Court to hear appeal in 'DVD Jon' case

Jon Lech Johansen will be returning to court to contest for a second time charges related to his development and distribution of DeCSS, a program that can be used to break the digital copy-protection mechanism of DVDs, his attorney said Tuesday.

Johansen, also known as "DVD Jon," was acquitted of the charges in January, but the prosecution lodged an appeal with the Oslo Court of Appeals (Borgarting lagsmannsrett). Under Norwegian law, the appeals court must evaluate the merits of an appeal before deciding to hear it.

On Friday the court decided to let the appeal go ahead, said Halvor Manshaus, Johansen's attorney. The court has not set an appeal date, he said.

The case attracted worldwide interest because of the involvement of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which filed the complaint that led to an investigation by Økokrim, a branch of the Norwegian police dealing with white-collar crime.

Fair-use rights in place until recently in many countries allowed for some copying for personal use, but that concept has come under attack in the digital age, and in the U.S. the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to circumvent copy controls.

DeCSS (De-Content Scramble System) makes it possible for motion pictures in DVD format to be decrypted and illegally copied onto a computer’s hard-drive for further distribution over the Internet, according to the MPAA.

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Peter Sayer

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