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Travesty: Dmitry Sklyarov's Arrest 354

Posted by JonKatz
from the --what's-at-stake-(lots)- dept.
Can Draconian Internet copyright laws be used to make criminals of people who criticize corporate products or government behavior? In the Sklyarov case -- he's in jail, charged with "trafficking" in software -- criminal felony liability has been imposed by the government at the complaint of a corporation for behavior that may not even qualify technically as copyright infringement, an ugly escalation of growing conflicts involving corporatism, free speech, intellectual property and the movement of ideas online. Does anybody believe Ralph Nader or a New York Times reporter would be in jail if he or she did what Sklyarov did? (Meanwhile, Adobe, in a classic demo of corporate morality, is running for its life.)

The arrest highlights the way copyright law and intellectual property issues have been highjacked by software and entertainment companies and their lobbyists, who joined forces to pass the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, a little-noticed or debated 1996 law that turns out to be a serious threat to free speech online or off. Sklyarov, a 26-year-old graduate student from Moscow, is one of the first people to face criminal prosecution -- including jail -- under the DMCA. His alleged crime? He is accused of "trafficking" in software designed to circumvent the security features of an Adobe e-book program used by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sellers of electronic books.

The arrest raises questions about the right of individuals -- hackers, reporters, programmers, kids in their rooms -- to raise public policy issues relating to software, encryption or security -- without being arrested and jailed, an act more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than of a country that once placed considerable premium on free speech. If the Sklyarov case stands, then discussion of security, copyright, intellectual property and other issues online will be severely curtailed. This is serious stuff.

In addition, there is a significant body of Constitutional law that gives special protection to journalists and people acting in that role -- like Sklyarov -- from powerful interests like governments and corporations that allows them to raise public policy issues which, over the years, have ranged from national security to government corruption to music and research to software and issues relating to its security. The Constitution always tilted in favor of protecting individuals who challenge authority, under the theory that concentrated power poses a greater threat to freedom than the behavior of individuals.

To understand how information conglomerates have, along with Congress, corrupted Constitutional law, you have to draw analogies to previous cases in which individuals acted as checks and balances on powerful institutions.

Consider the celebrated Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration in 1971. Journalists, including some working for The New York Times, CBS News and The Washington Post, obtained and disclosed secret Pentagon documents dealing with the decision-making that led to the Vietnam War, then and now bitterly controversial.

The circumstances were very different. The government invoked national security, not copyright in an effort to keep proprietary information secret. The government and the President reacted furiously when they learned that the media intended to publish these documents, citing law and national security. Reporters couldn't be allowed to decide which classified documents would be published, argued the government. These documents belonged to government agencies and could only be released by them. In a different context, Adobe and the government are making the very same argument against Sklyarov.

The Federal government threatened criminal action against the reporters and their news organizations, claiming it was illegal to disclose documents relating to national security. But the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, found that it was unconstitutional to exercise that kind of "prior restraint" on a journalist or news organization seeking to fulfill its constitutional duties to monitor government actions. The court ruled that even though national security concerns were legitimate, the greater public interest lay in the ability of citizens to understand the decisions that led to a prolonged military conflict. The court ruled for an open, rather than a closed, debate on Vietnam.

In its ruling, the Court affirmed long-standing legal interpretations which protected people acting as citizens or journalists -- remember, there are no established qualifications; anyone can function as a journalist -- from censorship, restraint or punishment while they were acting in the public interest, defined as scrutinizing and checking power and authority. Today, corporatism is as powerful as most governments, and as urgently in need of monitoring.

Apart from the scale of the bedrock issue -- a war versus encryption -- there is little legal difference between the reporters seeking to disclose what was in the Pentagon Papers and Sklyarov, who was acting as a reporter just as much as New York Times employees. If anything, the Pentagon papers were airing much more sensitive material -- top-secret classified documents from U.S. defense agencies.

