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Sklyarov Indicted 810

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-to-the-states dept.
Nutcase was the first to write with news from the AP that "Dmitry Sklyarov, 27 and ElComSoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow were charged with five counts of copyright violations for writing a program that lets users of Adobe Systems' eBook Reader get around copyright protections imposed by electronic-book publishers." Here's a link to the AP story at the Washington Post. Here is the story at Salon as well. Update: 08/29 01:57 AM GMT by T : Here's the EFF's release on the indictment, too -- including information about where to go if you'd like to demonstrate your reaction publicly.
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Sklyarov Indicted

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  • Too bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tin Weasil (246885) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @09:50PM (#2228081) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't it have been nice if ebook technology had been around when Ben Franklin instituted the first Libraries in the U.S.? Franklin could have been indited too!
    • Didn't you hear? He was a traitor to the British crown, and under sentence of death for his part in revolutionary activities.

      We sure could use him right about now.

      -jcr
  • Elcomsoft!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Linux Freak (18608)
    How the hell can Elcomsoft be indicted for breaking a U.S. copyright law when that firm is in RUSSIA!?
    • Re:Elcomsoft!? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chrisvdp74656 (448900)
      Easily. Everybody knows that the US Laws are applicable all over the world!

      [/sarcasm]

      Sorry, I needed to get that off my chest. IANAL, but I dont think they can, legally. They can only nab everybody involved eith Elcomsoft as they pass through the US (and that includes international flights). Skylarov had the misfortune to be the first.
    • The same way they've done it in the past, with companies like DeBeers (the diamond people). They can't go over there and do anything, but if any representative of Elcomsoft (or DeBeers, for that matter) steps foot in America, they can be arrested and charged on behalf of their company.
    • Treaties [eff.org].

      From Merriam-Webster [m-w.com]:

      a contract in writing between two or more political authorities (as states or sovereigns) formally signed by representatives duly authorized and usually ratified by the lawmaking authority of the state.

  • The indictment alleges that the programmer and the company conspired for "commercial advantage and private financial gain."

    We should be hanging everyone who is guilty of these things.
  • "ElcomSoft was culpable because it sold the program for $99 in the United States through an online payment service based in Issaquah, Wash., and with a Web site hosted in Chicago."

    ...Don't host in the states. Rackspace Europe? Verio AsiaPacific?

    Dave
    • I hate to play devils advocate, but the moral of the story isn't "Don't host in the US." it's "Don't host in the US if you plan on breaking US law."
      Whether or not we agree with the laws, there is a big difference between the two morals.

      • Re:Not exactly (Score:2, Insightful)

        by S. Allen (5756)
        The moral of the story is that with enough money, you can craft your own law. The moral of the story is also that our lawmakers neither "get it" nor do they care. Until their polls tell them they're on the wrong side of the issue, expect more corporate-sponsored shackles on our hard-won freedoms (hard won by our ancestors, that is).

        Laws CAN be wrong. It's happened before (segregation, voting rights, prohibition, etc) and it'll happen again. We sit by idly at our own peril.
  • 5 criminal charges against him!? I see about 3: trafficing software that violates DMCA, selling software that violates DMCA (which is his company, not him). Ok, so it's two. Little help please?

    Has the court posted the pdfs of today's proceedings anywhere?
    • Re:5 counts? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FredGray (305594)
      OK, so I just read the indictment. There is one charge of "Conspiracy to Traffic in Technology Primarily Designed to Circumvent, and Marketed for Use in Circumventing, Technology that Protects a Right of a Copyright Owner." There then follow four nearly identical charges of actually "Trafficking" in such technology, one for each copy of the e-book processor software sold in the U.S.A.

      That's right, friends. Apparently they think they can send you to prison for five years for EACH COPY of infringing software that you sell (plus one for "conspiracy"). It doesn't take long to build up a life sentence that way...

  • Where's my checkbook?

    It's time to make anothe donation to the EFF [eff.org].

    Seriously, each and every one of us should make a small donation to the EFF so we can fight this miscarriage of justice. We don't have to put up with bad laws! Just because Congress has been bought and paid for by the members of the MPAA, the RIAA, and the BSA doesn't mean we have to bend over and take it.

    This DMCA crap has got to be stopped.

    Besides, the EFF raid hats are really cool.
    • I know it's not much, but my $300 just got sent to the EFF. What a small sacrifice in light of what's at stake for Dmitry, and our freedom.
  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056 @ y a h oo.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:02PM (#2228135) Homepage Journal
    Now let's all concentrate on getting the guy home to his wife and kids, and not use him to further our political ends. If someone volunteers to be a test case for the FSF or others, that's fine; he did not, and is a unwitting victim of our police state.

  • No surprise here... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kcbrown (7426)
    But to see why, you have to first know the reason the DMCA exists to begin with. I talk about that here [slashdot.org].

