Retrial of DVD-Jon in Norway
The Norwegian Jon Johansen pleaded ‘not guilty’ during the retrial on 2
December of his acquittal for reverse-engineering DVD technology and
creating DeCSS in 1999. DeCSS is computer software that Johansen and
others wrote in an effort to build an independent DVD player for the Linux
In January 2003, a three-judge panel in Oslo rejected charges against
Johansen for accessing his DVD movies using an independently created DVD
player. The court also rejected Hollywood’s claim that it has the right to
control the way in which an individual views a DVD after purchase.
The charges against Johansen were brought under the Norwegian criminal
code section 145.2, which outlaws bypassing technological restrictions to
access data that one is not entitled to access. Johansen’s prosecution is
the first time that this law has been used to prosecute a person for
accessing his own property. This data theft law has been used in the past
only to prosecute those who illegally access another’s bank or phone
records or data that they have no lawful right to access.
If Johansen’s acquittal is over-turned on appeal, it will become illegal
for Norwegians to bypass DVD region code restrictions or technical
restrictions that prevent fast-forwarding over advertisements, or
otherwise circumvent digital controls on their own property.
The case in the Oslo Appeals Court is set to end on 12 December with a
verdict expected in early 2004.
In November 2003, Johansen published a new computer program called
QTFairUse that allows consumers to make digital fair use of their Apple
iTunes music collections by legally opening a music file and then saving
it as an unrestricted file.
Timeline of DeCSS litigation by IP Justice
Jon Johansen’s page