeCSS is not needed nor aids in copying DVD movies. DVD movies can easily be copied without DeCSS and were being copied without it easily before DeCSS existed. DeCSS does nothing to aid DVD copying, it was happening already.

    That needs to be the soundbite that every lay-person needs to hear fors and at at least 15 decibels louder than the rest of the explination.

    and I would add at the end how most every tool has a dark use.
  • by /ASCII ( 86998 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:28PM (#2816884) Homepage
    Ho hum, that is a good point.

    Whenever the copyright of Snowwhite expires, we'll only have the right to copy and give away the VHS version. Sinister.
  • Re:Authorized? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @12:41PM (#2816980)
    Wouldn't that result in a ban of any DVD players that aren't licensed (are there any? The ones that come with the ability to play multiple zones probably fall under that). They couldn't sport the DVD symbol, but they can say DVD compatible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2002 @01:07PM (#2817164)
    When you buy a ticket at a movie theatre, that ticket serves *only* as a receipt, allowing your admittance into the theatre. From there, you may see any number of movie(s) you desire and they cannot do a thing to stop you.
  • by olafva ( 188481 ) on Thursday January 10, 2002 @03:11PM (#2818177) Homepage
    You may be interested in today's Dagbladet Story: 1. html

    Helps in translating words & phrases are at:
  • Media and lies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hkmwbz ( 531650 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:46AM (#2823104) Journal
    "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."

    Is that really the case? Do you have anything to back up this claim?

    As someone pointed out, LinuxWorld [] had an interview in February 2000 (I believe), where Jon was quoted as saying:

    "the encryption code wasn't in fact written by me, but written by the German member"

    Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten [] also reports that:

    "In hacker circles Johansen has come under criticism for taking the credit for the codebreaking, but Johansen himself says he has been misquoted by the media."

    I personally find it easy to believe that the media would misquote him, as they misquote everyone else. When they can write big headlines, they don't worry about twisting facts, and a Norwegian kid doing something like this - now that was something they couldn't resist!

    I personally will refrain from judging anyone (heh). If you can give me conclusive evidence that Jon did in fact have the nerve to take all the credit himself, I'll be happy to concede defeat.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin