February 4, 2002

Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes digital copyright law

Author: JT Smith

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today
filed an amicus brief in federal district court asking that
the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) be found
unconstitutional because it impinges on protected speech
and stifles technological innovation. The case arises from
the criminal prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry
Sklyarov and Elcomsoft, the Moscow-based company where he
works.

Despite essentially dropping its prosecution of Dmitry
Sklyarov on December 13, 2001, the U.S. government has
maintained that the Russian company Elcomsoft should still
be held criminally liable for creating software that
converts Adobe eBooks into PDF format files.

The Computing Law and Technology and U.S. Public Policy
Committees of the Association for Computing Machinery, the
American Association of Law Libraries, the Electronic
Privacy Information Center, and the Music Library
Association signed on to the EFF brief that, along with a
brief from over 20 law professors, supports Elcomsoft's own
motions to dismiss the case.

"The Adobe eBook technology hands complete control of the
user's experience to publishers," noted EFF Legal Director
Cindy Cohn. "They can prevent lending or selling of eBooks,
transferring eBooks from one machine to another for more
convenient reading, printing segments of an eBook for use
in criticism or commentary, or enabling text-to-speech
software, often used by blind people."

"The law should protect the First Amendment rights of eBook
purchasers, not just eBook publishers or corporations
trying to lock down eBook formats," stated EFF Intellectual
Property Attorney Robin Gross. "If Elcomsoft is convicted
under the DMCA, it will be illegal for competitors to write
software or build digital entertainment devices that
compete with those from the established media companies."

At Adobe's request, the FBI arrested Elcomsoft employee
Dmitry Sklyarov after he delivered a lecture in Las Vegas
on July 17, 2001. In August, the U.S. Department of Justice
indicted both Sklyarov and Elcomsoft on five counts of
violating the DMCA's anti-circumvention measures and
conspiracy. After weeks of protests and an international
letter-writing campaign opposing the prosecution of the
then 26-year-old father of two, the Justice Department
finally agreed to drop the criminal charges against
Sklyarov in late 2001 in exchange for his promise to
testify in the case.

Elcomsoft's motion to dismiss on constitutional grounds is
set to be heard before Federal District Court Judge Ronald
Whyte on April 1, 2002 in San Jose, California. An earlier
set of motions filed by Elcomsoft to dismiss the case for
lack of jurisdiction and and for lack of proof of a
"conspiracy" are set for hearing on March 4, 2002.

Documents related to U.S. v. Sklyarov case:
http://www.eff.org/Cases/US_v_Sklyarov/">http://www.eff.org/Cases/US_v_Sklyarov/.

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 at
http://www.eff.org/

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