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Danish DRM Breaker Turns Himself In To Test Backup Law 466

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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  • 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.

  • 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:this is brave (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:19PM (#30301594)

    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 above the effective limit.

    However I am too chicken to put this to a test :D

  • Re:law vs. law (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:23PM (#30301640)

    Except for all of those people who have invested in said publicly-traded corporations . . .

  • 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:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thisnamestoolong ( 1584383 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:27PM (#30301724)
    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.
  • 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?

  • This is not brave (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:33PM (#30301844) Homepage

    Selective enforcement of laws is allowed in Denmark :

    For criminal law - no (like everywhere else, including the US)

    For civil law (which is what this falls under) - yes (again, like everywhere else, including the US)

    The general principle is that everyone is equal before the government. But ONLY before the government. Not before someone else (you're perfectly free to have you roof done only by someone with black hair, just to name something stupid), nor before companies.

    An example : a company demands payment from half it's customers, say it's christmas and everyone below 16 does not get billed (just making up some excuse). One of the customers forced to pay (16 years and 2 days old, say) cannot complain because someone else didn't have to pay. That is "selective enforcement" and is perfectly A-okay, just about everywhere in the world.

    A counterexample is that the government cannot choose not to pursue a murderer. It IS a (theoretical) defence for a murderer to claim the government let another murderer go free. This usually gets applied to parking fines or speeding tickets. If you can prove the police let someone else go, you don't have to pay the fine.

    The police only intervenes in matters of criminal law. And before you ask, you can get arrested "for not paying a bill", yes. But not because not paying a bill itself lands you in jail, this is civil law and cannot result in incarceration. Ignoring a court's order to pay a bill IS criminal law (it's a felony I believe).

    So this guy is basically an attention-grabber who's knows he'll go free, due a basic property of our law system every first-year law student learns. The police won't do anything because that's not their job. Their job is criminal law.

  • Re:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:36PM (#30301888)
    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 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.

    Of course, cops have another reason to not bother with tiny infractions. It wastes too much of their time in court arguing with joe blow that 4mph over the limit is still a violation. Even cops don't like standing in court all day dealing with stupid s###.
  • Re:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:39PM (#30301942)
    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 anything like ours (should be, based off the same one) they have to act. I think anyways, IANAL, I am just a prelaw student so I could be way off.
  • Re:This is not brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bberens ( 965711 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:43PM (#30302018)
    I think (surely someone will correct me) in the US if you don't actively pursue protection of your trademarks you will lose them. Therefore there can be a case where it's not possible to "selectively enforce" for some intellectual properties.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:law vs. law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:02PM (#30302428) Homepage

    Actually, it would be more like the stories popping up about Wikipedia. Whoever has the most time, the most patience, knows the rules best, plays best with the system will win. Expect flash mobs, filibusters, wholly uninformed voting based on loose rumors because no one has time to read it all. Plus you really get mob rule, like Switzerland just outlawing minarets which is quite clearly aimed at restricting one minority's exercise of their religion. And finally, the people do not vote in the best interest of the people. Each person tends to vote what's best for themselves, which is a different thing entirely.

    Let me take an example from Norway:

    3.5 million eligible voters
    2.6 million in workforce
    2.5 million working
    1.8 million working in private sector

    Right now, the private workers are in a small majority among the total voters. Very soon the number of senior citizens will skyrocket and they will lose that majority. Everyone votes for their benefits and public sector people vote for their own salaries, who do they think will pay? It's two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner...

  • Re:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:04PM (#30302468)
    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.
  • Re:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:15PM (#30302704)

    But the thing is, that he *can* surely copy the disc without breaking the DRM?

    Heh, you can't even watch a DVD without breaking the DRM.

    Is "breaking DRM" the new term for using the key taped to the very lock you are trying to unlock?
    That is all he or anyone ripping DVDs is really doing.

  • Re:this is brave (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:43PM (#30303218)

    Actually .. There is a small little code called "The uniform code of traffic control devices" that states in order for a speed limit sign to be LEGAL. It must show a limit of not less that 85% of the avg speed travelled by all cars on that road as measured in the same or significantly similar section. The 85% number is determined by a speed survey performed within the previous 5 years.

