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DVD Jon retrial begins today

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The retrial of DVD Jon Johansen is set to begin in Oslo today.

The hearing is taking place, despite the January acquittal of the Norwegian 20 year-old by a lower court on charges relating to his involvement in creating and distributing a utility for playing back DVDs on his own computer.

An Oslo district court decided that Johansen was entitled to copy legally-purchased DVDs using the DeCSS descrambling program, in order to play back movies on his Linux PC. On this basis, Johansen, was cleared of piracy and distribution of the DeCSS DVD code-breaking program.

Norway's special division for white-collar crimes, Økokrim, acting at the behest of Hollywood studios, appealed against this verdict. Økokrim is appealing against the "application of the law and the presentation of evidence" during the original trial.

An appeal hearing has been expected since the end of the original trial. Johansen's legal team is confident of once again winning the case. The retrial is scheduled to last eight days.

"The facts in the case are still the same. Økokrim will present more witnesses than in the first trial and then we will do the same," Johansen's counsel Halvor Manshaus of Schjødt AS told Norwegian reporters.

The case began five years ago when Johansen, then aged 15, and two others, from Germany and rom the Netherlands, helped develop DeCSS to bypass the Content Scrambling System on DVD films that prevented their playback on PCs running Linux.

The MPAA concluded the tool could be used to facilitate piracy by defeating "security" safeguards on DVDs. It filed a complaint against Johansen with Norway's Economic Crime Unit.

A raid on Johansen's home three year ago, led to charges by the Norwegian Economic Crime Unit for obscure offences against Norwegian Criminal Code 145(2) which carry a sentence of up to two years in jail.

Last week, Johansen was back in the news when he posted source code to a program designed to help users unlock music downloaded using Apple's iTunes service. ®

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