Below is the press release we sent, here’s an English translation of the judgment (thanks to Topi Junkkari) and here’s a more detailed analysis of the case and its potential implications.

* * *

Helsinki May 25, 2007
Turre Legal
Free for publication immediately

Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective”

In an unanimous decision released today, 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 “effective technological measures”. 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.”

The background of the case was that 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. Most of the activists thought that either the police does not investigate the case in the first place or the prosecutor drops it if it goes any further. To the surprise of many, 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 “…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.” Thus, the court concluded that “CSS protection can no longer be held ‘effective’ as defined in law.” All charges were dismissed.

Defendant Mikko Rauhala is happy about the judgment: “It seems that one can apply bad law with common sense, which was unfortunately absent during the preparation of the law” he comments. Defendant’s counsel Mikko Välimäki thinks the judgment can have major implications: “The conclusions of the court can be applied all over Europe since the word ‘effective’ comes directly from the directive”. He continues: “A 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.”

Further information:

Mikko Välimäki
Defendants’ counsel
tel. +358-50-5980498

Mikko Rauhala
Defendant who opened the forum

EU Copyright Directive, article 6(3)

34 Comments
  • [...] Oikeuden edessä (ITviikko) [...]

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  • [...] In Finland today a court has found that the CSS (Content Scrambling System) protection in place on DVDs is “ineffective” (Link via: BB), meaning that they should have no legal protection. There is a more detailed legal analysis of the case from Mikko Välimäki; if you are interested in the legal points of the case it is good reading. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Gizmodo May 25, 2007 at 20:22

    It's Legal to Break DVD DRM in Finland... Do you hear that sound? That's thousands of nerds cheering loudly, then coughing uncontrollably, then reaching for their inhalers thanks to a court ruling in Finland that rules CSS protection for DVDs ineffective. Why does this matter? Because under F...

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  • Posted by Slashdot May 25, 2007 at 21:36

    CSS of DVDs Ruled 'Ineffective' by Finnish Courts

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  • [...] Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” [Turre] tr { border: 0px } td { cellborder: 10px} table { border: 1px solid black } [...]

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  • Posted by Ivan Kuznetsov May 25, 2007 at 23:52

    Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective”... Today, after a long court battle, breaking CSS protection in DVDs is finally made legal in Finland. Leading Finnish technology law firm Turre Legal was representing Mikko Rauhala, who intentionally set up website to discuss the technology of circumvent...

    Reply
  • Posted by BlogNerds.com | Tech Blog | Tech News » Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” (Mikko/Oikeuden edessä) May 26, 2007 at 06:51

    [...] Source:   Oikeuden edessä Author:   Mikko Link:   http://www.turre.com/blog/?p=102 Techmeme permalink [...]

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  • [...] Related story can be found at Oikeuden edessä | Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” [...]

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  • Posted by No longer illegal to break DVD DRM in Finland at Caffeine overdose May 26, 2007 at 11:10

    [...] From Turre Legal: In an unanimous decision released today, 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 “effective technological measures”. [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Oikeuden edessä» Blog Archive » Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” 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 “effective technological measures”. (tags: video drm legislation) [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Tietoja koneesta » Arkisto » Elokuvat saa kopioida dvd-levyiltä May 26, 2007 at 13:48

    [...] Turre Legalin blogikommentit (syytettyjen edustaja) [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Legal Gymnastics: It’s Okay To Circumvent DRM In Europe If It’s Circumventable | www.theirway.net May 26, 2007 at 14:04

    [...] Legal Gymnastics: It’s Okay To Circumvent DRM In Europe If It’s Circumventable This one is going to throw the entertainment industry lawyers for a loop. Anti-circumvention clauses are some of the most controversial parts of digital copyright laws. Those rules take away certain fair use rights and often criminalize perfectly reasonable things (such as software). However, the anti-circumvention rules in Europe may just have become a lot weaker due to a fascinating interpretation of the EU directive on the topic. Boing Boing points us to the ruling that says that circumventing certain types of DRM is ok if the DRM is “ineffective.” It’s based on a strict reading of the law, which says that the law only protects “effective” DRM. So, as long as you can prove the DRM is ineffective, it’s okay to circumvent it. Of course, how do you prove that DRM is no longer effective? Perhaps by circumventing it. So, basically, you can’t try to circumvent DRM (that’s illegal!), but if you do, you’ve proven it to be ineffective, and therefore, you can circumvent it. Of course, the details in this case involve DVD DRM, which was circumvented in Norway — which is not a part of the EU. So, perhaps the DRM first needs to be circumvented outside the EU before it becomes circumventable in the EU. In the meantime, this was a low level court ruling that will almost definitely be appealed. I’m sure the entertainment industry lawyers will point out that this effectively makes the anti-circumvention directive meaningless as their defense against the ruling, and that might just work. In the meantime, enjoy the circular logic. [...]

