Hacker Pride

Norwegian hacker DVD Jon has taken up residence in San Diego to work for MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson. The 21-year-old (real name, Jon Lech Johansen) made headlines during the past few years for writing and releasing programs that override copyright protections placed on digital music and movies.

New laws in Norway (where he's already faced prosecution) make DVD Jon more vulnerable to legal entanglement. He told Wired News, "I'm not scared about being arrested now that I'm here [in San Diego]. Michael has good lawyers." Among DVD Jon's hacks are free programs that crack Apple's AAC audio format (iTunes' encryption systems) and the Windows Media Player codec for streaming video, both found on his blog "So Sue Me."

"I hired [DVD Jon] for Obeo, a significant new project at MP3tunes," wrote Robertson in a post on his company's website. "Obeo will bring digital music into the 21st Century." Details are unclear, but DVD Jon's specialty is reverse engineering; i.e., figuring out how technology by other companies works. Insiders believe that DVD Jon's first project will be to decipher Helix, the DRM (digital rights management) system used by RealNetworks, unavailable in Norway and one of the few major DRM programs he hasn't cracked.

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