Norwegian computer programmer, Jon Lech Johansen will be relieved to hear that his countries state prosecutor that handles computer crime, ØKOKRIM, today that they will not appeal the court ruling clearing him of wrong doing on 22.Dec.03.
His alleged crime was that he circumvented the copy protection scheme on his film DVD. His plea was that he wanted to play his legally purchased DVD on his Linux computer, and as there was no software that enabled him to do this, we wrote deCSS that removed the protection enabling him to play it. This is not normally something the general public would hear about, but DVD-Jon, as he became known as, uploaded the software to the Internet enabling others to use it.
In January 2000, he was awarded the Karoline Prize, a prestigious national prize in Norway, given annually to a high school student for academic excellence and making a significant contribution to society outside of school for deCSS.
When he turned 18, ØKOKRIM Chief Prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde indicted Johansen for violating Norwegian Criminal Code section 145(2), which outlaws breaking into another person’s locked property to gain access to data that one is not entitled to access. The US MPAA gave considerable support to ØKOKRIM.
On 22 December 2003 the Norwegian courts came to the decision that DVD-Jon could not be held accountable or punished for others’ use of his program and that “DVD is so vulnerable to damage that the purchaser must be entitled to make a copy, for example of a movie he is particularly interested in preserving”. Today ØKOKRIM confirmed that they would not be appealing the decision to a higher court.
Hollywood will not be pleased with the outcome of this. It will be seen as a now legal “leak” for their DVD content in Europe.