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  • [...] Die Englische Pressemeldung gibt’s bei Turre Legal. [...]

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  • Posted by Quasi.dot » Il diritto del nord May 26, 2007 at 15:52

    [...] Secondo un articolo che sta facendo discutere non poco intitolato Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” un tribunale di primo grado in Helsinki avrebbe sostenuto che se la protezione è superabile (agevolmente, immagino!) allora non ha caratteristiche tali da meritare la protezione prevista dalle normative in vigore. Risultato: il gruppo di attivisti che ha aperto un sito web con le spiegazioni necessarie al superamento della protezione CSS va assolto. L’argomento impiegato dalla Corte, da quel che si comprende, e’ un bizantinismo di prima classe a riprova del fatto che la temperatura sta salendo anche da quelle parti. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Podcasting News » Finnish Court Declares Open Season For Hacking DRM May 26, 2007 at 16:10

    [...] An unusual ruling in Finnish courts appears to have declared that it’s open season for hacking DRM’d media. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by news.osn.ro May 26, 2007 at 16:40

    Justitia finlandeza: Protectia CSS din DVD-uri, ineficace... Datorita unei decizii a Curtii din Helsinki, protectia CSS nu mai are acoperirea legala a legilor de autor din Finlanda, prin baza unui amentament din 2005 si o directiva europeana din 2001, permitand astfel ocolirea fara restrictii a acesteia. Se poat...

    Reply
  • Posted by El Mike’s Blog » Blog Archive » Legal Gymnastics: It’s Okay To Circumvent DRM In Europe If It’s Circumventable May 27, 2007 at 03:00

    [...] This one is going to throw the entertainment industry lawyers for a loop. Anti-circumvention clauses are some of the most controversial parts of digital copyright laws. Those rules take away certain fair use rights and often criminalize perfectly reasonable things (such as software). However, the anti-circumvention rules in Europe may just have become a lot weaker due to a fascinating interpretation of the EU directive on the topic. Boing Boing points us to the ruling that says that circumventing certain types of DRM is ok if the DRM is “ineffective.” It’s based on a strict reading of the law, which says that the law only protects “effective” DRM. So, as long as you can prove the DRM is ineffective, it’s okay to circumvent it. Of course, how do you prove that DRM is no longer effective? Perhaps by circumventing it. So, basically, you can’t try to circumvent DRM (that’s illegal!), but if you do, you’ve proven it to be ineffective, and therefore, you can circumvent it. Of course, the details in this case involve DVD DRM, which was circumvented in Norway — which is not a part of the EU. So, perhaps the DRM first needs to be circumvented outside the EU before it becomes circumventable in the EU. In the meantime, this was a low level court ruling that will almost definitely be appealed. I’m sure the entertainment industry lawyers will point out that this effectively makes the anti-circumvention directive meaningless as their defense against the ruling, and that might just work. In the meantime, enjoy the circular logic. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by nežinau.lt » Perliukai #249 May 27, 2007 at 11:31

    [...] Suomijos įstatymai draudžia laužyti tik „efektyvią“ autorių teisių ar programinės įrangos apsaugą, todėl visas, kurias jau kam nors yra pavykę nulaužti, galima apeiti visiškai legaliai. (Boing Boing) [...]