If a New York Times or Washington Post reporter challenged the effectiveness of a government official or agency, he or she would be showered with awards. Reporters published "leaked" or confidential material all the time, in regards to the safety practices of companies as well as the workings of government. Does any rational person think a New York Times reporter would ever be arrested or thrown in jail for disclosing that a software company's supposedly securely encrypted software had flaws? Sklyarov is entitled to the same standing, and the same protection. In a sense, hackers are the reporters and commentators of cyberspace, in some contexts entitled to similiar protections.

If there's a bright spot to the arrest, it's the growing discomfort of Adobe, which spent most of yesterday back-pedaling, trying to distance itself from the arrest. The image of this giant corporation, which claims to be the second biggest PC software company in the United States, against a 26-year-old gadfly wasn't pretty, and may deter other companies from calling in the feds. This promises to be a PR debacle for Adobe, and the company richly deserves it. Many software critics compare Sklyarov to corporate critics like Ralph Nader, who gathered private information on the behavior and safety records of corporations and there products, but are rarely, if ever, thrown in jail for it. Yesterday, Adobe panicked, and in an unexpected turnaround, called for Sklyarov's release -- almost one month to the day that the company filed a complaint about him with the F.B.I. That leaves the feds holding the bag, trying to explain this outrageous arrest.

People protesting Sklyarov's arrest are correct when they warn that critics of companies can now go to jail for proving that so-called secure software isn't necessarily secure. Or for obtaining and publishing other "copyrighted" material, now under the DMCA, and owned by wealthy, politically-connected corporations like Adobe or Microsoft.

Companies like Sony, Disney, AOL Time-Warner, Microsoft and Adobe are increasingly powerful, and spend billions lobbying Washington politicians to enact laws like the DMCA, an almost total creation of the music industry.

But people like Sklyarov are clearly acting in the public interest when they monitor the ethics, performance and conduct of companies like Adobe, just as the Pentagon Paper reporters were disclosing documents that launched the Vietnam War. If Adobe's encryption software works, what does the company have to fear from a 26-year-old Russian hacker?

Sklyarov was guilty of offering a public presentation about software designed to prevent the piracy of e-books, meanwhile, publishing corporations have been lining up behind the record and movie companies to try to control intellectual property online -- at any cost.

Sklyarov wasn't stealing money, or behaving in any overtly criminal way. The government and Adobe both have civil legal remedies they could have pursued. And whatever Sklyarov's motives or intentions, he was acting in the most traditional and highest standards of the press and free speech in questioning the widely-used products of a powerful corporation. Encryption and e-publishing is a bona fide public policy issue with significant implications for business and the public.

Who else but a hacker is in a position to monitor companies like Adobe and the products they create, products that are at the center of a number of crucial public policy issues? To embroil this person in criminal prosecution is an unthinking and chilling assault on the notion -- and long-held practice -- that people in the United States can speak out, however obnoxiously, against powerful institutions.

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Sklyarov's Arrest

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What kind of world is it where this poor Russian bastard is in jail and Katz walks the streets a free man?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    . . . he tried to sell his product in the US, using a US based firm to conduct credit card transactions. Should he not be subject to US law? You are arguing foreign nationals should not be subject to US law, so long as what they are doing is legal in their country. An analogy would be that if crack were legal in Russia, Sklyarov should be able to sell crack in the US. The laws of your own country don't follow you where ever you go. Moreover, if you are going to conduct business in a foreign country, (i.e. sell a product in a foreign country) you better be sure that it is legal there, and not just in your home country.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...he was held for violating a US law, while at the time of the violation he wasn't on US soil or in US jurisdiction. Now I might be a bit confused, but I never heard of any country (other than Israel, and now ours, anyway) holding and charging someone who did something perfectly legal where he was at the time when he did it; just because it would have been POSSIBLY illegal had he done it elsewhere. US law stops at the US border; unless made part of a treaty with another nation. It's the responsibility of the customs division to ensure that items legally prohibited to the citizens of the US don't get here... ...not that of the business that manufactures and sells them where it is legal to do so.
  • He notes that "A large amount of useful content is now encoded as PDF (Portable Document Format) files, including files marketed for the eBook document reader. Unfortunately, some of this content is not usable in all the LAWFUL WAYS [emphasis mine] a purchaser desires, due to access control mechanisms created by Adobe and adopted by content publishers to the detriment of their [LAWFUL] customers."

    hmmm......

