DVD-Jon Liberates the iPod – Digital Music Wars Take New Direction – Unlocking the Devices
23 October 2006There’s an interesting article about our friend Norwegian Jon Johansen (“DVD-Jon”) in the 30 October edition of Fortune Magazine. Jon has done it again! He has has figured out how to improve existing technology by reverse engineering it and building innovative new software that expands consumer choice — this time for digital music.
You may remember in 1999, when 15-year-old Jon Johansen posted DeCSS, a tool created to build a DVD player for the Linux operating system, and started a fire-storm of movie studio lawsuits under the brand new 1998 US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and California trade secrets law. (Jon was also acquitted twice in Norway by the Norwegian Supreme Court). The DeCSS case was my first case as an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and we were all treading on unchartered territory in those days. Since then, the DMCA and other anti-circumvention laws have created a legal quagmire for reverse engineers that has kept us all too busy.
I enjoyed lunch with Jon recently in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury to hear about his exciting new venture. Now he is 22 years-old, still hacks for freedom, and has created cool new software that could break open digital music distribution. Jon’s company DoubleTwist could change the balance of power in the digital music wars by breaking the lock that device manufacturers have on what music can be played on “their” devices.