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Background on the Johansen case:

Photos of Johansen:

Johansen's testimony in DeCSS trial in New York city:

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 17:51:41 +0100
Subject: Jon Lech Johansen charged

FYI, everybody:

Norwegian authorities ( have chosen to charge Jon Lech=20
Johansen for violation of =A7145 in the norwegian penal code: ".... any=20
person who by breaking a protective device or in a similar manner,=20
unlawfully obtains access to data or programs which are stored or=20
transferred by electronic or other technical means".

If found guilty, he faces up to two years imprisonment and / or fines.


OSLO, Norway (AP) - Prosecutors filed criminal charges Thursday against a Norwegian teen-ager who drew Hollywood's anger by writing and distributing a program that unlocks copy-protected DVDs.

After a two-year investigation, authorities indicted Jon Lech Johansen in an important test of Norway's new computer crime laws.

Johansen's defenders call the prosecution a wrongheaded attack on intellectual freedom. Creating software that breaks copy-protection schemes, they argue, is not the same as using such programs to steal copyright material.

Johansen, who was 15 when he authored the software, has said he did so because only wanted to be able to play movies on his computer.

"Software that Jon wrote is something that is necessary for people to be able to exercise their...rights with a DVD," said Robin Gross of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has provided Johansen's legal defense.

Johansen, now 18 and a household name as DVD-Jon in Norway, became a celebrity among computer hackers, who even marched to support him in New York, where a related civil trial was held.


Wired News article:,1283,49638,00.html


From: Robin Gross <> Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 11:41:05 -0800

I just spoke with Jon and Per. They reported that there were protests in Norway tonight over Jon's indictment and will be a protest tomorrow in front of the Norwegian parliament.





A trial date of June 3, 2002, has been set for Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen's criminal trial for developing DeCSS, software that can decrypt DVDs. The case will be heard by a three-judge panel of the Oslo City Court and is expected to last approximately six days.

Johansen was criminally charged on January 9, 2002, by Norwegian authorities, acting on a complaint filed by entertainment industry attorneys against the teen and his father. Indicted under Norwegian Criminal Code Section 145.2, which outlaws breaking through security measures of another to access data one is not entitled to access, Johansen could face two years in prison if convicted.

The case is unique in that Johansen was not charged under copyright law but under a statute that is primarily used to combat computer trespassing. Johansen claims that reverse engineering a DVD that he had legally purchased is not a violation of the law. DeCSS was created to build a DVD player that could run on the Linux computer operating system.

Johansen is represented by Norwegian attorney Cato Schiotz with the Oslo law firm Schjodt & Co. EFF is helping to collect donations to pay for Johansen's defense at the following link:

Please note that the money donated here goes directly to Johansen's attorneys. If you would like to donate to EFF, you can do so at:

For more info on the Johansen case, see:

Teen cleared in landmark DVD case

OSLO, Norway --A Norwegian teenager has been cleared of DVD piracy charges in a landmark trial brought by major Hollywood studios.

The Oslo court said Jon Johansen, known in Norway as "DVD Jon," had not broken the law when he helped unlock a code and distribute a computer program enabling DVD films to be copied.

"Johansen is found not guilty," Judge Irene Sogn told the court. She said prosecutors could appeal against the unanimous verdict.

Johansen said after the ruling that he would celebrate by "watching DVD films on unlicensed players."

Prosecutors had asked for a 90-day suspended jail term for Johansen, 19, who developed the program when he was 15.

The teenager has become a symbol for hackers worldwide who say making software such as Johansen's -- called DeCSS -- is an act of intellectual freedom rather than theft.

DeCSS defeats the copyright protection system known as Contents Scramble System (CSS), which the entertainment industry uses to protect films distributed on DVDs.

Johansen created and published DeCSS so that he would be able to view DVDs on his Linux computer. He said the program meant the film industry no longer had a monopoly on making DVD players.

The prosecution was brought after a complaint was filed by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which represents the major Hollywood studios.

The studios argued unauthorised copying was copyright theft and undermined a market for DVDs and videos worth $20 billion a year in North America alone.

But Johansen argued his code was necessary to watch movies he already owned, on his Linux-based computer, for which DVD software had not yet been written.

He said since he owned the DVDs, he should be able to view them as he liked, preferably on his own computer. The court, citing consumer laws which protect consumers' fair use of their own property, agreed.

The court ruled there was "no evidence" that Johansen or others used the decryption code called DeCSS for illegal purposes. Nor was there any evidence that Johansen intended to contribute to illegal copying.

The court also ruled that it is not illegal to use the DeCSS code to watch DVD films obtained by legal means.

In the United States, Johansen's case raised concerns among Internet users of what they see as a constitutional right to freedom of expression. A battle is raging in the U.S. over a 1998 copyright law that bans software like DeCSS.

Even though Johansen's software is now outdated, it was the first to give the so-called source codes, or instructions, for how to decipher DVD codes.

-- CNN Norge's Morten Overbye contributed to this report


Politech archive on Johansen's case:

Related photos from 2600 case:


Kjetil Kolsrud 07 January, 2003

A Norwegian teenager who helped crack a code meant to protect the content of DVDs won full backing from an Oslo court on Tuesday. The court acquitted him on all charges, a ruling that comes as a crushing blow to public prosecutors and entertainment giants.

The case had been widely described as a "David vs Goliath" battle, pitting 16-year-old Jon Lech Johansen from a small town south of Oslo against huge corporations and organizations including the Motion Picture Association of America.

"David" clearly won.

Norwegian prosecutors, acting largely on a complaint from the powerful American entertainment industry, had maintained that Johansen acted illegally when he shared his DVD decryption code with others by putting it out on the Internet.

