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Links to Illegal Material / Hyperlinks to DeCSS, MP3-Files and unauthorized Playmate Pictures etc. - Part 2


Playmate Pictures - AllofMp3 - Universal Music Australia v Cooper - Baidu - Fahrenheit 9/11 - - Music Industry v. Kefk Network - Schöner Wetten - Illegal Pirate Devices - Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Inc. - Mark Pollard v. Miramax Film - Donkeymania - ShareReactor - DeCSS – Cases: Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes and  DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Andrew Bunner -  Phonefile v. Startsiden



Illegal Playmate Pictures

According to the regional court Munich I (AZ. 7 O 18165/03), the operator of a link catalog, to which unknown third parties can add links, is not obliged to check for possible illegal content on the linked to sites. Otherwise the entire business model of such a link catalog would be in question.

Defendants website contained a list of links which lead to websites with erotic content. Everyone could add links without prior examination of the defendant. In spring 2002 an unknown person added a link, which led to a homepage, on which among other things ten naked photos of a former Playboy Covergirl could be seen. The playmate had only given the right of reproduction to the Playboy but not to the operator of the linked to site. She required the deletion of the link and payment of damages. The playmate justified her complaint with the fact that the defendant did  not check new links.

Defendant deleted the link, after he was informed that the operator of the linked to website did not possess the copyright for the photos published there. The court found that the defendant did not make himself liable to pay damages, because he was not obligated to check every new link for possible violations of law. However there is the obligation for the operator to remove a link after he gains knowledge.

  • October 31, 2004: Anbieter von Link-Katalogen haften nicht für fremde Links zu illegalen Aktfotos, Heise,
    "Das Bereithalten eines Katalogs im Internet, in denen Dritte ungeprüft Hyperlinks zu externen pornografischen Websites eintragen können, begründet für den Betreiber keine Pflicht zum Schadensersatz, wenn die fremden Verknüpfungen auf Seiten mit kopierten Nacktbildern führen."



AllofMp3, a Russian website, where you can get loads of music for about $0.50 for a whole album, has long been an annoyance for the record industry. Due to a loophole in the Russian copyright legislation they did not succeed in shutting down the service. The website came under criminal investigation in Russia for copyright violations, but in March 2005, it emerged that wasn't breaking any current Russian laws. That did not stop the music industry from suing AllofMp3 in other countries. In Germany, a District Court in Munich has prohibited allofmp3 from making copyrighted data publicly available within Germany by way of a temporary injunction . As a result of this ruling the Munich law firm, Waldorf, on behalf of some record companies (Edel, EMI, Sony BMG, SPV, Universal and Warner) started sending warning letters to the operators of German websites which link to AllofMP3. The notice says: "By establishing a hyperlink to the Internet page in question you are enabling the acquisition of copyright protected sound recordings of our clients via the illegal download offer. By illegally providing public access you are thereby objectively supporting the illegal dissemination of copyright protected sound recordings [...] or even aiding and abetting such activity." The fine for non-removal of a link to AllofMP3 by private persons is €75,000.

  • July 11, 2005: Warning notices on account of links to AllofMP3, Heise:
    "The music industry has begun to carry out its threat and is sending warning notices to website operators who have set links to the Russian music download platform AllofMP3."


Universal Music Australia v Cooper

The music industry is celebrating a victory. In Australia the operator of, which provided links to pirated material has been found guilty of copyright infringement by Australia’s Federal Court (Universal Music Australia v Cooper, the ComCen case). The lawsuit was brought by a number of music companies including Universal, Sony and EMI.

Defendant's website contained hyperlinks to thousands of unauthorized sound recordings which were located on remote websites and were downloaded directly from those websites to the computer of the internet user. The court held that defendant had “permitted or approved” and thereby authorized the copyright infringement by internet users who accessed his website. According to reports on the case, the ruling means that linking to websites with pirated material, and not just downloading it, is an infringement of copyright in Australia. In my opinion one can't conclude from the judgement that merely linking to copyrighted material on the web infringes copyright. Defendant lost his case because the Court held against the him that he facilitated and encouraged other people to infringe.

Text of the decision



Baidu, a Chinese search engine, filed documents for a Nasdaq listing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in July 2005. According to the prospectus, Baidu hopes to raise a maximum of 80 million US dollars. Baidu also stated that its MP3 download service links to third-party Web sites that offer content that may be copyright protected. Although according to Baidu, 22 percent of the traffic on its website comes from users, who long a source for free music downloads, Baidu agreed to remove thousands of links to pirated music in response to requests from R2G, a Chinese digital rights management company which tracks piracy and manages licences for music publishers. Baidu claims, the search engine has investigated possible violations involving more than 50.000 files.

  • July 18, 2005: China's Baidu to remove pirated music links -FT, Reuters:
    " Inc., China's biggest Internet search engine and which is pursuing a U.S. public listing, has agreed to remove links to thousands of Internet sites offering pirated music, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday."


September 2005 Update:

As of September 2005, is the fifth most visited site on the Internet and dominates the search engine market in China. Baidu accounts for 37% of the Chinese search market, followed by Google with 23% and Yahoo! Inc on 21%. Perhaps the most popular feature about Baidu that Google does not support is the MP3 search. This is very similar with the image search of Google, however, it searches for MP3/WMA/SWF files instead of image files. The MP3 search is mainly used for Chinese Pop Music. Many results lead to illegal copies of songs. This is the reason why Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp, EMI Group Plc and Universal Music Group are suing Inc in the Beijing Intermediate Court for allowing free downloads of their music.

As internet usage soared in Asia in recent years, the music industry's revenue has fallen dramatically, largely due to MP3 downloads from unauthorised sources.

  • September 16, 2005: Five Music Companies Sue Baidu, Search Engine Watch
    "Baidu sued over music downloads from the Hong, from the Hong Kong Standard, reports that several large music companies are suing Chinese search engine Baidu for allegedly making hundreds of songs easily accessible via their MP3 search tool."


Fahrenheit 9/11

On June 27, 2004, the anti-Moore Web site posted a link to an illegal version of the film "Fahrenheit 9/11" available elsewhere on a file-sharing network, noting that Moore himself has publicly backed downloading the movie online. Moore is qouted: “I don’t agree with the copyright laws, and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people. As long as they’re not doing it to make a profit, you know, as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labor. I would oppose that.”

  • July 5, 2004: Roth, Wolf-Dieter, Michael Moore: "Raubkopieren ist erlaubt, solange niemand daran verdient", Telepolis:
    " Die Gegner von Michael Moore hofften schon auf einen spektakulären Prozess, doch der Dicke hält Wort: Solange es kostenlos geschieht, gilt für ihn: P2P und Brenner frei!"

  • July 2, 2004: Streit um Michael-Moore-Film im Internet, Heise:
    " Jim Kenefick sieht sich im Recht und hat auf seiner Website ein Tondokument verlinkt, laut dem Moore gesagt haben soll, er habe keine Probleme damit, wenn Web-Surfer den Film über P2P-Tauschbörsen verbreiten."