    Now, it's important to realize that the corporations behind the DMCA want to use it as a terror weapon. How else can you prevent people from creating and trafficking in copyright circumvention devices (software or otherwise)? A law which nobody behaves is a useless law. But a terror weapon isn't effective if people don't believe you'll use it.

    If the prosecution were to drop this case, it would make it clear that the DMCA is a law that the government isn't willing to enforce (after all, if they're not going to enforce it against a foreign national, what chance is there that they'll enforce it against a U.S. citizen?).

    So they'll take this case as far as the defense is willing to go, hoping that the defense runs out of resources or time before this gets to the Supreme Court.

    And trust me, the government will put a lot of money and resources into this case. They want to get and keep a conviction as long as possible, because that's what the government's masters (the corporations) want. so expect to see this case drag on for years, if not decades.

  • we all figured on this happening, right? now, if he's *convicted*, that'll suck.

    - A.P.
  • This make my blood curdle. This man has a wife and two children. He is a guest of the United States of America. And he has been put in jail to await prosecutions for what?! - talking to a group of computer professionals about the weaknesses inherent to particular encryption technologies!

    The "freedom" we love to chatter about is not merely an abstraction, an interesting conversation at a summer BBQ, a fly in the ointment of our libertarian campaigns. Freedom is real. Dmitry's children can't see their father. He's been branded a criminal. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Give Dmitry freedom! Give him freedom in a country founded on the principle of freedom!

    If Dmitry is not freed, I propose that everyone with the capability of shutting down an email server do so upon his conviction.
  • by phoenix_orb (469019) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:12PM (#2228178)
    Why, in this country of supposed freedom, do we allow companies to control not only specific markets, (in the case of Micro$oft monopoly) but also allow them to lobby towards laws that take away freedoms, such as freedom of speech.

    I know that ElComSoft Co. Ltd made mistakes when they started selling a program designed to defeat a specific type of encryption. I feel that this is wrong. Unfortunately, arresting a programer for giving a speech about how he broke the encryption is hogwash as well. (did I really say hogwash...)

    This country (the USA) was founded upon ideals that one man can speak his mind, and express himself in whatever way that he chooses, as so long as it doesn't detriment others. (thus, yelling "fire" in a theater is wrong) I see no reason why showing an encryption to be faulty and how to circumvent it AS A ACADEMIC STUDY wrong. As I said before, I think that the company was at fault, but can the "oh so mighty" hand of the US touch a company in Russia? Nope, we can't, at least legally anyway. So the goverment uses a poorly worded law to push the corporate views on American people. What will be next? Will I be arrested because I point out a security hole in Microsoft's hotmail site? No, but if I start selling a product that will allow it's user's to read other's email, I can and I should be arrested. I don't believe that Sklyarov ownes this company, he is just a programmer.

    This person has been arrested for violation of the DMCA. I don't believe in the DMCA, and unfortunately, I cannot make my congressman or senator understand why. (The breaking of encryption is over their heads, and copyrights and patents lasting forever is very vague to them as well.) They are too pressured my lobbyists throwing bags of money at them to listen to something that would blackball them in the lobbyists eyes. So what happens? More rights are taken away from all Americans, and 85% or more of Americans don't know of don't care.

    It is a sad state.

    Ben Franklin ( I think ) said that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance." But Americans have become to apathetic to even care about there government, much less the actions that the government has been taking. And because of this more and more skewed laws have worked there way in the the US Code. Sadly, today, they could arrest almost anyone with the inordinate amount of laws on the books. They chose here and now to arrest Mr. Sklyarov. I hope that he wins, and I hope that the court system invalidates this very askew law. It would help put more freedom back into the individuals hand, and away from the greedy corporate entity.

    • I see no reason why showing an encryption to be faulty and how to circumvent it AS A ACADEMIC STUDY wrong.

      I don't think I've ever seen a more grammatically challenged sentence containing the word "academic."

      In general, though, I agree with what you're saying. We're allowed to give speeches about how to make nuclear weapons in our garage, how to pick locks, how to have sex with dogs and just about anything else, but a man who gives a speech about a mathematical algorithm goes to jail.

    • What will be next? Will I be arrested because I point out a security hole in Microsoft's hotmail site? No, but if I start selling a product that will allow it's user's to read other's email, I can and I should be arrested.

      Why should you be arrested even then? It's good that you can see how wrong it is for Skylarov to be indicted for a speech, but you've still let the government brainwash you a bit.

      You should be arrested if you break in to a computer with malice of forethought and read other people's email. You should not be arrested if you: talk about how to break in, create a tool to break in, distribute a tool capable of breaking in. All of those things are protected by free speech, whether the government currently realizes it or not.
    • Ben Franklin ( I think ) said that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

      "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is the natural manure."
      - Thomas Jefferson

      Might Dmitry be one of those patriots? Just food for thought.