Prosecutors, who indicted Johansen after a raid on his bedroom three years ago, also had claimed the decryption code could enable pirate copying of DVDs. They seemed mostly interested in achieving victory in principle, rather than tough punishment for Johansen, and sought a sentence equivalent to three months on probation.

Instead, they lost badly. Johansen and his defense attorney Halvor Manshaus won on all counts, with the Oslo court ruling that Johansen did nothing wrong when he helped cracked the code on a DVD that was his own personal property.

The court ruled there was "no evidence" that either Johansen or others had used the decryption code (called DeCSS) for illegal purposes. Johansen therefore couldn't be convicted on such grounds, nor for acting as an accessory to other alleged illegal activity, wrote judge Irene Sogn in the court's ruling.

Nor, wrote Sogn, was there any evidence that Johansen intended to contribute to illegal copying.

The court determined that it is not illegal to use the DeCSS code to watch DVD films obtained by legal means.

Johansen, who was just 16 when the fuss around him started, maintained all along that pirate copying was never his intention. Rather, he claimed, he was merely trying to avoid buying an expensive DVD player to view DVDs that he had bought.

Johansen felt strongly that since he owned the DVDs, he should be able to view them as he liked, preferably right on his own computer. He needed to break the code on them in order to do so.

The court, citing Norwegian laws that protect what a consumer can do with his or her own property, agreed.

The decision had been eagerly awaited, with some legal experts contending it will have ramifications for Internet use as well as content property.




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 operating system.

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


Legal victory for 'DVD hacker'

Jon Johansen wanted to watch DVDs using Linux

An appeals court has cleared a Norwegian man of DVD piracy charges.

The court upheld an earlier verdict that Jon Johansen, 20, had not broken the law by creating a system that could get around copy protection on DVDs.

The ruling is a setback to anti-piracy efforts by the Hollywood studios.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said it was disappointed by the court's decision, saying it encouraged others to circumvent copyright controls.

Free to copy

The case was seen as a major test of Norway's computer protection laws

Mr Johansen, known as "DVD Jon" by the net community, created his program to watch films on a Linux-based computer.

The actions of serial hackers such as Mr Johansen are damaging to honest consumers everywhere 

MPAA statement

He then posted the program onto the net in 1999.

His software, called DeCSS, could decrypt disks by stripping the Content Scrambling System from DVDs.

The US movie industry had accused DVD Jon of theft. But an Oslo court said in January 2003 that he was free to do what he wanted with DVDs he bought legally.

The appeals court has now agreed with the original ruling, throwing out the case of the MPAA.

In her 30-minute ruling, Judge Wenche Skjeggestad said Mr Johansen could freely copy DVDs he had bought, adding he had not violated Norway's laws protecting intellectual property.

It is not clear whether the case will now go before Norway's supreme court.

'Damaging' ruling

In a statement, the MPAA said it was disappointed by the ruling.

"The actions of serial hackers such as Mr Johansen are damaging to honest consumers everywhere.

"While the ruling does not affect laws outside of Norway, we believe this decision encourages circumvention of copyright that threatens consumer choice and employment in the film and television industries."

The Hollywood studios say piracy costs them $3bn a year in lost sales.


Un hacker noruego crackea el Google Video Viewer

Por Enciclopedia Virus (*)

Un joven noruego, que se hiciera famoso a los 15 años por publicar un programa creado por programadores anónimos y llamado DeCSS, con el objetivo de permitir eliminar la protección de películas en DVD y visualizarlas en reproductores Linux, afirma ahora que solo le tomó un día crackear el nuevo "Google Video Viewer", un plugin para navegadores de Internet que permite visualizar videos en nuestro PC.

Jon Lech Johansen, ahora de 21 años, quien es más conocido como "DVD Jon", publicó un código en su sitio llamado "So Sue Me" (, que permite que la nueva utilidad pueda reproducir películas hospedadas en cualquier servidor.

Google modificó su software, que está basado en el proyecto de código libre Videolan (VLC), para restringirlo a que solo pueda visualizar videos desde sus propios servidores.

Johansen, convertido casi en un héroe a los 15 años cuando publicó el software DeCSS, fue acusado en aquella oportunidad por la Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), que agrupa a la industria de Hollywood, y la DVD Copy Control Association, quienes se ampararon en la ley anticopia norteamericana Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Sin embargo, no fue juzgado en los Estados Unidos, sino en su país, Noruega. Luego de un juicio de más de 3 años, Johansen fue absuelto, "porque había comprado legalmente sus DVD", y según el juez, "tenía todo el derecho de hacer copias de ellos porque los DVD's son muy frágiles, y se estropean fácilmente".

Apenas absuelto, cuando ya tenía 19 años, el joven publicó otro programa que rompía el sistema anticopia del servicio de música de pago de Apple, iTunes.

Google ha estado almacenando videos profesionales y amateurs, desde el pasado mes de abril, cuando solicitó a sus usuarios que enviaran su material mediante el servicio "Video Upload Program". Luego agregó el buscador de videos "Google Video Search". Y hace apenas unos días, lanzó el "Google Video Viewer", que permite visualizar gratuitamente dichos videos.

No hay comentarios oficiales de parte de Google sobre las modificaciones hechas por Johansen en el código de su utilidad, apenas un día después de haber sido ésta lanzada.

  • Referencias:

DVD-Jon: inocente y reincidente (Por Mercè Molist)

Google Video Viewer (So sue me)

Google Video Viewer (download)

Google Video Viewer: se lanzará hoy un visor de vídeo

Retrieved from "Jon_Johansen" - La historia nunca contada del underground hacker en la Península Ibérica.