  • July 2, 2004: «Fahrenheit 9/11» kursiert im Netz, Netzzeitung:
    " Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, ist eine erste Kopie des neuen Michael-Moore-Films in Online-Tauschbörsen aufgetaucht. Eine Anti-Moore-Website hat den Link darauf verbreitet."

  • July 1, 2004: Borland, John, 'Fahrenheit 9/11' sparks file-sharing flare-up,
    " The political firestorm surrounding filmmaker Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" has found its way into the file-sharing world."

In 2001 the website “” featured hypertext links to illegal mp3-files that were published on other Internet pages. From the front page the users could access another page called “Add an mp3-file” and write in the name of the artist, the title of the song and the address (URL) of where the files could be found. After legal threats by the IFPI, the operator (Bruvik) shut down his pages as he had been informed that the pages could be violating Norwegian copyright law. So on November 20th 2001 he deleted all links to illegal mp3-files. TONO (Norway's Performing Rights Society) and NCB (Nordic Copyright Bureau), on behalf of the copyright owners and the record companies EMI Norsk AS, BMG Norway AS, Sony Music Entertainment Norway AS and Universal Music AS, on behalf of the artists and the producers, thereafter initiated legal actions by filing a complaint within the court of conciliation. The claim set forth was for NOK 500,000 as compensation for breach of the Norwegian Copyright Act (1961), Section 55.

The district court of Sør-Gudbrandsdal delivered a judgement on January 22nd, 2003 which stated: "Napster Frank Allan Bruvik represented by Frank Allan Bruvik is hereby sentenced to pay the plaintiffs a lump sum of damages set to NOK 100,000 – one hundred thousand Norwegian Crowners – with the additional interest rate of 12% per year until payment is done, cf. the Interest Rate Act (1978), Section 3, subsection two."

The Court of Appeal came to a different conclusion than the district court, which reads as follows: "[T]he actions committed by Bruvik were not an action relevant to copyright as such. He himself did not use the files, and he did not store or copy the files. His actions [deeplinking] consisted merely of reference to sites where the works already were made accessible. References of this kind cannot be regarded, in the opinion of the Court, as a public performance. The actions of Bruviks must be compared to those of a bulletin board containing addresses to uploaded music works. The linking itself did not involve a performance."

The case is before the Norwegian Supreme Court in January 2005.

Thanks to Magnus Stray Vyrje (Attorney at law in Oslo), who represents the defendant "", I can provide an English translation of the Court of Appeal decision.

January 2005 Update: Norway's supreme court ruled that a student whose homepage was linked to free Internet music files must compensate the music industry. The around 170 links to mp3s will cost its creator $15,900. In a summary of its ruling, the supreme court said the music was clearly published in violation of copyright law. The lawyer representing the defendant commented on the decision as follows:

"The disputed deeplinking to illegal uploaded mp3-files on the Internet caused (note: with reference from the Norwegian Supreme Court to the German Supreme Court in the Paperboy-verdict from 2003) no separate infringement of the copyright owners right to communicate the work to the public. However, the disputed deeplinking was considered as assistance to (illegal) communication to the public. Therefore, the defendant was sentenced to pay NOK 100.000 in compensation to the plaintiffs. But, the defendant was not ordered to pay costs. Consensus: From now on, current law here in Scandinavia is as follows: Regardig to copyright law, deeplinking to legal internet files is legitimate. Interpretation of consent is not necessary. But, deeplinking to evidently illegal internet files can be considered as assistance to breach of copyright law. Simultaneously, deeplinking to illegate internet files can be considered as unfair competition regarding to the general clauses in the Scandinavian Competition laws."


Text of the Decision (Norwegian). English translation coming soon!


The Links & Law article on the case has been mentioned on several other news websites, e.g.:


Music Industry v. Kefk Network

  • November 9, 2004, Unterhaltungsriesen setzen auf "Shock and Awe",
    "Die Münchner Anwaltskanzlei Waldorf hat in der Vergangenheit schon mehrfach durch Abmahnwellen im Auftrag der Musikindustrie für Aufsehen gesorgt. Erst waren es alte Computer-Magazine bei eBay, die als Grund für die Abmahnungen herhalten mussten. Inzwischen geben schon Links aus alten Foren-Beiträgen den Anlass für Abmahnungen, die mit Kostennoten über mehrere tausend Euro verbunden sind."

  • October 29, 2004, Abmahnung: Links in Foren mit Folgen?, Golem
    "Agon S. Buchholz, Betreiber des Kefk Network, erhielt am 7. Oktober 2004 eine Abmahnung der Münchner Kanzlei Waldorf im Auftrag einiger Plattenfirmen. Buchholz wird vorgeworfen, dass er es zugelassen habe, dass Nutzer auf seiner Website die Startseiten externer Websites verlinken, über die wiederum der Download illegaler Programme möglich sein soll."

  • October 14, 2004, Abmahnung des Kefk Network



Schöner Wetten

In 2003, the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe issued a verdict holding that an online service which offers links to articles in a protected database is not in violation of copyright and competition law, thus ending the discussion about the legality of deep links in Germany. This week the court published its April 1, 2004 decision ( I ZR 317/01) on links from websites to gambling sites. And once again the court stressed the importance of hyperlinks and came to a very "hyperlink friendly decision". 

Defendant's website contained an article about the success of an operator of gambling sites - a former model - and included a link  to an Austrian gambling site, which lacks a German gambling permit and is considered illegal under German law because it also caters to German customers. 

According to the highest German civil court the link only served informational purposes and was not set to promote the gambling site. The court denied civil liability under unfair competition laws. Most important the court provided long awaited clarity as to the required standard of care for website operators: As long as it is not obvious that the linked-to-site is involved in illegal activities, website operators are protected by the freedom of press and opinion and may not be held liable for providing hyperlinks. Even when the operator is in doubt about of the legality of the linked contend he does not violate the duty of care. 

So as long as as it is not obvious that you are linking to illegal information you will probably not be held liable in Germany. Although the  decision centers around a news article and the freedom of press it is reasonable to think the same standard will be applied by the courts to all website operators. 

Text of the decision

  • June 8, 2004: BGH schränkt Haftung von Presseorganen für Hyperlinks ein, Heise:
    "Ein Presseorgan haftet nicht für Hyperlinks auf rechtswidrige Angebote, die als Ergänzung eines redaktionellen Artikels ohne Wettbewerbsabsicht gesetzt werden -- sofern der Inhalt der verlinkten Seite nicht eindeutig als strafbar zu erkennen ist."

  • June 8, 2004: Deutschland lockert Linkhaftung, futureZone:
    "Der deutsche Bundesgerichtshof [BGH] hat die Anforderungen für Online-Medien zur Prüfung von Links heruntergeschraubt, auf die ihre Websites verweisen."

  • June 9, 2004: Link-Haftung gelockert,
    " berichtete gestern über ein bereits am 1. April verkündetes Urteil, bei dem es um Fragen der Link-Haftung geht."