  • by bigpat (158134) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:14PM (#2228190)
    The software doesn't "get around copyright protections." Copyright is a legal protection, the software merely allows you to get around copy protections. Does anyone else think the difference is important?
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      Does anyone else think the difference is important?

      Well, lurking on slashdot, there are a few of us who believe the battleground is the language employed. But we learn that the typical slashdot thread is not hospitable to arguments based on nuance and subtlety... that's why we can have a hundred messages arguing whether "piracy is evil or a right", but not one decrying the arrogation of the word "piracy" to apply to a markedly non-violent crime (copyright infringement).


      Yield the language and you yield the war... but it doesn't seem to make much headway here.

  • Here's the EFF's release on the indictment, too -- including information about where to go if you'd like to demonstrate your reaction publicly.

    Has anyone here ever been to one of these protests? I attended an EFF protest of the DMCA in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. It was scheduled for noon, but I was busy then, so I showed up around 2:30 pm. Nobody was there. No sign of a protest, no signs, nada. Later a friend of mine who was there said they left around 2, because they were tired. That's perhaps the sorriest excuse for a protest I've ever heard. I'm sure they left a lasting impression on society.

  • by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:23PM (#2228233) Homepage

    Young man,
    there's no need to feel down
    Because your plane
    back home can't get off the ground
    I said young man,
    Get comfy in your new town
    There's no need to be unhappy.

    Young man,
    There's no place you can go
    I said young man,
    Until you cough up some dough
    You will stay here
    until you've served all your time
    For your insignificant crime.

    It's fun to stay in the U S of A,
    Because of that old grand D M C A
    For cracking DVD's,
    Or an e-book or three,
    You'll get jailed for eterniteeeee...

    It's fun to stay in the U S of A
    Because of that old grand D M C A
    For proving to the world
    That our encryption's a toy
    You'll get jailed with all the boyyyyyyys...

  • If they aren't, why the hell aren't they?!!? It was Skylarov under their employ writing the program. So you're telling me that if I write a program for my company that violates some stupid law in some other country, I cannot ever hope to go to that country under fear of prosecution?

    If he did it solely and entirely to make a financial gain, then sure I can see this case having a point. But without that, it's entirely pointless.

    But luckily, if this case goes to a jury (which I believe that with penalties like that it must go to a jury) they will never convict. There is no way that any group of 12 people could unanimously send a father to prison for 5 years because he wrote a program for his employer that, really, does jack all. How many e-books are there? What does this program really affect ??? This guy has done practically nothing. It's like arresting me for dropping a piece of paper out of my pocket and sticking me in prison for 5 years for "defacing public property" or something stupid like that. This is overkill to the nth degree.

    Sorry, but this just gets me all wound up again.

    Mind you, it was no surprise that they indicted. There was no way that they were not going to indict, but lets hope to God that this insanity stops before it gets to court, and that if it does get that far that they won't convict. Maybe then I'll still believe that the USA has at least a shred of hope...
    • All a Grand Jury hears is what the Prosecutor wants them to hear. It's not a trial, but merely the prosecution's presentation of their prima facie case - witnesses mostly, maybe hard evidence.

      It's an old saying around courthouses that a Prosecutor can get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich.

      The trial won't be so one-sided, one hopes.

    • It was Skylarov under their employ writing the program. So you're telling me that if I write a program for my company that violates some stupid law in some other country, I cannot ever hope to go to that country under fear of prosecution?


      Sklyarov (note the spelling), not Elcomsoft, was the copyright holder for the program. Therefore he was not merely working for Elcomsoft. In fact, Elcomsoft was working for him (as a distributor). In reality the distinction may be minor, but legally it may turn out to be a key issue in the case.

  • by Cerlyn (202990) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:24PM (#2228240)

    I have never seen anything to date that said Sklyarov himself was involved with the Ebook decoder project. Just being with a company that did illegal things is not illegal in itself; otherwise we would arrest all their janitors and secretaries.

    Even if he did work on the Ebook project, he could claim that he did not knowingly do anything wrong since (1) it was not illegal work in Russia and (2) it work done solely for a Russian company. While claiming ignorance of the law is no excuse, I don't see how a jury could convict him directly given these facts.

    That being said, shouldn't the United States be going after the company's officers (CEO, etc.), and not Sklyarov?

    • The FBI claims that Sklyarov is the copyright holder and that being the copyright holder makes him the responsible party. Elmsoft denies that Sklyarov is the copyright holder.

      Which makes me wonder, if I were a pornographer from say, Amsterdam, and I used 16 year old models in my work (legal), and I sold distribution rights for one of my copywritten works to a 3rd party who then tried to resell the work in the US (illegal), would they be content to lock up the seller and throw away the key, or would they feel the need to go after me as well?

      Are copyright holders now obliged to monitor any party that they sell rights to and somehow revoke rights if that party violates some law somewhere?

      Does this mean that I can purchase the rights to do a public screening of "Dirty Dancing" and then show it in Afganistan and some representative of the movie studio would be extradited to Kabul and tried by the Taliban?

      It's madness.

    • Its nice to see that US corporate officers and employees can cower behind the corporate shield for liability but the DMCA can put blame on one man and violate his first amendment right to speech at the same time?

      Second, Adobe chose to invoke the DMCA demon, tipped law enforment to the speech, and is part of this big propaganda/scare tactic. They chose NOT to go the way of a civil lawsuit. They wanted this gestapo crap and since they've gotten what they wanted they just bowed out and left everyone bitching about the evil DMCA and not the coporations that bought it and use it.

      Where's the big adobe boycott? The DMCA can be overturned at any moment, but business tactics like these will stick around if they think they can get away with it and right now they are getting away with it.
  • Not suprising (Score:2, Interesting)

    I hate to say this, but the grand jury indictment doesnt suprise me one bit. As much as we hate it, the DMCA is the law. And there's plenty of evidence that Dmitry violated the DMCA. Right now the most important thing is to get Dmitry home to his family right now. If that sets a precedent for the DMCA, that's great, but let's not make Dmitry a martyr at his own expense (yes I realize that's an oxymoron). The DMCA can be challenged later, probably in the Supreme Court. Unfortunatly, this means that there will have to be more and more Sklyarov/Felton/2600-esque cases untill the DMCA is gone for good.
  • But I sincerely hope that the EFF will use the power of public support to push the feds for a plea bargain with no jail time, or just deportation maybe. I'm not a lawyer, and I definitely despise the DMCA and support Dimitry, but with the site that was hosted in the US and the fact that Elcomsoft was profiting from this, I don't think that this is a winnable case. Ethics and common sense are on our side, and I believe the Felten case is very strong, but I believe Dimitry would be convicted simply because a judge's reaction will go something like 'right or wrong, the law is the law.' Or maybe I've just been watching too much Law & Order.
  • From the Salon article:

    The indictment alleges that the programmer and the company conspired for "commercial advantage and private financial gain."

    So this is now a crime? When will we see Microsoft hauled in on this charge then? Or Adobe? Or any for-profit entity for that matter?

    By the way, the original subject of this post was "This is illegal?!!", but I had to change it because of the "postersubj compression filter". Note to CmdrTaco et al: Your dumbass lameness filters are broken. They don't stop trolls and ASCII art, and they annoy legitimate posters. Either fix them or get rid of them. Or at least put a meaningful error message in there. "Postersubj compression filter" doesn't yield much of a clue as to what's wrong unless one wants to slog through the morass of Slashcode to find out what triggered the message. And I don't.

  • by cnkeller (181482)
    I realize the indictment is not the fault of Adobe, but I still feel they are responsible for initiating this stupid mess. Although if we get the DMCA repealed it will have been worth it. Pity it takes the incarceration of a foreign national to make the US step back and take a look at our laws. You'd think we could do it ourselves.

    At any rate, I'm considering initiating a personal/cororate boycott of Adobe products, including PDF. I've fought long and hard to replace word documention with PDF (word isn't suited for technical docs anyway). Is there a good replacement for PDF? PostScript? Before anyone shouts something wierd like TeX or DVI; be serious, that may work in a lab or research group, but not for coporate america.

    • by jmv (93421)
      In almost all cases I prefer PostScript to PDF. Not that much for the format itself, but because ghostscript/ghostview/gv is 100x faster than Acrobat Reader. The other advantage is that you can produce Postscript from any application (in the worst case, you just need a Windows postscript printer driver) without paying Adobe a dime.
      • In almost all cases I prefer PostScript to PDF. Not that much for the format itself, but because ghostscript/ghostview/gv is 100x faster than Acrobat Reader. The other advantage is that you can produce Postscript from any application (in the worst case, you just need a Windows postscript printer driver) without paying Adobe a dime.

        Dude, PDF is Postscript. Try opening a PDF in ghostview. It works fine.
    • Of course it is Adobe's fault. They requested that he be arrested but not be prosecuted. Unfortunately they can't stop the government, Dmitry will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

      Adobe should at least accept responibility for their actions and pay Sklyarov's legal bills.

      Yes, I said that. Adobe intended to slap his wrist and instead dropped him into the meat grinder. He is suffering more hardship than they intended. They are at the very least responsible for his legal bills and some sort of compensation for his detention in the US. (I assume Dmitry is not allowed to work to support his family while he in the US.)
  • by kypper (446750) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:36PM (#2228290)
    Consider that this would seriously irritate Russia, who isn't too pleased with the United States as it is.


    Consider too that many of the best minds are not from America, and this sort of bullshit will easily dissuade them from ever touching on American soil.


    The DCMA and disgustingly similar concepts are going to box the United States in, and slowly but utterly stagnate it.


    Summary:

    Prosecution for Speaking (thought police) =

    Fewer bright citizens immigrating (or just plain aiding) for fear of prosecution =

    Fewer innovations in the USA =

    The eventual demise of an empire.


    Quite the leap, but you know... I ain't the only one saying it.


    • I have a somewhat bleaker picture than
      simply the "eventual demise of an empire".

      The eroding of the constitutional framework
      brings heavy responsibilites to the nation.
      It saddens me to realize that we will probably
      be fighting another civil war this century,
      because of the activities of the entertainment industry.

      At least the last civil war was brought about by
      something closer to life -- agriculture. Fighting for the constitution over *entertainment* will be disgusting, but we are
      required to do it.

    • > Consider too that many of the best minds are not from America, and this sort of bullshit will easily dissuade them from ever touching on American soil.

      Or how 'bout if America's best minds start emigrating?

      I need only say "Goodwin's Law" to point out the historical precedent. It may sound like a stretch, until you consider academic researchers withdrawing conference papers over fear of persecution.
      • Now wait a minute. We may have our problems, but at least the principles that this great country were founded on are still intact: individual rights, limited government, and a fair and equal justice for all.

        <ponder>

        All right. So much for that. So where's the next gig?
  • Perfect Target (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maul (83993) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:39PM (#2228300) Journal
    Unfortunately for Dmitry, he is a perfect target to be criminally prosecuted under the DMCA. I'm sure that the feds had many potential cases against domestic violators, but I think they chose Dmitry for a few reasons.


    First off, he isn't a US citizen. He is a visitor from a foreign country. This leaves him with fewer resources, fewer rights, and little understanding of the rights he does have.
    IANAL, and I don't know exactly what rights an accused foreigner has in the USA, but I'm sure that the feds are less inclined to play by the rules they have to when dealing with a citizen.


    Secondly, he isn't just any foreigner, he's Russian. If the general public is going to take notice of the DMCA, the feds want a good impression. Lots of people (sadly and surprisingly) still view the Russians as "the enemy" and will view Dmitry as an "evil communist." Thus they might see the DMCA as something that fights the evil commies.


    This also might strike fear into citizens of other nations, and convey the message that no country is as powerful as the US, which will FIND a way to subject everyone world wide to its laws.


    As a Citizen of the US, I am very angry about this. Dmitry should be freed and sent home immediately, and then the White House should send an apology to the Russians for this behavior.
    I know that they'd demand the same for one of our citizens cought up in a BS situation like this in another country.

    • Re:Perfect Target (Score:2, Informative)

      by psych031337 (449156)

      First off, he isn't a US citizen. He is a visitor from a foreign country. This leaves him with fewer resources, fewer rights, and little understanding of the rights he does have.
      IANAL, and I don't know exactly what rights an accused foreigner has in the USA, but I'm sure that the feds are less inclined to play by the rules they have to when dealing with a citizen.

      Please take a look at http://www.thedailycamera.com/news/worldnation/28a cort.html for a recent case of the US authorities denying rights of "alien" citizens. In this case the right to consular advice has been denied, and also declined postponing the execution of the convicts. The UN court actually found the Americans *guilty*. If you find this disturbing or hard to believe, feel free to search google with the terms "us deny consular rights". Quite a bunch of results. Granted, these people were convicted of murder, but this makes it a more clever stunt to me. If they were engaged in a "victimless crime" the american masses might have cried out. But in a murder case...


      This also might strike fear into citizens of other nations, and convey the message that no country is as powerful as the US, which will FIND a way to subject everyone world wide to its laws.

      Well, power stems from the barrel of a gun, it is said. The United States are always very prone to show theirs. No matter who is/was president.


      As a Citizen of the US, I am very angry about this. Dmitry should be freed and sent home immediately, and then the White House should send an apology to the Russians for this behavior.

      A beautiful thought at all. But unfortunately it won`t happen. Even admitting that they were just *a very little bit wrong* might draw reimbursement claims from Dmitry, Elcomsoft, Russia, probably all thinking forms of homo sapiens.


      I know that they'd demand the same for one of our citizens cought up in a BS situation like this in another country.

      If this was an american sitting in a dark russian jail exposed to killers and the risk of catching tuberculosis, they'd already have an armed-to-the-death rescue squad standing by.

      This is just purely insane. Wrong as the Berlin wall. And probably nothing you can do to avoid or eliminate it...

  • Where's the ACLU? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:41PM (#2228308) Homepage Journal

    I questioned early on whether the ACLU would risk their hollywood gravy train by coming out in support of Sklyarov. Several Slashdot posters indicated they would use the feedback page [aclu.org] to see why the ACLU was totally silent (try searching for "Sklyarov" -- absolutely nothing). Still nothing, though.

    Those of you who are ACLU supporters should take careful note of this.

    • by NMerriam (15122)
      I questioned early on whether the ACLU would risk their hollywood gravy train by coming out in support of Sklyarov

      That's okay, they ignore the whole second amendment, too. They're slowly paring down the amount of the bill of rights to expend energy defending, apparently...
    • For whatever reason, the ACLU [aclu.org] hasn't really gotten involved in much online stuff (with the notable exception of their lead in fighting the Communications Decency Act). Perhaps it's because they don't understand the issues; perhaps it's because they feel comfortable leaving the work to others; perhaps it's because they have only finite resources. The ACLU is also notorious for only taking on cases that they feel they can win.

      Even though they're (much to my dismay) not taking any initiaitive on Dmitry's case, the ACLU is still doing a number of other wonderful things and still deserves your support. See their webpage for more info.

  • Had a hell of a time getting this past the lamness filter. But here is a link [google.com] to a post on alt.ascii-art regarding this case
  • If you're at LinuxWorld or just in or near SF, it's tomorrow night. Stallman and Lessig are speaking, free beer, music, representatives from the EFF an FSF, and plenty of opportunities to donate, join the EFF, etc.. See you there.

    Here's the web page. [allseer.com]
  • please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vena (318873)
    spend the time you'd be writing the same things you said last time news on dmitry was posted here writing to your congressman or attending/organizing rallies.

    less talk, more action.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @10:52PM (#2228355)
    Citizens, attend.

    You are seeing the creation of the new drug war. You can expect to see the following features of DW-I in instant replay
    • criminalization of perfectly ethical behavior that powerful segments of society happen not to approve of,
    • draconian penalties for these supposed crimes,
    • justification of this nonsense on the basis of huge ass-pulled numbers purporting to show how much damage the "crime" is doing to the economy,
    • legislators and public prosecutors fanning the fire to further their careers,
    • courts that will set aside your traditional freedoms because the wankers in the FBI can't get their convictions in a free society,
    • ultimately, absolutely no impact on the behavior that Drug War II was supposed to control, and
    • a new eco-niche for genuine crime, created by the new legal system and exploited by punks who will ultimately be the next generation's Organized Crime (cf. prohibition, Drug War I).
    Fear for your freedoms.
    • I don't think it will be quite the scale as the Drug War, but this is not a bad analogy. Foreign nations with less draconian laws/enforcement will be used to traffic "illegal information". Illegal information networks will form to avoid the law (e.g., Gnutella, Freenet). The US will pressure other nations to get in line.



      Not a bad analogy at all.

      • Actually, you are correct, it will not scale to the Drug War; it will be much, much bigger and will never end.

        "It's the information, Marty. It's who controls the information..."

        Ideas and writings are going to become corporate property, and the copyrights will never expire.

        The future is your face, with a fat lawyer stamping on it, endlessly.

    • Quite unusual... If this is the next Drug War, and the next generation of organized crime, then the Norwegians (DeCSS), of all people, have a leg up...

      "You gonna pay Fadda Svetlander or you wanna dip in the Lutefisk vat?"

      I find your idea here compelling. I guess it means dorks like me will be badass or something... cool!

    • I've long predicted the new war, and christened it Prohibition III.
      Welcome to my future.

    • the blacklists will be turned inside out and a walled city will be formed within the bowels of the net.

      a members-only group of users, with all traffic running strongly encrypted, with the source obscured via a mechanism like crowds. it's viable, and it's becoming neccessary.

  • by A Commentor (459578) on Tuesday August 28, 2001 @11:07PM (#2228406) Homepage
    The news.com site also covered the story. [cnet.com]
  • Fair use is dead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Colin Simmonds (4017)

    Well, it seems to be official. Fair use in the U.S. is dead. Look at what the indictment boils down to:

    When an ebook purchased for viewing in the Adobe eBook Reader format was sold by the publisher or distributor, the publisher or the distributor of the ebook could authorize or
    limit the purchaser's ability to copy, distribute, print, or have the text read audibly by the computer [emphasis mine]. Adobe designed the Ebook Reader to permit the management of such digital rights so that in the ordinary course of its operation, the eBook Reader effectively permitted the publisher or distributor of the ebook to restrict or limit the exercise of certain copyright rights of an owner of the copyright for an ebook distributed in the eBook Reader format.
    On a date prior to June 20, 2001, defendant Dmitry Sklyarov and others wrote a program called the Advanced eBook Processor ("AEBPR") the primary purpose of which was to remove any and all limitations on an ebook purchaser's ability to copy, distribute, print, have the text read audibly by the computer, or any other limitations imposed by the publisher or distributor of an ebook in the eBook Reader format, as well as certain other ebook formats.

    Note that the indictment clearly indicates that AEBPR is only useful to purchasers of ebooks in Adobe's format, so there can be no allegation of it being used for widespread piracy. Instead, Sklyarov's apparent crime is to allow people to actually use the ebooks they've bought and paid for. Of the items enumerated as being restrictable by the publisher or distributor, only distribution is forbidden by copyright law prior to the DMCA, and then only when the fair use exemptions don't apply. It seems rather overreaching to me that the DMCA criminalizes being able to do such ordinary actions with an ebook such as having the computer read it aloud or print it, let alone making copies for backup or use on another machine.

    Note also that the indictment makes no mention of the AEBPR being used to violate copyright law. No evidence is offered that any of the handful of its purchasers used the program for any illegal purpose. The mere fact that it allows the purchaser full use of a bought ebook and the theoretical possibility of commiting an act (unpermitted distribution) which is already illegal under century old copyright law, is reason enough to send a man to jail for 25 years. Scary.

    And publishers wonder in vain why ebooks aren't selling very well? Gee, if you don't let the purchaser do anything with them, making ebooks far more restricted and less useful than print books, and totally upset the balance between public and private interests enshrined in copyright law, you should expect this. Indeed, I'm frightened that ebooks have sold as well as they have. The freedoms and rights associated with reading seem to no longer apply in the digital world if the interests that bought the DMCA have their way.

    • I'm not sure where you block quote comes from, I assume from the indictment text?

      If so, it appears that the prosecutor is deliberatly casting the case in terms that will allow the defense to challenge and break the DMCA.

      The law will stand until a judge declares it invalid. The first step in that process is for the prosecutor to charge someone with the law. Dmitry is being charged in a very favorable light. No emphasis about how the unprotected books could then be published illegally. Equal weight is given to the three legitimate uses. (copying, printing, and text to speech.)

      Someone with a very fine sense of how that district works should read that indictment and see what is between the lines.
  • This is cool... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dlugar (124619)

    Never have I seen such negative speaking of the DMCA from a "real" news source, even the Associated Press:

    San Jose-based Adobe Systems had complained to the FBI that Sklyarov's employer was selling a program that let users manipulate Adobe's e-book software so the books could be read on more than one computer or transferred to someone else.

    Is it just me, or is that the most neutral, almost pro-Sklyarov paragraph you've ever seen? It even continues:

    The program is legal in Russia. Sklyarov's supporters say his work merely restores the "fair use" privileges consumers have traditionally enjoyed under U.S. copyright law. Adobe dropped its support of the case on July 23.

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.


    Dlugar
  • emailing protest? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by psych031337 (449156)
    So, after the arrest Adobe got email-bombed by us guys (&gals) trying to voice our protest (see http://www.boycottadobe.com or .org - too lazy to check)

    As it seems now, the protest has to be taken to higher ranks in the legal system.

    Can anyone supply email adresses of the people involved? I mean lawyers, consulars, attorneys, judges, congresscritters, whatever?!

    I think about the only way this could lead to a conviction is the sheer ignorance of a lot of the involved people (see Microsoft Antitrust case). Well, ignorance can actually be a form of violence. And there is only one cure for it, so who can i tell what is going on, what the real-life analogy is, and how i am feeling about this (even as a foreign citizen... i think, i hope actually that every voice counts!)
  • by mlc (16290)
    The indictment itself is available as PDF from the US Department of "Justice" [usdoj.gov].
  • One would think in a civilized society, somone on the prosecution would stop for a second and actually think about what they are doing. They original plaintifs have since changed thier minds, the public (at least those who know about it) is against it, the man is not even a U.S. citizen! The case in completely unwinnable, and unworthy. At best it will get thrown out right away, at worst it will go all the way to the Supreme Court before getting struck down. Why can't the prosecution see that they are in a perfect lose-lose situation. They don't even have the moral imperative on thier side to keep going, becuase locking up somone for what amounts to thought crime is morally wrong.

    I realize this is ranting, but please, where is the glimmer of intelligence in these people that tells them to give up now?
  • It's just possible that the DoJ's stubornness on this is through a desire to have the DMCA overturned.

    Unless it causes harm it's hard to do, but the threat of harm may still cause damage.

    But this way they can get it dealt with quickly.

  • Ok, so the Feds find themselves in a tough position-- they've got to enforce this law that Adobe themselves say they don't want enforced.

    If they drop all the charges, this looks too obviously like they were just Adobe's bitches, a private police force at the beck and call of big business ("arrest him? Ok. Don't arrest him.. Ok.")

