Hollywood: Norwegian hacker a burgler

Friday, 5 December 2003, 11:00 AM EST

Major U.S. studios, which have brought charges in Norway, said a film-copying program developed by Jon Johansen when he was a teenager had helped DVD piracy worldwide.

"We consider this stealing," Marsha King, executive vice president and general manager of Warner Home Video, told the Oslo Appeals Court. "It's taking our key and breaking into our house and stealing what we've made," she said.

The U.S. movie industry wants to use the Johansen case to set a legal precedent as part of a global crack down on piracy, which it estimates costs it $3 billion annually in lost sales.

In January, a court acquitted the 20-year-old computer programmer of charges of violating Norwegian data laws when he was 15 by developing a DVD-copying program and distributing it on the Internet.

That ruling established that, under Norwegian law, anyone buying a DVD legally can decide what to do with it. Prosecutors lodged an appeal.

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