In late January, Norwegian police raided the home of a 16-year-old student who rattled the U.S. movie industry with a software program he co-authored that breaks the security code on DVDs, the latest generation of video players. Jon Johansen, who hails from Larvik, Norway, had posted the program on his father’s company Web site, and it quickly spread like wildfire across the Internet. The son and his father, Per Johansen, face up to three years in prison and stiff fines if convicted.
Only one week earlier a freshly launched Canadian Web site called iCraveTV was hit with strong legal action initiated by an alliance of U.S.-based movie studios, TV networks, and sports leagues. iCraveTV is one of the first Web sites to broadcast complete TV signals over the Internet, showing uncut, uninterrupted streams of 17 broadcast television stations from the United States and Canada.
Under Canadian law, such rebroadcasting is apparently legal, at least for cable and satellite broadcasters. iCraveTV claims the Net is just like cable and that it, too, should have the right to offer TV. As far as the U.S. broadcasters are concerned, it’s blatant copyright infringement, and they aimed to make a legal example of iCraveTV to dissuade copycats. In late February iCraveTV settled the lawsuit by agreeing to stop rebroadcasting TV programming, at least for the time being.
"This kind of cyberspace stealing must be stopped, wherever it occurs, because it violates the principles of U.S. copyright law," Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chief executive Jack Valenti said following the iCraveTV lawsuit, a message he repeated nearly verbatim a week after Johansen’s arrest.