July 23, 2001

Electronic Publishers Coalition condemns criminal use of DMCA

Author: JT Smith

While all publishers are concerned about professional copyright
thieves, the Electronic Publishers Coalition condemns the use of the
criminal provisions of the DMCA against Dimitry Sklyarov, a Russian
programmer and cryptanalyst visiting the United States.

"Persecution of an individual shouldn't be any company's response to
a commercial disagreement, especially regarding copyright," Connie
Foster, the EPC executive director said Sunday.

"All members of the EPC -- not just a small portion of them as with
print-oriented groups like the AAP -- work with the Adobe and other
electronic formats to publish their e-books, and we recognize that the
same technology that benefits publishers with lower production and
distribution costs also aids copyright violators."

"We also recognize from our close experience working with electronic
books, that readers need and deserve greater leeway with the e-books
they purchase than the current limited DRM and security technology
provides," Foster stated. (Note: DRM -- for digital rights management
-- provides permissions control with e-books, disallowing [or
permitting] such things as copying text to a computer's clipboard,
printing of the content, and lending the e-book to another computer's
reading system.)

Foster continued, "In this case, readers' interests should be
paramount, and the leading e-book formats -- Adobe's among them --
slight them by making it impossible to open an e-book when upgrading
to a new computer or when suffering a number of all-too-common
computer woes, such as virus infection and hard-disk failure."

"At this point in e-books' development, we think it's just too early
for companies such as Adobe that have nascent content-delivery systems
to think they have solved all their problems and to resort to criminal
charges against a programmer who discovered and discussed serious
flaws in the program's security structure."

Foster went on to note: "Some people think Adobe has to pursue this
type of action to reassure publishers their content is safe. But what
publishers need to know is that Adobe understands the technology and
its current limits, and the problems with its own software, and that
it understands what our customers -- that is, readers -- need and what
the immature e-book industry needs in order to grow."

Sklyarov, a graduate student at Bauman Moscow State Technical
University, reported at a Las Vegas conference on his research on
e-book security performed for his dissertation. His research was later
incorporated into a permissions-removal program called Advanced E-book
Processor, or AEBPR, by ElcomSoft, a Russian software company that now
employs him. The program apparently sold fewer than ten copies before
being pulled from the market at Adobe's insistence. It had not been
available commercially for more than two weeks before Sklyarov's visit
to America.

AEBPR allows users to make backups of legally purchased Adobe eBooks
that ignore the eBooks' restrictions on copying, printing and lending,
if any, and permit the eBook to be read on a replacement copy of Adobe
eBook Reader if the initial installation no longer functions or if the
user upgrades to a new computer. It does not work with eBooks sold to
another user. Since under Russian law, such backups are mandatory for
data sellers, Adobe eBooks contravene the law and AEBPR is legal in
Russia, as well as in Germany and Scandinavia, and other countries.
Its use in the U.S. is not permitted under the DMCA, the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act.

The Electronic Publishers Coalition was founded by a group of
publishers committed to furthering the growth of the e-book community.
It is the largest trade association of electronic publishers in the
world. A primary role of the EPC is to follow through on its
commitment to develop a healthy marketplace for digital content as
well as to take a leadership role in setting minimum standards in
order to encourage quality within our industry. The EPC is located on
the web at http://www.epccentral.org/.

Connie Foster, eBooksonthe.net, publisher@ebooksonthe.net, 207-667-6515
Jon Noring, Blue Glass Publishing, noring@olagrande.net, 801-253-4037
Roger Sperberg, Watchung Plaza Books, roger@e-bks.com, 973-744-7802
URL: http://www.epccentral.org/dmca.html.

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