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DVD Jon to work with Michael Robertson

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 20 Oct 2005 4:11 User comments (10)

DVD Jon to work with Michael Robertson DeCSS meets Well that's what the title of the news article would have been if this has happened a few years back. Norwegian infamous hacker Jon Lech Johansen (aka DVD Jon) has flown to the San Francisco to work with maverick tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson. Johansen spoke with Wired about the issues surrounding the move to the United States and how he feels to be on the verge of working with Robertson.
"I have no idea what I'll be doing, but I know it will be reverse engineering, and I'm sure it will be interesting," he said. Johansen became one of the best known names in the tech world after his work with DeCSS, which could decrypt Content Scrambling System on DVDs, allowing you to watch your movies on the Linux operating system. DeCSS angered the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) who pursued Johansen in Norwegian courts but lost.

Robertson has hired Johansen for a new project called Oboe at his company, allows consumers to purchase MP3 downloads that do not contain any Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, allowing the consumers to do pretty much whatever they want with the music files. "We have been e-mail acquaintances for a while," Robertson said. "I hired him because we happen to have a major project underway at where I thought his skill set would fit perfectly."

You would wonder why Johansen would be in the United States, the land of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but Johansen pointed out to Wired that it is not no different than being in Norway, due to the country's adoption of new Copyright Laws. "In Norway, you have the same laws (as in the United States) now," he said, "so it makes no difference if I'm doing my work here or there."

Johansen's work has also targeted Apple's iTunes music store. The hacker wrote tools that allow people to purchase songs from iTunes with Linux and save them without Apple's FairPlay DRM. Johansen is not worried about doing similar things in the United States. "I still haven't heard anything from Apple about my hacks," he said with a grin. "There is a tool based on my work reverse-engineering Apple's FairPlay called jhymn that's been hosted on a U.S. server for over a year and nothing has happened." However, he won't be writing any tools in the U.S.

Now that he is in the U.S. though, he said he will have a look at Real's music store and it's Helix DRM. The reason for this is that it uses the same audio format as Apple, but with higher quality. Thus far, Real's music store has been out of his reach as it is not available in Norway. "Basically, if I have no intention of using a service then I won't bother reverse-engineering it," he said. "Now that I can get an American credit card and sign up for their store I might look into it."

It is a possibility that Johansen will be arrested in the United States, according to Jennifer Granick, a cyberlaw attorney at Stanford Law School who often works with the EFF. "Johansen has been out of the reach of the U.S. government and the DOJ," she said. "The fact is that when you've done something that the authorities think is illegal under U.S. law, you'll probably attract attention when you're capable of being arrested." Johansen isn't too worried about the possibility though. "I'm not scared about being arrested now that I'm here. Michael has good lawyers." he said.


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10 user comments

120.10.2005 6:46

man that guys got balls!

220.10.2005 7:45

ha good thing he has them :)

320.10.2005 11:15

This guy's awesome, but I worry for him. If I had pissed off the MPAA like that I'd sure stay away from the U.S. The entertainment industry doesn't seem to care too much if it ruins someones life.

420.10.2005 13:43

As long as this gentleman does not involve himself in decss research and tecnology and involve himself into anything that would not violate the US copyright law under the DMCA living in the united states. other wise the MPAA could sue him and he looks like he's in a financial situation where he could not even afford the legal fees to avoid getting his little butt sued off for contributory copyright infringment. A person could not only get an adverse judjement on himself but he could go to prison. The MPAA would have every legal right to do so. This is not europe . he could not win againest the US legal system the entertainment cartels and the US congress.

520.10.2005 14:20

yeah, wasnt a smart move to come to the US and then be subject to US laws, He should leave and never come back.

620.10.2005 17:20

I wonder why the DVD has not hired this guy to work on copy protection. Does anyone know why?

720.10.2005 18:24

why would he want to? that would be the opposite of what he likes doing.

821.10.2005 0:39

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
Love it

921.10.2005 17:42

Bad move coming to the States. The Courts, Congress and the mainstream media are all wholly owned subsidiaries of the RIAA and the MPAA. It wouldn't surprise me if they have the sheriff waiting at the airport for the kid to deplane. Our "Government" is owned by monied interests. They would have no qualms whatsoever in putting Jon in jail and throwing the key away in the form of endless charges and sham trials.

1024.10.2005 13:58

I found this link about DVD Jon that tells his history and other things I find this guy to be one of my heroes now

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 24 Oct 2005 @ 16:24

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