    When I buy a real book, I cannot email it to my friends directly. I cannot automaticly dump it into word or whatever and just cut and paste large segments. I could transcribe it if I want those effects, or scan, OCR and edit for the same effect.

    Are paper book publishers denying me my rights to use content in lawful ways?

    How EASY does fair use have to be in order for it to be provided? Just because a book comes to you in electronic form, why should your ease of "fair use" have to be the same as other electronic media, rather than merely what was put up with in the realm of paper? Did photocopiers give us new rights in fair use or merely convinience?

    I have yet to hear a convincing argument that an absolutely perfect hassel free copy that can again be copied perfectly is required for any sort of "fair use".

    Kahuna Burger (posting AC cause I lost my password cookie.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:15AM (#64876)
    On July 17, 2001, the Government of Canada released a series of papers detailing a framework and roadmap for new Copyright law. They are asking for comments, and we have until September to respond.

    Details can be found here [ic.gc.ca] or

    http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/rp01100e.html

    for the anchor paranoid.

    Lets stop the DMCA from undermining our rights north of the border.
  • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:33AM (#64886) Homepage
    ...until the people are affected directly by it, and then there will be a backlash. They don't care that some random hacker got arrested for annoying Adobe. They will care when Windows XP tells tham that they're not allowed to play the music they just copied off a CD they bought. They will care when Passport gets cracked or DOSed and their buddy lists or email or credit card numbers are lost or stolen. They will care when someone test-drives a subscription model and they suddenly have to pay again and again for something they used to get for free. Consumer rejection killed the DivX disc, and it can still kill just about anything else that a corporation puts on the market. Last time I checked, the decision to buy or not to buy was still left to the individual consumer.

    [awaits insane replies from paranoiacs contradicting last sentence]

  • I don't want the guy to suffer, but since he was SELLING the product, I don't feel as sorry that he may be the one to have to test the DMCA

    HE wasn't selling anything! The company he works for was selling the product. We don't go out and round up the workers at a corporation when it breaks the law. Why should he have been arrested in the first place? If they were going to arrest someone, why not the CEO of the company who was with him and more directly responsible for the sale of the program in the US than Dmitri was?

    He's not an American. He shouldn't have to suffer to change some moronic law that we made, which he didn't even break himself. We need to clean up our own mess, not make him do it. The guy should be released so he can get home to his family and tell everyone over there about the fucked up "IP" laws America has.

  • This is why the DMCA is here in the first place, because there was little thoughtful debate on why it shouldn't be enacted into law, just a bunch of warez puppies screaming "information wants to be free".

    Actually there was little to no public debate whatsoever on the DMCA. It was created very quietly. Then our cowardly congresscritters passed it with a voice vote rather than voting on the record. I think they should ALL be held responsible for it.

  • How EASY does fair use have to be in order for it to be provided?

    It doesn't have to be easy. My having a right doesn't mean that you have to make exercising that right easy for me. But: while you may make it difficult, you cannot make it illegal. And that's exactly what DMCA does. It outlaws my exercising a legal right.

    If Adobe can come up with some strong encryption to prevent copying, more power to them. But they shouldn't use the cowardly approach of outlawing circumvention technology.

    --


  • No, it's :

    If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit.


    --
  • Should you be allowed to profit from your work? Well of course. It's a rare bird that says you shouldn't. However, should my rights of free speech and press be infringed upon so that you can profit by being the only person permitted to exercise them for a particular work?