Hyperlinks to illegal pirate devices

Comcast of Illinoi X LLC alleged that Hightech Electronics Inc. operated a website that included hyperlinks to over 30 other sites that sold cable piracy devices. The District Court for the Northern District of Illinoi found that the hyperlinks are violating the DMCA. The court reached this conclusion after noting that other courts have imposed DMCA liability for linking (e.g. Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes, Universal Studios v. Reimerdes).

Text of the decision


Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Inc.

Diebold Election Systems sells electronic voting systems used in states including California, Georgia, Ohio and Texas. Diebold demands that webmasters remove internal documents, that include conversations that cast doubt on the company's ability to sell secure software and criticize the company's software, security, certification and sales practices, or stop hyperlinking to the documents.

The cease and desist letters earned Diebold a lawsuit by an ISP (The Online Policy Group) with a client (Indymedia)  who linked to the documents and by two Swarthmore students whose school--acting as their ISP--had removed copies under takedown threat. They pledged to seek a court order spelling out that publishing or linking to the Diebold e-mails doesn't amount to copyright infringement. EFF is representing the Online Policy Group.

"An ISP with knowledge that hyperlinks on its site direct users to potentially infringing material is not immunized from liability," Diebold's filing said. "It is now well established that hyperlinks directing users to websites containing infringing material themselves infringe the underlying copyright." But Diebold soon backed off and told a judge it won't sue websites that post information about possible flaws in its touch-screen machines. Lawyers who represent the Online Policy Group indicated that they had not finished pressing their case against Diebold, that they wanted more: They are seeking a court order that says publishing or linking to the Diebold files on the Web does not violate copyright law, and that ISPs should not face penalties for hosting Web sites that do.

A hearing is scheduled Feb. 9.

U.S. congressional representative Dennis Kucinich, who is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, also provides links to the Diebold e-mail correspondence from his House of Representatives Website.

  • December 2, 2003: Online-Bürgerrechtler wollen Urteil gegen Wahlmaschinenhersteller erzwingen, Heise:
    "Die mit dem US-Wahlmaschinenhersteller Diebold im juristischen Clinch liegenden Bürgerrechtsaktivisten wollen gerichtlich feststellen lassen, dass die Online-Veröffentlichung interner Diebold-Dokumente nicht gegen US-Copyrightgesetze verstößt."

  • December 2, 2003: Zetter Kim, Diebold Backs Off Legal Challenge, Wired:
    "Diebold Election Systems is withdrawing legal threats against voting activists and Internet service providers for publishing copies of internal staff e-mails that the company says were stolen from its servers."

  • December 1, 2003: Festa, Paul, Diebold retreats; lawmaker demands inquiry, CNet:
    "Diebold is facing threats on two fronts as free-speech advocates pursue monetary damages against it and a presidential candidate urges a congressional inquiry into the company."

  • November 21, 2003: Röttgers, Janko, Abmahnungen vierter Ordnung, Telepolis:
    "Der Wahlcomputer-Hersteller Diebold versucht weiter, mit allen Mitteln gegen Kritiker vorzugehen. Doch zu den nächsten Abmahn-Fällen könnte auch ein demokratischer Präsidentschaftskandidat gehören. Mittlerweile fordern Politiker aller Parteien eine Nachbesserung der Technologie."

  • November 18, 2003: Juristischer Streit um Wahlmaschinen-Hersteller geht weiter, Heise:
    "Im Rechtsstreit um die Online-Veröffentlichung interner Dokumente des Wahlmaschinen-Herstellers Diebold Election Systems ist nach einer ersten Anhörung am gestrigen Montag noch kein Urteil ergangen."

  • November 17, 2003: McCullagh, Declan, Students fight e-vote firm's DMCA claims, CNet:
    "A federal judge in San Jose, Calif., heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by student activists seeking to disseminate internal documents from Diebold Election Systems, an Ohio company that sells e-voting software."

  • November 4, 2003: Bürgerrechtler und Studenten klagen gegen Wahlmaschinenhersteller, Heise:
    "Die Internet-Bürgerrechtsorganisation Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) und Vertreter des Center for Internet and Society der Stanford Law School wollen juristische Drohungen des Wahlmaschinen-Hersteller Diebold Election Systems wegen Veröffentlichung  interner Diebold-Dokumente im Internet per einstweiliger Verfügung stoppen."

  • November 4, 2003: Festa, Paul, California voting machine called into question, CNet:
    "As voters in California go to the polls, the state is launching an investigation into alleged illegal tampering with electronic voting machines in a San Francisco Bay Area county."

  • November 4, 2003: Why not to mirror Diebold documents: privacy concerns, Politech

  • November 3, 2003: McCullagh, Declan, Students buck DMCA threat, CNet:
    "When Diebold Election Systems learned that its internal e-mail correspondence had popped up on the Web, it used a common legal tactic: sending cease-and-desist letters to Webmasters."

  • October 31, 2003: Diebold documents now on Freenet, safe from censorship?, Politech

  • October 30, 2003: Diebold nastygrams Politech member over internal Letters, Politech

For more information on the case see Online Policy Group, especially the Media Coverage, and

Lawsuit Documents


Mark Pollard v. Miramax Film

Mark Pollard, who runs the Kung Fu Cinema website, has received a letter demanding that he cease online sales of a Chinese film for which Miramax owns distribution rights. Pallard's web site only links to various other sites where copies of this film can be purchased. The Hero (a 2002 film starring Jet Li) review page on Pollard's site linked to, a U.S. company that sold Hero and other films. Although Pollard doesn't actually sell any films on his website and also stopped selling the movie some time ago, Pollard deleted the link after receiving the legal notice.



A judge in Madrid has ordered the site to be shut down by Tuesday, the 5th of August 2003. The site did not contain any downloadable files itself, only links to peer-to-peer file sharing networks. The links allowed users to download copyright protected files.

The creators of the page defended themselves, arguing that they did not distribute audio-visial works, but simply organized information. It were the users that feed the online forum with commentaries and links. They further said that they were not contacted prior to the procedure. Nobody told them that some of the connected pages or files were illicit. Spanish news source Kriptópolis spoke of an attack against the freedom of expression in Spain. Javier Maestre, the lawyer for the defense, said:"...It's the first time in Spain that the closing of a web page has been ordered based on the links it contains. It's surprising that they've declared the complete closure of a site for this motive, when the files and linked pages have not been declared illegal."

  • August 5, 2003: Rötzer, Florian, Spanische Forumswebsite geschlossen, Telepolis:
    "Wegen eines Links auf eine Download-Möglichkeit für eine urheberrechtlich geschützte Datei im Beitrag eines Forumsteilnehmers ordnete eine spanische Richterin die Schließung von Donkeymania an."

  •  August 4, 2003: Una juez de Madrid ordena el cierre de un sitio que proporcionaba enlaces a contenidos P2P, Libertad Digital:
    "Tras un final de julio protagonizado por la anunciada y no presentada demanda contra miles de usuarios de redes de pares, agosto comienza con una orden judicial de cierre cautelar de un site que contiene enlaces a sitios que permiten descargar archivos mediante programas de P2P."

