The Jury is in on the Elcomsoft Trial
When Dmitry Sklyarov, a programmer employed by the Russian software firm Elcomsoft, was arrested by federal agents in July of 2001 for giving a speech in which he talked about how Adobe's eBook content could be copied, a series of nationwide protests followed, targeting Adobe offices and Federal Buildings.
Adobe quickly caved in to the pressure and issued a statement asking the government to drop all charges. The agents of the Federal Government decided to press charges for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act anyway, and Sklyarov continued to sit in jail. Eventually Sklyarov accepted a plea bargain in which he agreed to testify against his employer in exchange for his own freedom.
Under the DMCA, it is illegal to produce, publish, or (so it seems) discuss software that can be used to circumvent copyright protection. Dmitry Sklyarov is a Russian citizen, and Elcomsoft is a Russian company. Under Russian law, it is illegal to distribute software that cannot be backed up. The tool that Elcomsoft created is not only legal in Russia, it (or a similar tool) would be a required eBook add-on if any eBooks were actually distributed there because otherwise Russian citizens would have no way to back up their eBook data.
The Elcomsoft trial started two weeks ago and today the jury announced their verdict today. Elcomsoft HAS BEEN FOUND INNOCENT of digital copyright violation charges. Dmitry Sklyarov is STILL FREE. The DMCA has been dealt a serious blow. With any luck the excessively restrictive provisions of the DMCA, which in my opinion place unfair limits on fair use, free speech, and software development, will be struck down in the days and years to come.
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