A Norwegian who defeated Hollywood on piracy charges pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a landmark appeal hearing that the movie industry is anxious to win to protect its lucrative DVD business.
Prosecutors, on behalf of major U.S. film studios, will try to prove that 20-year-old Jon Johansen broke Norwegian law when he developed and distributed a computer program that enables consumers to make personal copies of their DVDs.
The industry hopes to send a message to hackers that it will fight on any turf those who crack into their copy-protection systems in a global crackdown on piracy.
The plaintiffs, the Motion Picture Association of America — representing Hollywood studios like Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios and Warner Bros — estimate that piracy costs the U.S. motion picture industry $3 billion annually in lost sales.
The case in the Oslo Appeals Court is set to end on December 12 with a verdict expected in early 2004.
Johansen was dubbed “DVD-Jon” by the Internet community after he devised a computer program — DeCSS — in the late 1990s that enabled consumers to circumvent copy-protection technology embedded in ordinary DVDs.