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DeCSS Truth?

Some common unknown truth about DeCSS

So, you heard about Jon Johansen, the Creator of DeCSS? A brave soul,
which only intent was to help the linux community playing DVDs? And
you know, that the sole reason why he released only a windows version
of DeCSS was that Linux didn't supported DVD (or UDF) at that time?

If you believe this (like most people unfortunately), you are wrong.
Jon Johansen is not the hero for open source software as he likes to
describe himself lately.

The truth is, he is a liar, a defender of closed source software,
ignorant to the GPL and a guy who simply wanted to copy DVDs. His
lies lead most of us to believe that he is a good guy and got him
even free a legal team paid by EFF. So you should not wonder that this
guy won't tell you the truth, so i have to.

Some words about me: I was familiar with the development of DVD
playback under linux very much from the beginning. I got all the
events live, i wrote source for nearly every DVD-related linux
project (including LiVid and the dxr2 driver). I simply know what
i'm talking about, because i was involved. But because i'm afraid
of flames i won't tell you my name. But i will cite emails
supporting my claims.

In the beginning of DVD on linux we had nothing. CSS involves two
steps. First you need to authenticate yourself to the drive, and the
drive needs to authenticate to you. Unless you do this, you won't
even get the encrypted data from the disc. And then you have to
decode the data using the key.

Derek Fawcus finally released source for the authentication issue.
We were able to read the -encrypted- data from the disc. This wasn't
really helpful, but a first step. Derek released his code under the

This code was running under linux, we were actually able to read data
from DVDs. So much for the lie about the missing linux support for DVDs
at that time. UDF support was already there, but you even won't need UDF
for reading DVDs, as DVDs contain a ISO9660 compatible filesystem as well.

Later DoD released their DVD speedripper, a full CSS decoder running under
windows. Shortly after DeCSS was published. Jon Johansen himself announced
DeCSS on the LiVid-Mailinglist:

From: "Jon Johansen" <>
Subject: [Livid-dev] DeCSS 1.1b has been released
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 06:45:39 +0200

DeCSS is a css decryptor which works with 'the Matrix',
something DoD's speed ripper doesn't.

Derek got his hands on the source, and announced this interesting information:

From: Derek Fawcus <>
Subject: Re: [Livid-dev] DeCSS 1.1b has been released
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 19:49:25 +0100

I've just read through the source to DeCSS, compare CSSauth.cpp to
css-auth.c in my authentication package.

The authors have taken it almost verbatim - all they did was remove
my copyright header, one block comment, and rename the functions.
I don't mind them using the code - it's out there, but they could have
left my name on it.

Interesting this - I only released that file under GPL!

So, DeCSS was a clear break of GPL! So much for a guy who got his legal
defense paid by the EFF because he wanted to support Linux...

This incident got the linux dvd people of course upset on Jon Johansen.
He was emailed and informed that under the GPL he is obligated to release
the source code too. He simply refused that in his response and stated
that linux was a bad os and he wishes it would had never been released(!).
So much for a guy who pretends to be a linux supporter.

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 23:36:03 +0200
From: "Jon Johansen" <>
Subject: Re: [Livid-dev] DeCSS 1.1b has been released

> And: The Open Source model does not work on a "give me that and i
> will give you this" model. You should maybe first find out, what
> the meaning of GPL and the open source idea is, before talking to
> me in such a rude way. If Linus Torvalds has speaked in a way like
> you, Linux wouldn't even exist today.

And about linux and Linus Torvald, I wish that would have happened.
FreeBSD is a far superior OS compared to linux.

Jon Johansen later tried to play down this mail:

From: "Jon Johansen" <>
Subject: [Livid-dev] I am sorry...
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 02:33:57 +0200

And I might have overdone it a bit when I said I didn't care if linux
would not have been invented. It's a great OS, but of course not in all
ways, but that's how it is with all operating systems.

PS: If I could just get some hollywood plus drivers for linux, I would
probably be setting up my own linux machine in the living room :P

So this great supporter of linux, who told you that he didn't released
for linux sole for technical reasons (which were proven untrue above)
didn't even had a machine running linux!

Jon Johansen sent some other mails to the LiVid-Mailinglist showing his
true attitude toward free software and the GPL:

From: "Jon Johansen" <>
Subject: Re: [Livid-dev] DeCSS 1.1b has been released
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 20:21:53 +0200

In case you didn't know, WE had already sent the css decryption source
to our connection in the linux community. So why don't you just shut up?
That means we have shared with the once who shared with us. You didn't
get anything; shouldn't be too hard to figure out why....

So Jon redeclared the GPL. You aren't obligated to publish your
modification in the public, you just give them to the original author.
And if you are not nice to him (and give him something), you get nothing.
Nice try.

From: "Jon Johansen" <>
Subject: Re: [Livid-dev] DeCSS 1.1b has been released
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 23:36:03 +0200

We would never release the source to everyone. It has been released to
Derek who knows how to handle it, and when to release which parts of it.
I trust him, and I am sure he will release what's needed, at the most
convenient point. If you have trouble with that, then go reverse engineer
css yourself.

Oh, this guy really wanted to help the linux community? How? Releasing
binary only module for CSS decoding? Or how should the linux community
use his CSS hack without the source?

That we finally got the DeCSS source despite his plans to not release
it, was the result of Jons own mistakes. He left a copy of the source
code public available on his webserver.

From: Ted Milker <>
Subject: [Livid-dev] DeCSS source
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 18:35:44 -0500

The DeCSS source code is available on the DeCSS homepage at:

After this posting Jon fast removed the source code, but i have downloaded
it from there (Ted informed me in IRC before he posted this), it was
there. And it contained the GPL code claimed above, with the copyright
removed. So DeCSS was a clear violation of GPL.

Finally the DeCSS source was released after this, because there were no
other options left (the source had already leaked, and the GPL required

I hope after reading this summary of authentic emails and my firsthand
observations you rethink what you thought about Jon Johansen. He is
not the good guy he likes to describe himself (which helped get free
legal advise etc.).

He didn't wanted to support the Linux community, he has used GPL code
and broke the GPL himself and after all he has a very bad attitude.

I repeat: I don't think all the legal hassle to Jon regarding DeCSS is
good, but he is definitely not the matyr he was made by the public.

cryptus - 2000/11/27   


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