  • August 4, 2003:  Una juez ordena el cierre de un sitio español que da enlaces a contenidos P2P, El Mundo:
    "Las batallas legales contra las redes P2P en España han generado una víctima, la página, cuya clausura cautelar fue dictada el viernes por la juez Carmen Sánchez-Albornoz Bernabé, titular del juzgado de instrucción número 3 de Madrid."

  • August 2,  Un juez español ordena el primer cierre de un sitio web de P2P, IBLNews:
    "Primera página web dedicada al P2P (Peer-to-peer, o intercambio de archivos) que se cierra en España, consumándose la amenaza de una demanda colectiva contra miles de usuarios, que pendía desde mediados de julio y adelantándose al plazo previsto de septiembre."

Additional information: Spain has a law that regulates the legal responsibilty for hyperlinks: Art. 17 LSSICE (Spain)



The Swiss Judical Inquiry Department of Thurgau has taken down the ShareReactor web site due to copyright infringement. ShareReactor was online for about 30 months and served as a link platform for filesharing offerings, especially as an anchorpoint for links to downloads of copyright and trademark protectet games and movies. The site made the "search" feature of filesharing programs irrelevant by using hash codes to directly link to a file.



DeCSS – Cases: Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes and  DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Andrew Bunner

It started in 1999 when Norwegian teen Jon Johansen created DeCSS to descramble DVDs so that they could be played on PCs running the Linux operating system. DeCSS, which can break the encryption on almost any DVD, was posted on several websites shortly after. Despite the DVD CCA and the motion picture industry's anti-piracy task force sending notices to dozens of Web site operators demanding the information be removed, the dissemination of the program could not be stopped effectively.

Eight major motion picture companies filed injunction complaints in New York against three alleged hackers to prevent them from publishing DeCSS and later to stop them from linking to hundreds of mirror websites containing DeCSS. Defendant's attorneys argued that posting of DeCSS was protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and the press. Judge Kaplan's August 2000 93-page ruling prevents defendants from not only distributing copies of DeCSS, but also from linking to Websites where it resides. The decision was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Defendants announced that they will not seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the court order, ending the two-and-a-half year legal battle over DeCSS in New York.

The DVD Copy Control Association brought a lawsuit against 72 hackers and Website authors and succeeded in seeking a court order in California that prevents the defendants from continuing to post the DeCSS program. But they failed to enjoy defendants from linking to it. In November 2001, the Appellate Court ruled in Defendant's favor, finding that the lower court violated his First Amendment rights when it forced him to remove DeCSS from his website. The DVD Copy Control Association has appealed to the California Supreme Court to challenge the appeals panel ruling.  

January 2003 Update:

Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen, the creator of a computer program that enables unauthorised copying of DVDs, was acquitted of all charges against him in a Norwegian court.

According to a ruling from the California Supreme Court in November 2002, Andrew Brunner can not be sued in a California court, because he resides in Texas: "the mere posting of information on a passive Internet Web site, which is accessible from anywhere but is directed at no particular audience, cannot be an action targeted at a particular (state)." 

The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted a temporary stay that barred Brunner from posting DeCSS on the internet, ending the DVD Copy Control Association's effort to keep the California Supreme Court ruling from taking effect.

February 2003 Update:

Norwegian prosecutors are appealing the court ruling that acquitted 19-year-old Jon Lech Johansen of charges for creating DeCSS.

September 2003 Update:

The California Supreme Court ruled that Web publisher Bunner could be barred from posting DeCSS, which can be used to help decrypt and copy DVDs, without infringing on his free speech rights. The state's high court overturned an earlier decision that said blocking Web publishers from posting DeCSS would violate their First Amendment rights. The court ordered the case to be sent back to the appeals court level  and required the Court of Appeal to reexamine the evidence.

The Supreme Court ruling is available here

November 2003 Update:

Borgating Appelate Court upheld Jon Lech Johansen's aquittal. For summary and comment see Bing, Jon, CRI 2004, 53-55 


News Articles  

  • February 28, 2004: Rückschlag für DVD-Industrie im DeCSS-Rechtsstreit, Heise:
    "Im inzwischen vier Jahre währenden Rechtsstreit um das DVD-Entschlüsselungs-Tool DeCSS hat ein Berufungsgericht in Kalifornien entschieden, dass die Veröffentlichung des Codes durch den Programmierer Andrew Brunner durch das Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung gedeckt war."

  • January 5, 2004: Cullen, Drew, Norway throws in the towel in DVD Jon case, The Register:
    "Jon Lech Johansen, creator of the DECSS DVD crack, won't be going back to court. The Norwegian Economic Crime Unit (Økokrim) today confirmed that it will not appeal the upholding of his acquittal on copyright charges to the Norway's Supreme Court."

  • January 5, 2004: DVD Jon seals victory, ZDNet:
    "Norwegian police will not appeal the decision of an Oslo court to clear a notorious hacker."

  • January 5, 2004: DVD-Hacker gewinnt endgültig gegen Filmindustrie, Heise:
    "Die US-amerikanische Filmindustrie ist endgültig mit ihrem juristischen Feldzug gegen den norwegischen DVD-Hacker Jon Lech Johansen gescheitert."

  • December 22, 2003: Freispruch für DVD-Hacker bestätigt, Heise:
    "Ein Berufungsgericht in Oslo hat den Freispruch für den Norweger Jon Lech Johansen bestätigt, der als "DVD-Hacker" bekannt wurde."

  • December 11, 2003: Ankläger fordern Haftstrafe für DVD-Hacker, Heise:
    "Im Berufungsprozess gegen den als DVD-Hacker bekannt gewordenen Norweger Jon Lech Johansen hat die Staatsanwaltschaft wie im Ursprungsverfahren eine Haftstrafe von 90 Tagen sowie ein Bußgeld von 20.000 Norwegische Kronen (2460 Euro) gefordert."

  • December 2, 2003: Leyden, John, DVD Jon retrial begins today, The Register:
    "The retrial of DVD Jon Johansen is set to begin in Oslo today."

  • August 26, 2003: Kuchinskas, Susan, Calif. Court Rules Against DVD Code Poster,
    "California's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the movie industry Monday in a widely watched DVD trade secrets case."

  • August 26, 2003: Dolan, Maura / Healey, Jon, Court protects DVD encryption rights,
    "In a case pitting free-speech rights against trade secrets, the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that courts can prevent computer users from posting codes on the Internet that allow others to illegally copy DVDs."

  • August 26, 2003: DVD injunction is lawful, BBC News:
    "An injunction against the posting of software on the internet that allows users to download copy-protected DVDs is not a violation of freedom of speech, a court has ruled."

  • August 26, 2003: California Supremes issue DVD crack setback, The Register

  • April 1, 2003: DVD Hacker muss Ende des Jahres erneut vor Gericht, Heise:
    "Ein norwegisches Gericht hat den Termin für die Berufungsverhandlung gegen Jon Lech Johansen auf Anfang Dezember 2003 gelegt."

