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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 16:16 GMT
Teenager fights DVD piracy charges
Mr Johansen and his lawyer
Johansen pleaded not guilty at start of trial
A teenager pitted against the film industry has pleaded not guilty in a landmark trial in Norway into copyright laws on the internet.

Jon Johansen is charged with developing a software program to allow internet users to get round copy-protected DVDs and make unauthorised copies of films.

The trial is seen as a classic David versus Goliath battle.

Mr Johansen is hailed as a hero by those that believe such acts constitute intellectual freedom in an internet industry increasingly run by corporate interests.

Watching films on PC

Mr Johansen with father in background
Johansen has become a net celebrity
Prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde told the court that Mr Johansen was only 15 years old when he wrote and distributed the DeCSS program, which is one of many available on the net to break DVD protection codes.

It is estimated that around 5,000 copies of DeCSS have been downloaded from the web since it was made available in 1999.

Mr Johansen's lawyer is expected to argue that he bought and legally owned the DVD he is accused of breaking into.

It's been seen as a fight of David against Goliath, a 15 year-old who took on the US movie industry

Prosecutor Inger Maria Sunde
Mr Johansen claims he wrote the program so that he could watch films on his Linux-based computer.

The complaint was made by the US Motion Picture Association and it is three years since the teenager's farm home in Larvik, Norway was raided.

US DVD and video sales totalled an estimated $20bn this year and Hollywood is determined to stamp down on piracy.

In a tale that could itself be the stuff of Hollywood, the prosecutor acknowledged the case's high media profile.

"It's been seen as a fight of David against Goliath, a 15 year-old who took on the US movie industry," she said.

But she is convinced Goliath will ultimately win.

"His acts were clearly illegal," she told the court.

The trial is expected to last five days. If found guilty Mr Johansen could face up to two years in jail or be ordered to pay fines or compensation.

See also:

05 Dec 02 | Entertainment
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10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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