    Copyright is a bargain. I am willing to voluntarily not exercise my God-given right to repeat or republish things, if the work in question is good enough, and if it promotes the continued progress of the arts and of human culture.

    But not completely. I still want to be able to make copies for my personal use if I got the original legally. I still want to be able to sell the original. (but will destroy any copies I made) I still want to be able to use your works in certain, limited ways to promote the progress of the arts even further, perhaps by quoting it in book reviews, perhaps by xeroxing portions and using them in teaching. And above all, I want to, after you've had enough time to make your work pay for itself, stop this sacrifice, and be able to do whatever I want with the work through the end of time.

    This seems fair enough, right? Particularly since you cannot demand that I, in this case, we, the people who give authority to the government, are being gracious to you. We don't HAVE to voluntarily surrender our rights, even for a moment. If it's worth our while, and if it's on our terms, then we're ameniable to it. But copyrights are a gift we grant, and not something you're entitled to just by being an author.

    Unfortunately, even THIS isn't enough for the moneyed copyright interests, who want more and more and more, and think that they deserve it. If they keep it up, I think that there will sooner or later be a reckoning, and things will be set back to how they were.
  • Not feasible. What happens when a judge or the Canadian Parliment decide to overturn some law, reinterpret it, or rewrite it? Boom - the measure is no longer legal, because it's a stupid piece of code. It can't keep up with the legal system on a minute-by-minute basis.

    The thing to do is this:
    Any copyrighted work may not have any protection measure whatsoever. However, infringing uses may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Any work with any protection measure will be stripped of its copyright in all expressions of that work.

    Any uncopyrighted work may have a protection measure, but all peoples of the world are invited to try their hand at breaking it, and disseminating the uncopyrighted work at will. The government will maintain a small office dedicated to coordinating exploits and assisting in them, and maybe even their intelligence apparatus might use them for practice.

    Basically... self-help is not a good thing in the realm of copyrights or patents. How does it promote progress if the work is unusable?
  • Of course they do. Imagine that it is illegal in Foosylvania to criticize the government there. Do I, an American citizen, not have the right to use the Internet to publish criticisms of the Foosylvanian government because it would break THEIR law? What a silly argument.

    Elcomsoft exported their software out of Russia. Simultaneously someone imported their software into the US. If you're going to pursue a trafficker, it is the person who brought it into here - not the person who sent it out of there.
  • They will care when Windows XP tells tham that they're not allowed to play the music they just copied off a CD they bought.

    And they'll sit back and take it and just play it off the CD, because a life without the latest nsync CD apparently isn't worth living for most of them.

    They will care when Passport gets cracked or DOSed and their buddy lists or email or credit card numbers are lost or stolen

    No they won't, they'll just want to make sure that the hacker gets thrown in prison, beaten and raped, and in their heart of hearts, hope he gets killed. Banks still get robbed, most people assume the site has the same security as a bank and that it took some master criminal to commit this heinous act.

    > Consumer rejection killed the DivX disc

    I suspect it was the fact that it was Circuit City alone against a much bigger set of folks who didn't care to change standards due to the slower market penetration inherent in requiring a telephone-connected device, which by the way, cost more. Look for DIVX to return in future DVD players as an enhancement.
    --
  • > The guy was arrested for creating and selling a device which breaks Adobe's "encryption".

    Correct, the advanced e-book processor, which comes bundled with exactly zero (0) copyrighted e-books, which you are instead encouraged to legally purchase, download, and then view on the e-book processor.

    They came for him with guns and batons, and threw him into an iron cage with murderers for writing a compatible product. He didn't even need to look at Adobe's copyrighted source to do it. Adobe and their ilk have made it a federal felony to break their file formats.

