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DVD Jon Cleared by Norwegian Appeal Court

22 Dec, 2003 By: Erik Gruenwedel

As expected, a Norwegian appeals court in Oslo on Monday cleared 20-year-old Jon Johansen of DVD piracy charges.

“The appeal is rejected,” said judge Wenche Skjeggestad in a statement.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America (MPAA) and the DVD Copy Control Assn. (DVDCCA) filed data-theft charges against Johansen in 2000, alleging that he had accessed a movie DVD using a computer that was not licensed with DVDCCA protection software.

In January, a three-judge Oslo city court panel acquitted Johansen of the charges, but the decision was appealed shortly thereafter by prosecutors. In March, the appeals court agreed to hear the case.

The MPAA denounced the decision and said the action is “damaging” to “honest” consumers.

“We believe this decision encourages circumvention of copyright that threatens consumer choice and employment in the film and television industries,” said the MPAA in a statement.

The trade organization said that if the Norwegian Supreme Court does not weigh in on the matter, it hopes the legislature will “move quickly … to correct this apparent defect in Norwegian law.”

Consumer groups lauded the decision, calling it a victory for freedom of speech and fair-use rights.

“The ruling recognizes that once you buy a DVD movie, Hollywood no longer has a right to control the way you can access that film,” said Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice, an intellectual-property civil-rights organization.

In a related matter, the Dutch Supreme Court denied copyright infringement charges brought by the music industry against former Amsterdam-based peer-to-peer file-swapping service KaZaA.

The decision mirrors a U.S. federal court ruling in favor of peer-to-peer services Grokster and StreamCast Networks. An appeal of that decision is expected in February.

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