July 25, 2001

Free Sklyarov update: EFF to negotiate with U.S. Attorney

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -
Updated 8:18 p.m. EST -

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced late Wednesday its representatives will meet with the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California this Friday in attempt to free jailed Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov.

"EFF will make a good faith attempt at negotiations aimed at dropping all charges against Dmitry Sklyarov and securing his immediate release from jail," the organization said in a brief press release Wednesday evening.

If the EFF's negotiations don't work, look for more protests, with protesters taking on the U.S. government, instead of Adobe. While the next round of protests is still in the discussion stage, the free-sklyarov email list continues to generate dozens of messages a day.

C. Scott Ananian, organizer of a Boston protest last Monday and press contact for freesklyarov.org, says many of those who organized the first protests last Monday are aiming for a July 30 protest to coincide with the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of Robert Mueller, who President George W. Bush has nominated to head the FBI. Mueller is now the U.S. Attorney in charge of Sklyarov's prosecution. The same people who brought you BoycottAdobe.com, for the software company's cooperation with the FBI in the Sklyarov case, are now running RejectMueller.com.

The mistrust of the EFF's tactics by members of the free-sklyarov email list seems to have dissipated when Abode called for Sklyarov's release this week after meeting with EFF representatives. The EFF, which had originally helped organized the first round of protests, backed off when Adobe agreed to meet.

"I suppose that most of the local organizers will fall in behind the EFF if they propose a concrete 'next action' date," says Ananian. "Boston is committed to continuing action to free Sklyarov, one a week, if necessary, until he is freed."

Sklyarov was arrested after presenting a paper at Def Con in Las Vegas last week. He allegedly violated the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which which outlaws the practice of making programs to circumvent copyright protections. Sklyarov's supposed crime was developing software that allows buyers of eBooks, the copyrighted digital book format created by Adobe Systems, to back up eBook files or view them on unsupported platforms, such as Linux.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 people have signed the Open Source Community Declaration of Support for Sklyarov, announced by Chris DiBona, an employee of NewsForge owner OSDN/VA Linux, on July 20.

Other Open Source/Free Software groups have pitched in as well. The GNU-Darwin distribution project had been supporting the former Adobe boycott by pointing out free alternatives, says the project's Michael L. Love, and the project will continue to support the movement's focus on the prosecution in the case.

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