Finnish Court Declares Open Season For Hacking DRMMay 26th, 2007 | By James Lewin | Category: General, Video
An unusual ruling in Finnish courts appears to have declared that it’s open season for hacking DRM’d media.
In an unanimous decision, the Helsinki District Court ruled that Content Scrambling System (CSS) used in DVD movies is “ineffective”. The decision is the first in Europe to interpret new copyright law amendments that ban the circumvention of ‚Äúeffective technological measures‚Äù. The legislation is based on EU Copyright Directive from 2001. According to both Finnish copyright law and the underlying directive, only such protection measure is effective, “which achieves the protection objective.”
If the ruling is upheld, it could have long-term implications for copy-protection technology in European.
EU member nations were required to implement the EU’s copyright directive, which says a technology is effective “where the use of a protected work or other subject-matter is controlled by the rights-holders through application of an access control or protection process, such as encryption, scrambling or other transformation of the work or other subject-matter or a copy control mechanism, which achieves the protection objective.”
In other words, if you can hack it, the DRM isn’t effective and isn’t covered by EU restrictions.
After the copyright law amendment was accepted in late 2005, a group of Finnish computer hobbyists and activists opened a website where they posted information on how to circumvent CSS. They appeared in a police station and claimed to have potentially infringed copyright law. The case ended in the Helsinki District Court. Defendants were Mikko Rauhala who opened the website, and a poster who published an own implementation of source code circumventing CSS.
According to the court, CSS no longer achieves its protection objective. The court relied on two expert witnesses and said that ‚Äú‚Ä¶since a Norwegian hacker succeeded in circumventing CSS protection used in DVDs in 1999, end-users have been able to get with ease tens of similar circumventing software from the Internet even free of charge. Some operating systems come with this kind of software pre-installed.‚Äù Thus, the court concluded that ‚ÄúCSS protection can no longer be held ‚Äòeffective‚Äô as defined in law.‚Äù All charges were dismissed.
Defendant Mikko Rauhala is happy about the judgment: ‚ÄúIt seems that one can apply bad law with common sense, which was unfortunately absent during the preparation of the law‚Äù he comments.
Defendant‚Äôs counsel Mikko V√§lim√§ki thinks the judgment can have major implications: ‚ÄúThe conclusions of the court can be applied all over Europe since the word ‚Äòeffective‚Äô comes directly from the directive‚Äù. He continues: ‚ÄúA protection measure is no longer effective, when there is widely available end-user software implementing a circumvention method. My understanding is that this is not technology-dependent. The decision can therefore be applied to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD as well in the future.‚Äù