December 03, 2003

DeCSS history / Jon Johansen, MoRE

To supplement the Jon Johansen (re)trial, the DeCSS history below makes good reading for those interesting in primary sources.


- The Truth about DVD CSS cracking by MoRE and [dEZZY/DoD] -

Date: 4th of November 1999.
By: [dEZZY/DoD], [MultiAGP & German dood of MoRE]

This document is written cooperatively by the two groups that independently and simultaneously cracked the DVD Content Scrambling System, in order to straighten out mass media confusion.

DoD -> Drink or Die: "warez bearz from Russia and Beyond"
MoRE -> Masters of Reverse Engineering

[dEZZY/DoD] alone is the author of DoD DVD Speed Ripper.
MoRE is a new group and they are the authors of DeCSS.

Lately, Jon Johansen of MoRE has been pretty much all over the news in Norway, though he had NOTHING to do with the actual cracking of the DVD CSS protection. Yes, it was MoRE who did DeCSS, but the actual crack was not a team effort, MoRE didn't even exist back when the anonymous German (who is now a MoRE member) cracked it...

Most of the papers chose a headline very similar to this:
"15-year old Norwegian cracked the DVD-code".
They probably did this because they wanted to make a big Norwegian "Wooohoooo" out of it. This was also pretty much the contents of the TV show "Vestfold-sendingen" where they brought up matters from Vestfold, Norway where Jon Johansen lives.

In most newspapers they vagely included the name MoRE, and that DeCSS was a team effort, but neither MoRE nor DoD liked the headlines. Jon's comment on this matter is: "I never told the media that I had cracked the dvd encryption. What I told them, was that we (MoRE) had made an app called DeCSS which would decrypt dvd movies and let them be played off your hd, or off dvdrs if you have a dvd burner. I always used _we_ and _MoRE_ when talking to them. I never said anything about me or my position in the group.

Now that the storm is over, I see that all they were after, was to get a big story. They even included some of "my" quotes, which I never said. When media starts making up stuff, it's really sad. I know that this has been done before in Norwegian media, regarding the cooperation between a computer group at my school and the school people in charge of the network. All I can say is that I'm very sorry that the media twisted my words, and even lied, to make it appear as I had done the cracking myself. I'm pretty sure that I will do everything to avoid the media in the future, but if I'm forced to talk with them, I'll have to get them to sign an agreement. Again, I apologize on the behalf of Norwegian press, and I hope that this document will make everything clear. The truth shall set you free."

DoD DVD Speed Ripper was developed by [dEZZY/DoD] at the same time as DeCSS. The first release of DoD's app (which came out a couple of weeks before the first release of DeCSS) did not work with all (WB) titles, like The Matrix. This was known by [dEZZY/DoD] at the time of his release. MoRE decided to wait until they could fix this. In short time, [dEZZY/DoD] solved the problem and MoRE's top coder/disassembler from Germany used that information to get DeCSS working with every movie before they released it, along with a GUI. DeCSS was then the first application which decrypted ALL dvd titles, since DoD had not released a new version to the public. How MoRE got their hands on the information by [dEZZY/DoD], seems to have something to do with the Linux community...

Why Drink or Die didn't want to release a new version so soon, was because warez sites nuke programs that are too close in release (minimum 2-3 weeks). Meanwhile when DeCSS came out, it caused DoD to delay any Windows release until a GUI version of their Speed Ripper was done. However, they released a Linux version of their ripper late October 1999. As for the new Windows version of the Speed Ripper, [dEZZY/DoD] has been very busy with his education and hence the ripper is extremely delayed.

[dEZZY/DoD] already got the idea of reverse engineering a DVD player for the CSS code back in late summer 1998. He was not able to do it at the time since he did not have access to a DVDROM. In the beginning of 1999, MoRE's German member also got the idea. [dEZZY/DoD] and MoRE's German member got CSS decryption code working at the same time (middle of September 1999), without having shared info (although they knew about each other). After [dEZZY/DoD] solved "the problem", MoRE's German member, as stated above, implemented these changes and added them to DeCSS for release.

Before DeCSS was developed and released, MoRE had already sent the source for the decryption to their contact in the Linux DVD community, Derek Fawcus <>. This is the reason why one of Wired's news reporters was put on the case.

[dEZZY/DoD] also had relations in the Linux DVD community (who does not want to be mentioned), but decided not to release the source code publicly (at least not for the moment).

Enjoy the software!

- Jon Johansen [MoRE]
- anonymous German cracker [MoRE]
- [dEZZY/DoD]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in dmca | on December 03, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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