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  • [...] Mitään kantaa kysymykseen sananvapaudesta (saako suojauksen kiertämisestä keskustella) ei otettu. Puolustusasianajaja Mikko Välimäki tulkitsee näin: - Tuomioistuimen tekemiä johtopäätöksiä voidaan soveltaa kaikkialla Euroopassa, koska lain käsite “tehokas” tulee suoraan direktiivistä”. Tekninen suojakeino ei ole tehokas enää sen jälkeen, kun kuka tahansa käyttäjä voi hakea internetistä ohjelmiston, joka ohittaa suojauksen. Luen tuomiota niin, että tulkinta ei riipu teknologiasta. Päätöstä voitaneen siten soveltaa tulevaisuudessa myös mm. Blu-Ray ja hd-dvd -formaattien suojauksiin. [...]

    Reply
  • [...] “CSS protection can no longer be held ‘effective’ as defined in law.” [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Finlandia dice que desproteger DVDs es legal 28 05 2007 En 2001 se aprobó una directiva europea que ilegalizaba la elusión de medidas anticopia (DRM), la cual fue incorporada de forma parecida en la mayoría de estados miembros (incluido España). En Finlandia, acabamos de conocer el resultado de un famoso caso en el que unos activistas estaban siendo juzgados por eludir el sistema de protección CSS de los DVD-Video. El veredicto ha sido que la acción está dentro de la legalidad, ya que el sistema CSS no es un sistema de protección eficaz. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Tech Digest May 28, 2007 at 07:21

    Finn courts say: breaking DVD A-OK (for a surprising reason)... Somewhat hilarious news from Finland: it's legal to break DVD DRM there because their law only protects "effective" DRM, and "since a Norwegian hacker succeeded in circumventing CSS protection used in DVDs in 1999, end-users have been able to get...

    Reply
  • [...] Interessante Story aus Finnland: Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective” [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by CSS ruled "ineffective" in Finland | Server software May 28, 2007 at 17:46

    [...] Here’s a press release from Turre Legal on a recent ruling from the Helsinki District Court. In brief, the court ruled that, since the content scrambling system (CSS) mechanism used with DVDs has been to thoroughly compromised, it is no longer an “effective” protection mechanism; as a result, circumventing it is not illegal. “Defendant’s counsel Mikko Välimäki thinks the judgment can have major implications: ‘The conclusions of the court can be applied all over Europe since the word ‘effective’ comes directly from the directive’. He continues: ‘A protection measure is no longer effective, when there is widely available end-user software implementing a circumvention method.’” (Thanks to Chel van Gennip). 28 May 07 | Source link | Linux | | On Server Also: [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Is it okay to circumvent DRM in Europe? A Finnish court has ruled that a defendent was innocent of infringing copyright by cracking CSS and publishing code to do so. The defendent’s blog tells the story which is retold elsewhere with an overview of the potential circularity of the logci and with the catchy headline - Legal Gymnastics: It’s okay to circumvent drm in europe if its circumventable. It remains to be seen what impact this decision will have outside of Finland. Explore posts in the same categories: Finland, Legal and policy, Copyright, DRM, Europe, DVD [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Durch die Umsetzung der EU-Urheberrechtsrichtline von 2001 in finnisches Recht wurde, wie auch in allen anderen EU-Mitgliedstaaten, die Umgehung von Kopierschutzmaßnahmen für digitale Werke verboten und unter Strafe gestellt. Das Verbot wurde allerdings durch die Richtlinie und ebenso im finnischen Gesetzestext mit einer Einschränkung versehen: Nur solche "technischen Schutzmaßnahmen" sind geschützt, die "wirksam" sind, um ihr Ziel – Kopieren verhindern oder Zugang kontrollieren – auch zu erreichen. Über die Auslegung dieser Bestimmung herrscht seit der Verabschiedung der Richtlinie wegen ihrer Unklarheit Streit unter Juristen und Laien. Durch das Urteil aus Finnland wurde diese Frage jetzt erstmals vor Gericht geklärt. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by » Finnland: DVD-Kopierschutz wirkungslos May 29, 2007 at 17:55