  • March 4, 2003: Gericht lässt Berufung gegen Freispruch für DVD-Hacker zu, Heise:
    "Der Norweger Jon Lech Johansen, der im Januar von einem Gericht vom Vorwurf der rechtswidrigen Umgehung des DVD-Kopierschutzes freigesprochen worden war, muss erneut vor Gericht."

  • March 3, 2003: Leyden, John, DVD Jon faces summer retrial, The Register:
    "Norwegian teenager, Jon Lech Johansen, is to be tried again by an appeal court this summer despite being cleared of cyber piracy crimes earlier this year, his lawyer confirmed last Friday." 

  • January 21, 2003: "DVD-Jon" faces retrial, Aftenposten:
    "Norway's special division for white-collar crimes, Økokrim, has decided to appeal the acquittal of 19-year-old Jon Lech Johansen, accused of copyright violation for helping bypass DVD code protection, web site Nettavisen reports."

  • January 21, 2003: Leyden, John, Prosecutors appeal DVD Jon innocent verdict, The Register:
    "Norwegian prosecutors are appealing the court ruling that cleared teenager Jon Lech Johansen of criminal charges for creating a utility for playing back DVDs on his own computer."

  • January 9, 2003: Bowman, Lisa, Norway piracy case brings activists hope, ZDNet:
    "The acquittal of a teen who axed copyright protections on a DVD has activists hoping views toward code crackers are changing."

  • January 8, 2003: O'Brian, Timothy, Norwegian Hacker, 19, Is Aquitted in DVD Piracy Case, New York Times

  • January 7, 2003: Freispruch für DVD Hacker, Heise:
    "Im Prozess um den Norweger Jon Johansen ist das Urteil gefallen."

  • January 4, 2003: Oberstes US-Gericht befasst sich nicht mit DeCSS, Heise:
    "Der oberste Gerichtshof der USA will sich mit dem andauernden Rechtsstreit um das DVD-Hacker-Tool DeCSS nicht befassen."

  • January 3, 2003: McCullagh, Declan, Supreme Court backs off DVD case, CNet:
    "The U.S. Supreme Court has bowed out of a long-running dispute over a DVD descrambling utility, dealing a preliminary defeat to Hollywood studios and electronics makers."

  • January 3, 2003: McCullagh, Declan, Supreme Court reverses course on DeCSS case, ZDNet:
    "The U.S. Supreme Court has bowed out of a long-running dispute over a DVD descrambling utility, dealing a preliminary defeat to Hollywood studios and electronics makers."

  • January 2, 2003: Juristisches Hickhack im DeCSS-Prozeß geht weiter, Heise:
    "Nachdem sich im November das Hacker-Magazin 2600 entschlossen hatte, den Rechtsstreit um das DVD-Hacker-Tool "DeCSS" nicht vor den obersten US-Gerichtshof zu bringen, landet ein kalifornisches Verfahren um DeCSS nun wohl doch dort."

  • December 12, 2002: Leyden, John, DeCSS show trial opens in Oslo, The Register
    "The trial of a Norwegian teen accused of developing a utility that enables people to illegally copy DVD movies opened in Oslo yesterday." 

  • December 9, 2002: McCullagh, Declan, Alleged DeCSS hacker faces two years, ZDNet:
    Jon Johansen, a Norwegian teen, goes on trial Monday for allegedly bypassing DVD anti-copying technology

  • November 25, 2002: California Court Cannot Lasso Texas Resident into DVD Case, EFF:
    The California Supreme Court today ruled that a Texas resident who published a software program on the Internet cannot be forced to stand trial in California. 

  • July 4, 2002: Streit um DeCSS geht nicht vor obersten Gerichtshof, Heise:
    Das Hacker-Magazin 2600 hat sich entschlossen, den Rechtsstreit um das DVD-Hacker-Tool "DeCSS" nicht vor den obersten US-Gerichtshof zu bringen.

  • July 3, 2002: EFF, 2600 give up: Won’t appeal loss in DVD descrambling case, Politech

  • December 14, 2001: Kaplan, Carl, Experts Say Decision Could Undermine Online Journalists, New York Times:
    "Free speech advocates are worried that a recent federal appeals decision could have a chilling effect on online journalists who use hyperlinks to direct readers to relevant, newsworthy sites that contain illegal material."

  • November 29, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, Copyright Law Foes Lose Big, Wired:
    "The appeals panel ruled 3-0 to uphold an August 2000 decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that barred 2600 magazine from distributing a DVD-descrambling utility."

  • November 2, 2001: US-Gericht: Veröffentlichung des DeCSS-Codes rechtmäßig, Heise:
    "Ein kalifornisches Berufungsgericht hat entschieden, dass der Code des DVD-Hackertools DeCSS veröffentlicht werden darf – und das auch im Internet."

  • November 2, 2001: Lyman, Jay, Court Rules DVD Code Crack Is Free Speech, NewsFactor:
    "A three-judge appellate court in California has ruled that a published DVD code crack is constitutionally protected free speech."

  • August 7, 2001: Hu, Jim, Out-of-state resident can be sued in DVD case, CNet:
    "An out-of-state resident who allegedly posted computer code that circumvents DVD encryption measures can be sued under California law, a California appeals court ruled Tuesday."

  • May 31, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, A Constitutional Right to Decode?, Wired:
    "To the movies studios trying to rid the Net of a DVD-descrambling program, the "DeCSS" utility is akin to terrorware that governments have a responsibility to prohibit."

  • May 11, 2001: Harmon, Amy, Judges Seek Answers on Computer Code as Free Speech, New York Times:
    "In what may signal a heightened significance for a case testing the constitutionality of a 1998 digital copyright law, a panel of appeals court judges has asked both sides of a case to answer a list of 11 questions on whether computer code can qualify as free speech."

  • May 4, 2001: Kaplan, Carl, Questioning Continues in Copyright Suit, New York Times:
    "The lawyers representing Corley, the target of a suit brought by eight leading Hollywood movie studios in a closely watched digital encryption case, did not have a pleasant time of it on Tuesday morning before a three-judge federal appeals panel in Manhattan."

  • May 2, 2001: DeCSS-Prozess: Hollywood in der Übermacht, Heise:
    "Bei der gestrigen Anhörung im Revisionsverfahren des New Yorker DeCSS-Prozesses standen die Vorzeichen für die Verteidigung nicht besonders gut:"

  • May 2, 2001: Federal appeals panel takes up DVD-copying software case, Freedom Forum Online:
    "In a case testing the scope of copyright law in the digital age, a federal appeals court panel questioned yesterday whether software that can decrypt digital movies should be considered free speech."

  • May 2, 2001: Greene, Thomas, DVD decoding-as-speech fails to impress court, The Register:
    "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is "a kind of digital straight-jacket" violating the rights of individuals to make fair use of copyrighted materials, Stanford University Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan argued to the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in Manhattan Tuesday." 

