by Mike Masnick

Reason For Leaving Last Job: Not Sued Fast Enough

from the so-sue-me dept

When "DVD Jon" Lech Johansen went to work for Michael Robertson last fall, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Robertson has done quite well for himself over the years with a strategy he seems to have perfected: find some technology that can completely undercut a legacy industry, launch it in a way that pisses off the existing players then (here's the important part) get sued. Getting sued has been Robertson's best marketing ploy. DVD Jon, of course, is also good at getting sued. The movie industry went after him for his involvement with the DeCSS code that helped get around DVD encryption (a lawsuit which Jon won). So, when Michael and Jon got together, it seemed only natural that whatever they cooked up was sure to get the entertainment industry lawyers busy. Of course, then came the disappointment when it looked like the two were collaborating on yet another online music locker -- something that's been done many times before, and didn't seem to need DVD Jon's special talents. Apparently Jon thought so as well and has moved on. He mentioned it on his own blog a few weeks ago, but now more people are noticing that Jon has left Robertson's employ to move to San Francisco and go to work for a company that seems right up his alley: DoubleTwist Ventures, which is working on "the reverse engineering of proprietary systems for which licensing options are non-existent or impractical." Now that ought to generate some fun lawsuits.

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  • identicon
    I, for one, 22 Jun 2006 @ 7:28pm

    No more heros?

    DVD Jon (what a great wide-boy tag) just goes up and up in my eyes. In this grey and depressing 1984/Gattaca type distopia the world is becomming there's still plenty of heros to look up to and admire. The PirateBay gang, BSDs Theo, and DVD Jon, I'd like to kiss^H^H^H^H buy those dudes a beer. Living proof that bowing your head, knuckling under and hoping for them to drop you a few crumbs is a one way ride to an early heart attack, an empoverished retirement after your job gets outsourced and a wasted life. Sticking it to the man with a big "fuck you", riding the wave of justified arrogant pride that comes with knowing what you are doing is moral and right and worthwhile, even when it goes against so called "laws" is coming back into fashion. Watch these boys and learn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||#, 22 Jun 2006 @ 7:33pm

    First Post

    If he went to live in the EU, then it may be legal to do this, since it is legal there to reverse engineer softwere for the purposes of file compatability. This is one of the few decent things about the EU, but it is very good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Clair Ching, 22 Jun 2006 @ 8:14pm

    Reverse engineering, lawsuits, etc.

    It takes some guts to do that in America. Sometimes I personally think that there is too much control by companies over how people use media. They already sell them the stuff. People can't help it if they want to share the media and in whatever format. I suppose this boils down to the need for companies to come up with better business models. Then it would also be legal to do reverse engineering and avoid lawsuits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe Smith, 22 Jun 2006 @ 8:35pm


    "It takes some guts to do that in America"

    So who says that he is doing it for an American audience?

    My guess would be that he is trying to break the ITunes code so that the Europeans will be able to continue to get music from there when Apple stops selling iPods in Europe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, 22 Jun 2006 @ 10:51pm


    You guys make it sound like not getting sued, or not stirring up enough trouble, was at the root of Jon's unhappiness while working with Robertson.

    It seems more likely that Jon just enjoys a challenge, especially the kind that comes from cracking other people's engineering. The kind of challenge you don't get building a lame music website.

    He would probably be a very happy man if he could work on what he loves, and never get sued again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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