    [...] Das Bezirksgericht Helsinki hat den Kopierschutz CSS (Content Scrambling System) für wirkungslos “im Sinne des Urheberrechtsgesetzes” erklärt. Durch dieses Urteil ist CSS jetzt kein wirkungsvoller Kopierschutz mehr. Darum ist das Umgehen dieses Kopierschutzes in Finnland nicht mehr verboten. Das Gericht stützt sich auf die Ansicht von Experten, wie die Pressemitteilung zeigt. Dazu das Gericht: “Seitdem es 1999 einem norwegischen Hacker gelungen ist, den auf DVDs eingesetzten CSS-Schutz zu umgehen, sind Endanwender in der Lage, mit Leichtigkeit vergleichbare Software aus dem Internet herunterzuladen, sogar kostenlos. […] Bei einigen Betriebssystemen wird diese Software sogar gleich mit installiert. […] Daher kann CSS nicht mehr länger als ‘wirksam’ im Sinne des Gesetzes gelten.” [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Sue’s Place - Controlled chaos » Thrown out of court May 29, 2007 at 23:37

    [...] Thrown out of court By Sue A Finnish court ruling is prompting questions over the wording of a European copyright directive that prohibits publishing information that could enable illegal DVD copying. On Friday, Helsinki District Court judges threw out a case against two men charged with violating copyright law for distributing code that broke the copy-protection technology on DVDs. They wrote code and programs that allow for the decryption of CSS [content scrambling system], a form of DRM [digital rights management] which is used to prevent illegal copying. See the coder’s blog for more. The implications of the ruling are enormous for EU law. The reason for throwing out the suit? But on Friday, the court dismissed the cases, determining that CSS is “ineffective” and does not “achieves the protection objective” as stated by law. This entry is filed under sci-tech, computers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Leave a Reply [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by Shiny Shiny May 30, 2007 at 08:24

    Finn courts say: breaking DRM A-OK (for a surprising reason)... Somewhat hilarious news from Finland: it's legal to break DVD DRM there because their law only protects "effective" DRM, and "since a Norwegian hacker succeeded in circumventing CSS protection used in DVDs in 1999, end-users have been able to get...

    Reply
  • [...] According to what the Helsinki District Court ruled, Content Scrambling System (CSS) used in DVD movies is “ineffective”. [...]

    Reply
  • Posted by KUNSTFREIHEIT.CH June 14, 2007 at 10:12

    Finnish court rules CSS protection used in DVDs “ineffective”... Das Urheberrecht in den meisten Europäischen Ländern, und bald auch in der Schweiz, verbietet es, effektive Kopierschutztechnologien zu umgehen. Die schweizer Regelung ist hier noch relativ liberal, in dem sie die Umgehung für legale Zwecke (etwa: P...

    Reply
  • Posted by Trying to Be like Bill Gates » Legal Gymnastics: It’s Okay To Circumvent DRM In Europe If It’s Circumventable July 11, 2007 at 12:32

    [...] if you could also check this out This one is going to throw the entertainment industry lawyers for a loop. Anti-circumvention clauses are some of the most controversial parts of digital copyright laws. Those rules take away certain fair use rights and often criminalize perfectly reasonable things (such as software). However, the anti-circumvention rules in Europe may just have become a lot weaker due to a fascinating interpretation of the EU directive on the topic. Boing Boing points us to the ruling that says that circumventing certain types of DRM is ok if the DRM is “ineffective.” It’s based on a strict reading of the law, which says that the law only protects “effective” DRM. So, as long as you can prove the DRM is ineffective, it’s okay to circumvent it. Of course, how do you prove that DRM is no longer effective? Perhaps by circumventing it. So, basically, you can’t try to circumvent DRM (that’s illegal!), but if you do, you’ve proven it to be ineffective, and therefore, you can circumvent it. Of course, the details in this case involve DVD DRM, which was circumvented in Norway — which is not a part of the EU. So, perhaps the DRM first needs to be circumvented outside the EU before it becomes circumventable in the EU. In the meantime, this was a low level court ruling that will almost definitely be appealed. I’m sure the entertainment industry lawyers will point out that this effectively makes the anti-circumvention directive meaningless as their defense against the ruling, and that might just work. In the meantime, enjoy the circular logic. This is also interesting information gates talks of new game control system - gamesdog.co.uk 5 June 2007 - Bill Gates has spoken of his vision to create a whole new game control systam which will allow a far more real set of movements to dictate. Wow… I love this using this nokia sees future for touch screens, move sensors (Reuters) [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Court of Appeal overturned the decision of Helsinki district court, which said that CSS technological protection measured used in DVDs was “ineffective”. [...]

    Reply
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