'DVD Jon' Gets a Real Job

The Norwegian who became a hacker hero at age 15 will have to adjust to warmer winters.

Jon Lech Johansen (search), also known as "DVD Jon" for his work with software to crack copy-protection in DVDs, began work in San Diego this week at MP3tunes, the digital music service started in February by Michael Robertson (search), an iconoclast in his own right.

As a teenager, Johansen developed and posted software called DeCSS (search) to unlock the Content Scrambling System, or CSS, the film industry used on DVD movies to prevent illegal copying.

After the film industry complained, Norwegian authorities charged him with data break-in, but Johansen was acquitted at trial and on appeal.

He has since posted programs that circumvent the copy-protection technologies on Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes music software.

Johansen, 21, is working on a project at MP3tunes dubbed Oboe, which "will bring digital music into the 21st century," Robertson wrote on his Web site.

Johansen felt prospects were better in the United States than in Norway because the Nordic country is more focused on business software, Robertson wrote.

"He was familiar with my companies and writings and thought we shared a similar ideology," Robertson wrote.

Robertson's launched mp3.com in 1997, a venture that involved buying thousands of CDs and making them accessible in a central server. That led to a slew of litigation.

Robertson founded Lindows Inc. in 2001 to sell distributions of the open-source Linux operating system. Last year, he changed the company's name to Linspire after getting $20 million from Microsoft Corp. to settle a trademark infringement suit.