Jon Lech Johansen acquitted

by Jon Newton, 12/23/03

Jon Lech Johansen's earlier acquittal for alleged copyright violations has been upheld, effectively killing Hollywood's latest (last?) attempt to nail him to the wall.

Halvor Manshaus, Johansen's lawyer, told Reuters he felt the ruling would give a green light to consumers to copy music compact discs as well as DVDs. "This ruling applies only in Norway, but the arguments used in this trial can also be used abroad."

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A verdict wasn't expected until January but clearly, the MPAA's (Motion Picture Association of America) legal team didn't give the court much to think about.

The seven-strong panel of judges and data experts ruled unanimously that Johansen was free to copy DVDs he bought legally, says the Reuters story, going on that the court also ruled it's more reasonable to make a personal copy of a DVD than a book under copyright laws because, for instance, a scratch could make a DVD unusable.

Earlier, Hollywood claimed Johansen was the Internet version of a burglar. ""It's taking our key and breaking into our house and stealing what we've made,"" Marsha King, executive vp and general manager of Warner Home Video said here.

In the same hearing, John Hoy, president of the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA), said the case against Johansen was principally important in trying to protect trade secrets globally.

Hoy's main claim to fame is that he'd already revealed everything anyone ever wanted to know about CSS in another lawsuit against Andrew McLaughlin, Andrew Bunner, John Kew, et al.

As Norway's Aftenposten put it here, Johansen, "became an instant hero to those who finally could watch DVD films on their computers instead of being forced to buy expensive DVD players, but he incurred the fury of some of the biggest players in the entertainment industry. It all turned into a classic 'David and Goliath' situation, with Johansen ultimately facing prosecution by Norway's white-collar crime unit Oekokrim."


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

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