    Section 2B.13 Speed Limit Sign (R2-1)
            After an engineering study has been made in accordance with established traffic engineering practices,
    the Speed Limit (R2-1) sign (see Figure 2B-1) shall display the limit established by law, ordinance,
    regulation, or as adopted by the authorized agency. The speed limits shown shall be in multiples of 10
    km/h or 5 mph.
            At least once every 5 years, States and local agencies should reevaluate non-statutory speed limits on
    segments of their roadways that have undergone a significant change in roadway characteristics or surrounding
    land use since the last review.
            No more than three speed limits should be displayed on any one Speed Limit sign or assembly.
            When a speed limit is to be posted, it should be within 10 km/h or 5 mph of the 85th-percentile speed of
    free-flowing traffic.

  • by Meneguzzi ( 935620 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:52PM (#30303412) Homepage Journal
    You are absolutely right in that, but the point I was trying to make is that 2 million dollars (for example) go a much longer way to mitigate the consequences of actions in Europe than it would go in the US. With a couple hundred thousand Euros you can pretty much do all the home modifications you need to live well at your own home and be productive in Europe, since you can count on having doctors, hospital bills and drugs paid for by the state, whereas half a million dollars in the US would go away pretty fast in the American healthcare system.
    The side effect of this is that there is a *very* profitable business here (in the U.S.) for lawyers to try and squeeze every last penny of a lawsuit even beyond what would be reasonable, with a large drain for the person pursuing the case, and a large potential for abuse all along the line.
    In any case, I think people are free-er in Europe exactly because things do not turn around money as a requirement for survival. At least I felt a lot safer to protest about the causes I believe in while I lived in London (before coming to the US) than I do here.
  • Re:this is brave (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:56PM (#30303482)

    My wife often gets on my case for driving in the left hand lane, while going above the speed limit, but not fast enough for the jerk behind me. She always gives me anecdotes re: people pulled over for "impeding traffic" for this kind of behavior... It drives me crazy.

    Let's break this down:
    1.) Right lane is for slow traffic, ergo left lane is for fast traffic
    2.) speed limit is x, ergo fast traffic should be going x speed
    3.) x+y speed (my too slow speed) is somehow "impeding traffic" (or something like that)
    4.) i am ticketable for not giving room for x+yy speeders???

  • Re:this is brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jherico ( 39763 ) <> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:06PM (#30303668) Homepage
    You're assuming that the laws have to have some kind of consistency. They don't. There are all kinds of situations where an action is implicitly allowed by one law and explicitly prohibited by another. You can even have situations where an action is explicitly allowed by one and explicitly disallowed by another. Logically you'd think that meant the laws were in conflict. Realistically, unless one is a higher body of law (such as the U.S. constitution vs a state law). Even then its now always clear cut. A state law which prohibits certain kinds of speech may stand in the face of the constitutional right to free speech because its in the service of an overriding concern, like causing a panic in a theater. The law isn't like a computer program. If parts of it conflict it doesn't 'crash'. It just get interpreted by people. Making a spectacle of yourself in order to try to contest some piece of law you feel is unjust is fine, but don't kid yourself that what this guy did wasn't illegal.
  • by DaleSwanson ( 910098 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:01PM (#30304628)

    There is no civil case here as there has been no copyright infringement. Rather in Denmark it is illegal to break DRM. He broke DRM and thus broke the law. The issue is that in Denmark there is the legal right to make copies, and in order to do that you must break the DRM.

  • by DangerFace ( 1315417 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:52PM (#30305364) Journal
    Here's another point - he is rich and white - the only way he could (statistically) live longer is be female or live in any other developed nation. Because of this, a year to him is worth less, since he'll be getting blowjobs from cybwhorgs and swallowing a pill for dinner long after I've kicked the proverbial. Since his time is worth less, he should spend much longer in prison than a normal human. QED.
  • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:59PM (#30306094)

    I wasn't speeding, I am allowed to speed to pass somebody and that somebody was on the horizon. How can I pass them if I don't drive faster than they do officer? ;-)

  • by Dudeman_Jones ( 1589225 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:09PM (#30306168)

    The Scopes trial started pretty much this way too

  • Re:Lightweight! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phyrexicaid ( 1176935 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @01:48AM (#30307824)
    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!
  • Re:This is not brave (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:17AM (#30307924) Homepage Journal

    In the U.S. you don't have to go that far. Estoppel will do fine. If you knowingly permit an activity long enough you can lose your right to put a stop to it later. I have no idea how that works in Danish law.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta