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Inforights Coalition Unites To Protest Hacker Arrest

by Evan Prodromou (evan [at] prodromou.san-francisco.ca.us)
A coalition of information rights activists has united to protest the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov under the DMCA law at Adobe Systems global headquarters in San Jose, CA
A loose coalition of cypherpunks, cyberrights groups, Free Software
activists, hacker organizations, and civil rights advocates have
united under the umbrella of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF)
to protest the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov on July
16th by the FBI in Las Vegas.

Dmitry Sklyarov, an employee of ElcomSoft of Moscow, is the author of
a software utility called Advanced eBook Processor. The AEPR allows
legitimate purchasers of a digital book format called eBooks to
exercise their fair use rights (such as making backup copies or
reading eBooks on a Linux machine) with eBook files. These rights are
normally impeded by the eBook security system.

Adobe Systems, makers of the eBook, filed a complaint with the FBI
about Sklyarov under the criminal section of the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act (DMCA). Based on this complaint, the FBI arrested Dmitry
in Las Vegas on July 16th. Sklyarov had given a presentation at
Defcon, a convention for security experts, hackers, and cyberrights
groups in Las Vegas, about weaknesses in the security system of the
Adobe eBook platform.

More coverage of the Sklyarov arrest and information about the legal
foundations of the DMCA can be found here:

http://www.planetebook.com/mainpage.asp?MenuID=2&WebPageID=1

Concerned cyberrights activists have concentrated around an email list
called free-sklyarov
(http://zork.net/mailman/listinfo/free-sklyarov/). Within days, they
have organized a world-wide network of protests scheduled for Monday,
July 23rd, 2001. Held outside Adobe Systems' offices, US federal
buildings, and US embassies, the protests will raise public awareness
of the issues in the case and demand action from Adobe and the US
government to free Dmitry Sklyarov and drop all charges.

Already, demonstrations have been scheduled for San Francisco,
Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Moscow, Boston, and other cities. In the Bay
Area, protesters will be meeting in downtown San Jose at 11:00AM and
march to Adobe Systems global headquarters. There, they will demand
that Adobe withdraw its complaint and refrain from filing similar
complaints under the DMCA.

More information on the Free Sklyarov protests in San Jose and
elsewhere is available here:

http://www.eff.org/alerts/20010719_eff_sklyarov_alert.html

Fair use, an important doctrine in US copyright law that allows
purchasers of copyrighted material limited rights to quote and archive
information, has been continually eroded by the DMCA in recent
years. Notable cases include the RIAA vs. Napster and the MPAA
vs. 2600 Magazine. Those cases, however, were civil suits between
industry groups and individuals. It is believed that Sklyarov's is
only the second case under the DMCA criminal sections, which went into
effect in October of 2000.

Sklyarov has been held without bail and is out of contact with his
family in Russia. He is currently in transit to the jurisdiction of
the Northern California US Attorney, where the complaint was filed.
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