  • May 1, 2001: McCullagh, Declan: DVD Piracy Judges Resolute, Wired:
    "A trio of federal judges lobbed sharp questions on Tuesday at a law school dean who argued it should be legal to distribute a DVD-descrambling utility."

  • May 1, 2001: Hu, Jim / Bowman, Lisa, DVD trial: “Napsterization” of Hollywood?, ZDNet:
    "A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday heard arguments and responded with numerous questions about a far-reaching case over the rights of online publishers to link to controversial material."

  • May 1, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, Hackers vs. Hollywood, the Sequel, Wired:
    "Music industry lawyers plan to tell a federal appeals court that a DVD-descrambling program is primarily useful to hackers and should be outlawed."

  • April 29, 2001: DeCSS-Prozess geht in die zweite Runde, Heise:
    "Am Dienstag geht das Gerichtsverfahren gegen die Website in die zweite Runde."

  • April 27, 2001: Kaplan, Carl, Does an Anti-Piracy Plan Quash the First Amendment? NY Times:
    "There's a long-accepted notion in the publishing world that between the right of an author to control the uses of his book and the right of a reader to engage in free speech is the safety valve known as "fair use."

  • April 2, 2001: Mariani, Gwendolyn, Stanford Law dean battles DeCSS, CNet:
    "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the dean of Stanford Law School will join the defense team for a hacker magazine in an Internet free-speech and copyright lawsuit."

  • March 7, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, Descramble That DVD in 7 Lines, Wired:
    "Descrambling DVDs just got even easier, thanks to a pair of MIT programmers."

  • February 26, 2001: Industrie-Anwälte publizieren DeCSS-Code, Futurezone:
    "Die Anwälte der "Motion Pictures Association of America" [MPAA] haben versehentlich den Kopierschutz-Crack DeCSS einer ungebremsten und legalen weiteren Verbreitung zugeführt."

  • February 22, 2001: Bowman, Lisa, DOJ stands with film industry in DVD cracking case, CNet:
    "Uncle Sam is siding with the movie industry in a case that prevents a magazine from posting and linking to software that makes it possible to decrypt DVD security."

  • February 22, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, White House Sides With Studios, Wired:
    "The Bush administration is siding with Hollywood in a federal lawsuit against a DVD-descrambling utility."

  • January 26, 2001: McCullagh, Declan, DeCSS Allies Ganging Up, Wired:
    "A federal court decision that restricted a DVD-descrambling program ignores free speech rights and should be overturned, eight different coalitions claim."

  • January 24, 2001: Bowman, Lisa, ISP takes stand in dispute over DVD-cracking code, CNet:
    "In a move that free-speech activists hope will be trendsetting, Internet service provider Verio is standing up to the movie industry by refusing to remove a Web site the Motion Picture Association of America alleges is illegal."

  • December 14, 2000: Hansen, Evan, Hollywood dealt setback in DVD code case, CNet:
    "The motion picture industry's effort to ban computer code that subverts its DVD encryption scheme has suffered a setback in California, with the state's high court issuing an order that could see many of the defendants dropped from the closely watched case."

  • November 17, 2000: McCullagh, Declan: DVD Piracy Judge Tells All, Wired:
    "U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan doesn't truly dislike hackers and open-source programmers, not exactly."

  • October 30, 2000: Harmon, Amy, Copyright Office Backs Digital Law, New York Times:
    "In a decision giving copyright holders greater control over the way people use books, movies and music that are distributed in digital form, the United States Copyright Office on Friday endorsed a new federal law making it illegal to break the technological safeguards for such works."

  • October 14, 2000: Amis, Davis, Judge Says Link is Both Legal and Illegal, Internet Freedom:
    "Ruling on a case in the US, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan decides that the same link can be legal for one site but illegal for another."

  • September 21, 2000: Hansen, Evan, DVD lawyers spill "secret" code, CNet:
    "A digital rights licensing group seeking to ban the controversial DVD decryption program known as DeCSS has shut down yet another potential distributor: a California state courthouse."

  • September 15, 2000: Walls, Nathan, EFF takes its DVD case to Linuy users, looking to raise fund, NewsForge:
    "After spending more in 2000 on litigation than its entire 1999 operating budget, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says it needs more funds to keep the DeCSS fight going."

  • September 8, 2000: Hintergrund: Gute und böse Links, Heise:
    "Am 17. August knallten bei der Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) die Korken: Richter Lewis Kaplan vom District Court for the Southern District of New York entschied den Fall MPAA gegen Eric Corley, der unter dem Pseudonym Emmanuel Goldstein die Hacker-Zeitschrift 2600 herausgibt, für die Filmindustrie."

  • September 8, 2000: Kaplan, Carl, Cyber Law Journal: Assessing Linking Liability, New York Times
    "According to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, a link can be bad or good. It mainly turns on whether the linker's intent is laudable or not."

  • August 23, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Only News That's Fit to Link, Wired:
    "Internet journalists, beware: A recent ruling by a federal judge could imperil your ability to place hyperlinks in some news articles."

  • August 18, 2000: Die Filmindustrie hat einen ersten Sieg erzielt, Heise:
    "Im New Yorker Prozess wurde dem Angeklagten verboten, den Code von DeCSS, dem Umgehungsprogramm für die DVD-Verschlüsselung, zu veröffentlichen oder Hyperlinks auf Websites mit dem Programm zu legen."

  • August 18, 2000: Sullivan, John: Movie Industry Wins a Round in DVD Copyright Case, New York Times:
    "A federal judge in Manhattan ruled today that a Web site operator cannot distribute a computer program used to crack codes that prevent the piracy of movies."

  • August 17, 2000: McCullagh, Declan: Studios Score DeCSS Victory, Wired:
    "Comparing the DeCSS utility to a "common-source outbreak epidemic," U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said "there is little room for doubting that broad dissemination of DeCSS threatens ultimately to injure or destroy plaintiffs' ability to distribute their copyrighted products on DVDs, and, for that matter, undermine their ability to sell their products to the home video market in other forms."

  • August 17, 2000: Costello, Sam, DVD ruling may have profound implications, InfoWorld:
    "WHAT MAY BECOME one of the most important rulings in the history of the Internet was handed down late Thursday by a U.S. federal judge who issued a permanent injunction barring Web sites from linking to others that contain illegal code, such as De-Content Scrambling System (DeCSS) in some instances."

  • August 2, 2000: Manjoo, Farhad, Court to Address DeCSS T-Shirt, Wired:
    "When can a T-shirt become a trade secret?"

  • August 2, 2000: Howe, Jeff, Fate of Hackers’ Hero Now in Judge’s Hands, The Village Voice:
    "It's been a long, strange trip for Eric Corley, a/k/a Emmanuel Goldstein, the publisher of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and subject of Hollywood's litigious ire."

  • July 27, 2000: Durham-Vichr, Deborah, Focus on the DeCSS trial, CNN:
     "Linux came to the forefront of the ongoing DeCSS trial late last week."

