AfterDawn: Tech news

"DeCSS" Johansen goes to court

Written by Jari Ketola @ 06 Dec 2002 15:01 User comments (12)

"DeCSS" Johansen goes to court Jon Lech Johansen, also known as 'DVD Jon', goes to court next week in Oslo, Norway.
Johansen co-authored DeCSS, the software which makes it possible to bypass the CSS copy-protection used on most DVD-Video discs. Norwegian prosecutors, the MPAA, and the DVD Copy Control Association claim that the software can contribute to illegal copying of DVDs. It's basically about consumer right versus the authors' rights to control the content of their product.

Professor Olav Torvund, a law professor at the University of Oslo, says that the case is weak. In his view all that Johansen did was broke into a product that he had bought and thus owned. It's like buying a car, picking it's lock, and then being sued by the car manufacturer. Torvund says that the industry is trying to shove the consumer rights aside by setting technical barriers on the product. Copying videos for personal use is perfectly legal in Norway, as it is in most countries around the world. All Johansen ever did was spread the information on how to open the DVDs using something else than an expensive DVD-player.


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12 user comments

17.12.2002 18:49

What is the movie industry going to achieve if they sue DVD Jon? He probably has no money and secondly if he didn't make the software somebody else would have. This is something that movie industry will never be-able to fix, unless they put the film negatives under lock and key and never release the movie.

28.12.2002 5:28

I hope the MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association spend millions on this case and then loose. Torvundīs explanation seems valid.

39.12.2002 2:58

Jon is merely creating a program or altering it. If he has legally bought the license, does that not give him the right to do with it what he wants. This is just one more incident of the corporate world crying like babies when they realize that maybe someone might want to have a copy of something they have bought on more then one format or in more then one place.


49.12.2002 7:59

Torvund is right! Data we purchase, whether it's DVD video, CD audio, or a game. We can legally rip, change, encode, decode, or whatever we want to it, as long as we don't distribute the items or sell them. DATA IS OURS TO DO WHAT WE WANT!

59.12.2002 9:27

This matter seems a bit fuzzy. Should a user who purchases PowerDVD have the right to alter the code, so that it better fits the owners needs?

69.12.2002 11:02

Absolutely, Ghostdog!!! You own it, right? Why can't you back it up???

710.12.2002 1:09

Couldn't agree more with you, Taurolyon! If you spend your money on some CD or DVD, and you can back it up to prevent physical decay, scratches, and so on, why should you not be allowed to do it? You paid for it. It's yours.

810.12.2002 7:47

Iīm not talking about backing up your software, ofcourse that should be legal. I mean, should the user who owns the software have the right to alter the code itself, without having to pay for some sort of a different license?

910.12.2002 8:27

Good point, GhostDog. But, then again, you can't alter anything you don't own. I don't own the code of PowerDVD. Does anyone? When we buy a piece of non-opensource software, we get the compiled stuff only, don't we? If I had its source code in my computer, first of all I should probably be guilty of some other faults, rather than those against the intellectual property rights. If you're talking about cracking it so, for instance, it wouldn't ask me for any serial number, well, why not? It's mine. I should have the right to do it. And there are lots of applications out there which can be safely cracked by leaving the original files untouched, if such were the case. And, furthermore, why should an illegal user take this advantage and not me, if I have paid for it? I mean, I have an original copy of Windows XP. Whenever I want to install it, I have to activate it, type in the serial number, be aware of keeping it in a safe place, and I have only a few of them so-called activations left, while the "unofficial" releases won't bugger the end-user with such behaviours. It seems that illegal copies are more user-friendly. The same thing happens in the recording industry. A copy-protected CD may not work at all in my computer, my car-player, or even my home HI-FI equipment itself. Illegal copies of the same disc, however, will play anywhere you like them to. Not even talking about the region-protected DVD movies! Definitely, it's easier for you if your copy is not "completely legal"... PS1: Sorry, but this is one of my favourite topics O:-) PS2: Hold on, DVD Jon!

1010.12.2002 11:41

I was definetly not talking about cracking the software, I just wanted dawners opinions on this. The software which we own consists of a code, donīt we then own the right to do whatever we want with the software/code. I was asking since I myself am indecissive about this.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Dec 2002 @ 11:44

1111.12.2002 0:21

Well, altering a piece of software without having its source code is what we actually call a crack, don't we? :-? Anyway, I'll give my two cents. I think that you should have the right to alter the binaries if you paid for them. On the other hand, you should also lose any kind of warranty if you do this. Once altered, it's not the same thing you acquired. But this is not legal. Why? Because software licenses forbid it (yeah, somewhere across those paragraphs anyone reads X-). What if I, for instance, run out of Windows XP activations? Maybe I could change the binaries so they can suit my needs in a better way by, let's say... "upgrading" it so it gives me unlimited activations...? Well, no, painfully it's positively not legal at all. But it should be. And I dare to say this even being a coder myself. If you pay for my software, do whatever you want with it. Be sure I will never send you a lawyer. If you paid for it, you will have technical support for it. If you improve it... Well, please, let me know!

122.6.2003 13:48

EXACTLY: all he did was share info - nothing wrong with that, you can make a program and share it, MAN, it gets me so angry! Professor Olav Torvund is RIGHT! you can buy something (a DVD) and that means ITS YOURS, you can break into it all you want. IM with Ghostdog - I hope the MPAA spends millions and then looses, they deserve it, the greedy rodents! They should just make a new encryption and stop crying like little babies! Since THEY want to own the world, they just cant stand that someone "owned" THEM. I hope the MPAA lawyers dont try too hard on the case

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