Retrial For Norwegian Hacker

Tina Reilly
OSLO, Norway – The Norwegian hacker, Jon Johansen, who achieved piracy immortality when he wrote and distributed software for cracking the security code for DVDs, underwent a retrial this week filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

After being acquitted of all charges in January that he had broken Norway's data break-in laws with his DeCSS program, the 20-year-old hacker just couldn't resist applying his hacker talents once more, this time directed at the music industry and Apple Computer.

Johansen is allegedly the mastermind behind the release of a new software over the Internet called QTFairUse, which enables users to hack the digital rights management technology that prevents users from copying files downloaded from the iTunes music service.

Prosecutors for the MPAA are now vying to alter the original fate of the hacker by demanding a suspended 90-day jail term, however a final verdict is still pending from an Oslo Appeals Court and will not be rendered until later this month.

The case against Johansen is the first of its kind in Norway and could prove pivotal for the MPAA and other industries in determining how far existing copyright law extend into other countries.

Johansen first pleaded not guilty to charges that he exploited the MPAA's security code and that he had broken copyright law.

In his original trial, the Oslo court decided that Johansen, nicknamed "DVD Jon," had not broken any piracy laws and that prosecutors had failed to prove that his DVD hacking program, called DeCSS, had been used for illegal copying, said Reuters.

Prosecutors also failed to prove that Johansen had in any way harmed the movie industry, which claims it has been severely hit by piracy acts similar to the one by Johansen.

According to Reuters, the result of the retrial will be closely monitored by the legal team representing the MPAA.

A trial of this nature is expected to set a precedent for all future piracy trials involving hackers and users of peer-to-peer networks who trade copyrighted material illegally.

According to Reuters, MPAA prosecutors are calling for a 90-day jail term, although they have said they would settle for 45 days if the court chose to disregard the argument that DVD Jon had caused damage for the film industry.