    If they do indict him mildly, they set up a situation where Dmitri's sentence might turn out to be enough of slap on the wrist that it's worth contesting on principle, and then this would surely become a test-case for the constitutionality of the entire law. Since they ARE bitches to big business, the government doesn't want this. If it's gonna be tested in court they'll want a more clear-cut case of some obviously evil megapirate somewhere, not a sympathetic programmer out to topple an unjust law.

    So what did they do? They decided to throw the book at him, pile up enough charges that it becomes a very high-stakes game for Dmitri personally. Dmitri will be intimidated (and rightly so) into negociating his way out of it. He's got nothing to gain from being a test case in a bad American law...and everything to lose.

    After the judge dismisses some charges along the way, Dmitri will likely plea-bargain his way down to probation or something and skip off to Russia shortly thereafter.

    The Feds look like they're not pussies, the law remains unchallenged, Dmitri gets a slap on the wrist, and the MPAA/RIAA's message is preserved: "Don't fuck with us. We WILL fuck with you."

    W
  • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @03:02AM (#2228978) Journal
    I guess I'll take this opportunity to link to this entry [smokedot.org] in my Smokedot diary. I encourage webmasters to read it, because I'd like some assistance.

    The short version: if you're a webmaster, and have pages on your site related to digital copyright issues - especially Sklyarov's case - check your logs for hits from the 198.25.0.0 - 198.26.255.255 netblock, which is controlled by NIPR (DoD Network Operations - a quick whois of 198.25.0.0@whois.arin.net will confirm this) containing a user agent of "Inktomi Search". A pair of machines at Kelly AFB in Texas with that user-agent have been the source of regular hits to my page on Sklyarov, about once a day. The hits are regular and targeted enough to convince me it's not a case of kiddiez spoofing, and I've had at least one report of very similar behaviour toward another site; targeted hits from a couple DoD boxen using a web spider. I'm doing some light investigation of the activity, and would be very interested in any logs documenting this type of behaviour.

    If nothing else, I'd love to know why DoD machines are being used to search for copyright-related pages.

    Side-note: some of the information I've gathered on NIPR implies that the group has constructed a firewall around the DoD workstations and servers; hence, any hits from NIPR.mil addresses may be the firewall/border routers and not the actual boxes performing the searches. However, at some point, DoD boxes are involved, and I'd like to know just what they're up to.
  • Law Confusion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @03:03AM (#2228979)
    IANAL
    Someone may have mentioned this before, but after reading the charges in the indictment, and referencing the applicable law (Title 17, Section(b)(1)(A)), it appears that inumerable people are guilty of this crime.

    "No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner..."

    To me there are a coupe details that leap out at me here. First the use of the words component and part. Software design is filled with reused parts and components. Does this mean the author of Tree.h commited a crime when his component object was used in the decryption software?

    Secondly, the phrase "effectively protects a right of a copyright owner" is unclear. If a person like Dmitri breaks an encryption scheme then that encryption scheme did not effectively protect the rights of the copy right owner.

    Finally, Fair Use (Title 17 Section 107) allows for the copy of copyrighted works for specific purposes. Since the Exclusive Rights (Title 17, Section 106) are "subject to Subject to section(s) 107", I don't see how his software violates any right. Under Fair Use Copyright owners do not have the right to prevent their work from being copied.

    Am I making some colossal error in my interpretation of these laws?

    Indictment: PDF [usdoj.gov]
    Copy Right Law: Cornel / US Code [cornell.edu]
  • by Arandir (19206) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @03:05AM (#2228984) Homepage Journal
    Okay, we've got protests getting organized left and right. I've received fundraising requests in my email. I see people up in arms and outraged with righteous indignation.

    Good for you.

    But where the hell were you guys for all the other crap going on in this country and all the rest? From the looks of things, you all act as if this were the first injustice ever perpetrated in history.

    In California our prisons are overflowing with those who got arrested, indicted, convicted and sentenced for nothing more than ingesting chemical substances. Unwittingly violating the DMCA is just one of hundreds of nonviolent acts that can land you in jail. Why do we only care about one of them?

    Let's free Sklyarov, but at the same time lets get all the other people convicted of nonviolent activities freed as well.
  • by HuskyDog (143220) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @05:29AM (#2229164) Homepage
    If a US citizen was arrested in Moscow for violating a Russian law whilst he was in the US then it would be the top story on CNN and Bush would be shouting down the phone at Mr Putin (spelling?).

    Why isn't the reverse happening now? My girlfriends (who speaks Russian) tells me that the case is being covered in the Russian press, but its very much a 1/4 column on page 6 type of story. Perhaps Russia wants the big US corporations to invest in their country and doesn't want to upset them?

    Anybody seen any comment from the Russian government?

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