  • July 21, 2000: Kaplan, Carl, Norwegian Teenager Appears at Hacker Trial He Sparked, New York Times:
    "Yesterday the mild-looking young man, Jon Johansen, was the focus of attention in Judge Lewis A. Kaplan's courtroom in federal court in Manhattan."

  • July 21, 2000: Medosch, Armin, DVD-Prozess: Showdown im Gerichtssaal, Telepolis:
    "Die Hauptverhandlung im Prozess von acht Hollywood-Studios gegen Emmanuel Goldstein, bürgerlich Eric Corley, Herausgeber des Magazins 2600 Hacker Quarterly und der zugehörigen [External Link] Website, führte am gestrigen vierten Verhandlungstag neben den obligatorischen harten Bandagen auch zu einigen blumigen Vergleichen."

  • July 20, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Teen Hacking Idol Hits Big Apple, Wired:
    "The Norwegian teen hacker may testify Thursday in a landmark trial over the DVD-descrambling program he wrote, which Hollywood hopes to ban from the Internet."

  • July 18, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Movie Studios on the Warpath, Wired:
    "Hollywood escalated its attack on hackers Tuesday, arguing in court that 2600 magazine was complicit in promoting the piracy of DVDs."

  • July 18, 2000: Harmon, Amy, Movie Studios Seek to Stop DVD Copies, New York Times:
    "On the first day of a case that could test the limits of Hollywood's control over its digital properties, lawyers for eight movie studios yesterday urged a federal judge to stop a Web site operator from distributing a software program that unscrambles the encryption on DVD movie disks."

  • July 17, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, DeCSS Lawyers Press MPAA, Wired:
    "Pirating DVDs on the Internet is not nearly as easy as the entertainment industry claims, attorneys for 2600 magazine suggested during cross-examination Monday."

  • July 14, 2000: Kaplan, Carl, DVD Case Will Test Reach of Digital Copyright Law, New York Times:
    "An important Internet case pitting Hollywood's right to control access to its digital wares against the traditional rights to fair use of copyright and free speech is scheduled to get under way in federal court in Manhattan on Monday."

  • June 14, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Movie Chief Mum on DVD Piracy, Wired

  • June 7, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, DVD Mediation Sans Media, Wired:
    "Reporters may not attend the depositions of movie industry representatives in a lawsuit over DVD viewing software, a federal judge ruled late Tuesday."

  • May 16, 2000: King, Brad, Tuning Up Digital Copyright Law, Wired:
    "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was supposed to clear up copyright issues in the Internet era."

  • May 15, 2000: DeCSS Gag Injunction Appealed, Wired:
    "Hoping to overturn a preliminary injunction order barring publication of DeCSS software on dozens of websites, the Electronic Frontier Foundation appealed the order to the California Sixth Appellate Court Monday."

  • May 4, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Link Ban 'Threatens Free Speech', Wired:
    "A federal judge should not order to yank hyperlinks to the DeCSS program from its website because it "would constitute a gross prior restraint of speech," 2600 magazine says in court documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York."

  • April 6, 2000: Cave, Damien, Can hyperlinks be outlawed?, Salon:
    "Movie studios aim to criminalize links to DeCSS, a banned DVD-decryption program."

  • April 5, 2000: Patrizio, Andy, MPAA Sues to Stopp DeCSS Linking, Wired:
    "The Motion Picture Association of America is taking another shot at silencing publisher Eric Corley, aka Emmanuel Goldstein."

  • March 8, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, DVD Battle Heats Up, Wired:
    "In the trench warfare between the motion picture industry and the Linux and hacker communities, it's pretty obvious who can afford to spend the most on lawyers."

  • March 7, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, DVD Wars: Defense Rallies, Wired:
    "The team of lawyers fighting a trio of DVD lawsuits has filed documents outlining the strategy they plan to use against the motion picture industry in court."

  • February 9, 2000: Ananian, Scott, Criminal Code?, Salon:
    "A judge's decision to ban a DVD-playing Linux program and all discussion about it outrages the free-software community."

  • February 3, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Judge Rags on DVD Hackers, Wired:
    "The New York judge who ordered that a controversial DVD viewing program be yanked from the Net thinks the hacking community has put on a very poor case."

  • January 28, 2000: Burke, Lynn: DVD Case: It's a Linux Thing, Wired:
    "As the fight between a bunch of hackers and the motion picture industry continues to escalate on an international scale, one fact is becoming pretty clear: The DVD guys and the movie people are just creaming the hackers."

  • January 28, 2000: Schulzki-Haddouti, Christiane, Die rechtlichen Konsequenzen des DeCSS-Falls, Telepolis:
    "Ein Interview mit Axel Horns, Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft [External Link] (FITUG), zu den rechtlichen Konsequenzen des DeCSS-Falls und der Frage, wie deutsche Richter in diesem Fall entschieden hätten."

  • January 26, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, DVD Lawyers Make Secret Public, Wired:
    "Lawyers representing the DVD industry got caught in an embarrassing gaffe when they filed a lawsuit and accidentally publicized the computer code they wanted to keep secret."

  • January 25, 2000: Burke, Lynn: Teen Hacker's Home Raided, Wired:
     "The home of a 16-year-old Norwegian hacker, who has become the Helen of Troy of the hacking world, was raided Monday."

  • January 25, 2000: Norwegian teen raided by police in DVD suit, CNN:
    "Police on Monday raided the home of Jon Johansen, the Norwegian programmer who reverse-engineered the DVD Content Scrambling System (CSS) to allow DVD playback on computers running the Linux operating system."

  • January 24, 2000: Macavinta, Courtney, Court blocks online publishing of DVD decryption tool, Cnet:
    "A California court has temporarily barred numerous individuals and Web sites from posting online a program that disables the security on DVD movies."

  • January 22, 2000: Rötzer, Florian, Bedenklicher Kreuzzug für den Ausbau des Copyrights, Telepolis:
    "Die zwei Gerichtsverfahren gegen die Betreiber von Websites, die das Programm DeCSS, mit dem sich die Verschlüsselung (CSS) von DVDs umgehen lässt, zum Herunterladen bereitstellen, sind zentrale Rechtskonflikte, die zusammen mit der ähnlich gelagerten [External Link] Klage von RealNetworks gegen Streambox und dem [External Link] Prozess der Recording Industry Association of America gegen den Rahmen des Urheberrechts im digitalen Zeitalter definieren werden."

  • January 21, 2000: Burke, Lynn, Small Win for CA DVD Hackers, Wired:
    "Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William J. Elfving denied a request by the DVD Copy Control Association to submit code-bearing T-shirts into evidence on Friday."

  • January 21, 2000: Howe, Jeff, DVD Hackers Take a Hit in NY, Wired:
    "After hearing three hours of argument, federal judge Louis A. Kaplan granted the MPAA's request for a preliminary injunction against three Web site hosts who had distributed the DVD decryption utility."

