August 30, 2001

EFF: Russian programmer and company plead not guilty

Author: JT Smith

Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov
and his employer Elcomsoft today pled not guilty to charges
of providing electronic book format conversion software in
the United States. Sklyarov, who had the benefit of a court
interpreter, spoke the plea himself in English. (Editor: See also a ">press release from Elcomsoft at PR Newswire.)

The court heard a five-count grand jury indictment against
Elcomsoft and previously jailed programmer Sklyarov on
charges of trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in a
copyright circumvention device.

Sklyarov -- who is out of custody on US $50,000 bail --
could face a prison term of up to twenty-five years and a
US $2,250,000 fine. As a corporation, Elcomsoft faces a
potential US $2,500,000 fine.

"Dmitry has programmed a format converter which has many
legitimate uses including enabling the blind to hear
eBooks," explained Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier
Foundation Legal Director. "The idea that he faces prison
for this is outrageous. The EFF will support Dmitry through
the end of this ordeal."

"We were hoping that the government would see the wisdom
and justice in not pursuing a case against Sklyarov,"
said his attorney, Joseph M. Burton of Duane Morris in
San Francisco. "Even if one were to ignore the serious
legal questions involving the DMCA, this case hardly
cries out for criminal prosecution. Sklyarov's and
Elcomsoft's actions are not conduct that Congress
intended to criminalize. We will vigorously contest these
charges."

Sklyarov and his attorneys appeared at the arraignment
with US Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg presiding.
The next court appearance scheduled in the case is
9:00 AM Pacific on September 4 before Judge Ronald
Whyte in the San Jose Federal Court building.

Well-dressed observers attended the arraignment
and nonviolent protests occurred in Moscow (Russia),
London (England), Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Reno, and Black Rock City, Nevada.

Hundreds of protestors are expected to march today
from the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco to the
Federal Court building.

Background on the Sklyarov case:
http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/US_v_Sklyarov/.

Calendar of protests related to the Sklyarov case:
http://freesklyarov.org/calendar/.

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
expression, privacy, and openness in the information
society. EFF is a member-supported organization and
maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world:
http://www.eff.org/.

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