This week MP3tunes added a new employee
- a Norwegian named Jon Lech
Johansen. He's half Polish - as you can probably tell from the "Lech"
in his name. Most people
know him as "DVD Jon" for the software he co-wrote when he was just 15
old that allowed DVD movies to play on his computer.
He endured two trials
over the DVD software. Although the trial
was in Norway, the legal case against him was orchestrated by
MPA, the European arm of the powerful U.S. movie organization called
MPAA. He willingly turned over the encryption key to unlock the
contents of his computer for the prosecution. They cross-examined
him for days on the stand using years of chat logs, out-of-context
emails and even smiley symbols in an attempt to paint him as a
technology gangster. Anyone who spends five minutes with Jon knows that
this characterization is not consistent with reality.
was ultimately acquitted. Unlike in the United States, which has a law
against "double jeopardy" where you cannot be tried twice for the same
crime, in Norway a prosecutor can file an appeal and put a defendant
through another trial - which they did. He was acquitted once again.
known Jon for a few years as an email acquaintance. I have always
admired his work and his strength to stand up for what
he believes is
right. He doesn't advocate piracy, but does advocate consumers' rights
manage their own purchased content. I told him that if he ever needed
my assistance to let me know.
few months back I got an email from him saying he wanted to move to
the United States. We arranged to talk and had a subsequent
conversation over Gizmo Project while he was in
Europe and I was in San Diego. During that call I learned that
he thought the opportunities for him to work on consumer projects -
specifically an audio project - were much better in the States than in
home country of Norway, which is much more focused on business
He was familiar with my companies
and thought we shared
a similar ideology.
to him, MP3tunes is in the midst of a
project called Oboe to
bring digital music into the 21st century. I knew he'd be a great fit
for the team, so I quickly extended him a job offer. It took a few
months to process the immigration paperwork, but now he's living in San
Diego and working on Oboe.
is the code name for a significant new project we have underway that
launch before the end of the year. It's as momentous as anything I've
ever done in my technical career, but I won't say more since I despise
know this project will be even better with Jon on board.
the Wall Street Journal ran a front page story
about Jon relocating to the United States. After that, he got plenty of
job offers from
some of the biggest names in the technology business. I talked to him
over lunch today and asked if he wanted to work at those other
companies. "Not really," he replied in a typical minimalist
Scandinavian-style reply, forcing me to ask why not. "I want to work on
which is why I came to you."
going to like Oboe and so will you. Stay tuned.
MichaelThe Michael's Minute Meter
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