  • January 20, 2000: Burke, Lynn, DVD Case: Battle of the Basics, Wired:
     "It's been more than three months since a 15-year-old boy in Norway sat down at his computer, posted the code that breaks the encryption to DVDs to his Web site, and set off a chain of events he never could have predicted."

  • January 19, 2000: Mit T-Shirts für DVD-Hacker, Heise:
    "Durch T-Shirt-Verkauf wollen Betroffene im DVD-Hack-Gerichtsverfahren der Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) für die juristische Unterstützung danken."

  • January 19, 2000: Medosch, Armin, Richter verschiebt Entscheidung im Verfahren über DVD-Kopierschutz, Telepolis:
    "Nach einer vierstündigen Anhörung gestern entschied Richter William J. Elfving, dass er über den Antrag der DVD-CAA, die Verbreitung von DeCSS zu verbieten, noch keine Entscheidung treffen kann."

  • January 19, 2000: Harrison, Ann, Civil-rights group blasts DVD suit, CNN:
    "Legal actions filed by eight motion-picture companies seeking injunctions against Web site operators for posting a controversial software program have drawn fire from an online civil rights group that contends the move is unconstitutional."

  • January 18, 2000: Burke, Lynn, DVD Judge Needs More Time, Wired:
    "After listening to four hours of testimony in a packed Santa Clara County Superior Court room Tuesday, Judge William J. Elfving decided not to decide anything."

  • January 18, 2000: Burke, Lynn, DVD Hearing: Suits Meet Geek, Wired:
    "A hearing on a preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court."

  • January 18, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Digital Copyright Law on Trial, Wired:
    "The New York lawsuit appears to be the first to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to try to restrict a computer program."

  • January 18, 2000: Uimonen, Terho, Film studios file suit against accused DVD hackers, CNN:
     Eight major motion picture companies late last week filed injunction complaints in U.S. Federal Court against three alleged hackers to prevent them from publishing an unauthorized DVD (digital versatile disk) de-encryption program on their Web sites.

  • January 17, 2000: Medosch, Armin, Filmstudios verklagen DVD-Hack-Websites, Telepolis:
    "Mit einer von [External Link] Quintessenz, Wien, orchestrierten internationalen Kampagne protestiert die "Global Internet Liberty Campaign" ( [External Link] GILC - eine Koalition von weltweit mehr als 50 Bürgerrechtsgruppen) gegen eine Klage, welche die Digital Versatile Disc Copy Control Association (DVD-CCA) Ende Dezember gegen dutzende Personen weltweit eingebracht hat, die Informationen zum DVD Verschlüsselungssystem CSS oder Verweise auf diese Information im Internet publiziert haben."

  • January 7, 2000: Kaplan, Carl, DVD Lawsuit Questions Legality of Linking, New York Times:
    "For the second time in as many months, an American court has been asked to wrestle with a problem whose answer could determine the future look and free-wheeling nature of the World Wide Web."

  • January 3, 2000: Raymond, Eric, Der Geist ist aus der Flasche, Primavista:
     "Eric S. Raymond nimmt Stellung zum DVD-Crack, zu DeCSS, zur DVD-Industrie und den eigentlichen Motiven ihrer Lobby. "Warum lügt die DVD CCA?"

  • December 31, 1999: Judge Rejects Effort to Block DVD Program, New York Times:
    "An electronics industry group has lost a bid to halt distribution of software that removes security encryption from DVD videos while it awaits a court date."

  • December 29, 1999: Oakes, Chris, DVD Round 1 Goes to Hackers, Wired:
    "In a lawsuit that accuses 72 Web site owners of posting -- or linking to -- illegal DVD software code, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge William J. Elfving declined the DVD Copy Control Association's request for a temporary restraining order on Wednesday."

  • December 29, 1999: Oakes, Chris, Geeks Get Their Day in Court, Wired:
    "Around 30 engineers, consultants, Linux enthusiasts, open-source believers -- and at least one self-described troublemaker -- turned out to express solidarity with the hackers who are being sued by the DVD industry for distributing allegedly proprietary source code over the Web."

  • December 28, 1999: Oakes, Chris, DVD Hackers Hit With Lawsuit, Wired:
    "The DVD industry sued 72 hackers and Web-site authors Tuesday for posting -- and even linking to -- software that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of DVDs."

  • December 28, 1999: DVD-Hack: einstweilige Verfügungen beantragt, Heise:
    "Eine kalifornische Anwaltskanzlei hat in der Nacht zum 28. Dezember mindestens 40 Website-Betreiber in aller Welt per E-Mail wegen angeblich widerrechtlicher Veröffentlichung geschützter Geschäftsgeheimnisse kontaktiert und gerichtliches Vorgehen angekündigt."

  • December 28, 1999: Barnett, Armanda, Hundreds of defendants named in lawsuit over DVD hacking, CNN:
    "An industry group that licenses encryption technology for DVDs filed a lawsuit in California on Tuesday accusing 500 Web site administrators of giving away trade secrets in a scheme to override encryption software that protects against DVD piracy."

  • November 18, 1999: Macavinta, Courtney, Movie trade group tries to block DVD cracking tool, CNet:
    "In a major test of a new copyright law, the Motion Picture Association of America is hunting down and eliminating from the Net a program that cracks the security on DVDs."


“Some” case documents:    



Not enough links yet? See Links to DVD news of technical and legislative/litigative natures, DeCSS Press Coverage,  for more press coverage.

Also see the Openlaw/DVD forum.

Look here for A Brief History of DeCSS and the DMCA.


For legal documents see the EFF Archive for Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes and for DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Andrew Bunner. Case Documents are also available in the 2600 Archive.


Also available online is an Interview with Jon Johansen, the Norwegian, who created DeCSS.

Want to see Photos from the trial? Want to listen to the arguments? AUDIO AVAILABLE FOR 2600 DECSS HEARING, 2600 News Archive

Also see the Decision Section: November 28, 2001, November 1, 2001, August 17, 2000, February 2, 2000, January 20, 2000 


Phonefile v. Startsiden

In June 2002, Phonofile sued Startsiden, Norway's most used public internet portal, arguing that by offering hyperlinks to file sharing programs under the "MP3" subcategory, Startsiden was liable for contributing to the infringement of Phonofile's exclusive right to electronic sale and distribution. Phonofile demanded that Startsiden remove the hyperlinks.

Although the Oslo District court found in its October 28, 2003 judgement that users, with the help of links from  had downloaded file sharing programs and distributed music files in the file sharing network thus infringing Phonofile's protected exclusive rights, it held, however, that - although file sharing programs can be used both illegally and legally - hyperlinking to file sharing program cannot in itself give rise to liability for the internet portal provider.

An article about that decision was published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory (English / German)

Text of decision 


Linking Cases

There have been a lot of lawsuits concerning linking, framing and search engine issues in the last years. In this section you'll find short introductions into the different cases and links to news articles about it. 

An overview over featured cases can be found here!

Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



Masthead/Curriculum Vitae
Copyright © 2002-2008 Dr. Stephan Ott 

All Rights Reserved.