Thu, Jan 09, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Norwegian teen wins court piracy battle over DVDs

`DAVID AND GOLIATH' Major corporations and organizations claimed that Jon Johansen had illegally distributed a DVD decryption code


A Norwegian teenager who helped crack a code designed to protect the content of DVDs was acquitted on all charges by an Oslo court on Tuesday.

The highly publicized case pitted Jon Lech Johansen from a small town near Oslo against a number of major corporations and organizations, including the Motion Picture Association of America.

Norwegian prosecutors, acting partly on complaints from the US entertainment industry, claimed that Johansen broke the law when he shared his DVD decryption code with others by putting it on the Internet.

The authorities also said that the decryption code enabled users to make pirate copies of DVDs.

But Judge Irene Sogn ruled that there was no evidence that Johansen or others had used the decryption code known as DeCSS for illegal purposes.

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

Johansen, who was indicted following a raid on his home three years ago when he was 16 years old, told the Oslo daily newspaper Aftenposten he was "very satisfied with the verdict."

"It was, of course, expected, but it could have gone the other way too," Johansen was quoted as saying.

Legal experts said the court's ruling in the so-called "David and Goliath" case would have ramifications for Internet use as well as content property.

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