    Yep, it was a crime, this is the new kind of crime congress rolled over and passed. Corruption isn't just draining your wallet now, it's threatening people's lives.
    --
  • Software is speech. It is a string of symbols that transfer meaning. A computer program - in source or object form - is just as much a legitimate protected expression as is a photograph, a blueprint, a mathematical equation, or a dirty joke written in Linear B.

    Not exactly. Speech is protected at different levels depending, among other things, on "usefulness". Since software is a type of functional speech, it's protections are less than those for flag burning or pamphlet writing.

    So yes, the speech (actual talking) is protected at the highest level. Software that implements the concepts is somewhat less protected. Software that is sold is a direct violation of the DMCA.

    Personally, given the precedents set with dual-deck VCRs, I don't think that provision has a leg to stand on as long as the software has a non-infringing purpose. But that's just my humble opinion, and they've not yet made me a judge. ;)

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

    ...clarity is not Katz' strong point...
  • by FreeUser (11483)
    As much as I hate the DMCA and all it stands for (the repression of speech, the creation of "thought crimes," the criminalization of standard engineering practices, and the elevation of corporate greed and profits above the basic rights of the individual to name a few), it is in no way Dmitry's responsibility to suffer in prison to defened our (America's) rights.

    Where were we when the DMCA was being passed? Where were we when the 2600 case was being fought? How many of us did anything beyond bitching on slashdot? How many of us joined the EFF? How many of us have written our representatives to express our displeasure? For that matter, how many of us voted in the last election (Floridians are excepted, as their votes were only selectively counted anyway)?

    It is our responsibility (those of us who are residents and citizens of the United States) to put an end to this obscenity (the DMCA) and the injustice it incurrs. Not a visiting Russian programmer whos only real crime is to speak out against a large company's flawed, perhaps even fraudulant, product.

    Dmitry should do what he needs to get get free, and get clear of this repressive nation, and we should support him in doing so, not expect him to fight our battles for us (however tempting it may be). However, we should not be shy in using this situation to put the case forward to those who do not understand the issues, and to make it known far and wide what has happened so that neither the government nor Adobe ever live this abuse of power down.
  • ...if Sklyarov as a foreign traveller still enjoys the same 1st amendment rights as US citizens while speaking in the US?

    My first reaction to your question was to say "of course!" but then the laws have become so twisted in the last twenty years or so in order to support the War on Drugs (for example, laws which clearly violate the 4th amendment have been upheld by the courts because of "compelling state interest," which basically means the supreme court acknowledges that the laws violate the constitution, but think they're a good idea anyway and so refrain from striking them down ... an impeachable offense if there ever was one, but unfortunately I don't think supreme court justices can be impeached. Then there are the concentration ... excuse me, "boot" ... camps we run for drug offendors, about which the less said the better it seems, and the silence surrounding these shadowy affairs is disturbing to say the least. Did I say "concentration camp?" I meant "happy camp."), and our first amendment rights so eroded that the answer to your question must be "that is a damn good question!"

    As an American I assume all of the basic rights (speech, bear arms, religion, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, due process, etc.) apply to everyone equally, citizen or not. However, the law does appear to treat foreigners somewhat differently than citizens (playing it fast and loose with due process for deportation, for example) that I am forced to wonder just how deep into the system those differences carry.

    According to commonly accepted American mores everyone should have the same rights regardless of creed, ethnicity, or citizenship (sans voting, of course, which is reserved for citizens). However, it becomes clearer each day that the mores of America are at severe odds with the mores of our government, the cheap whores who occupy its highest offices, and the lawyers who draft and interpret the legislation. Where that will lead who knows, but I must admit I find the Shakespearean Solution rather appealing these days ("hang all the [IP] lawyers").
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:51AM (#64908)
    Its not that he found the problem, people always do that. He was selling software that cracks it for $99. Did everyone forget that?

    No. His employer was selling the software for $99 in a country where the software was not only legal, but in which, in order for Adobe's software to be at all legal, the existence of the program was required.

    Dmitry doesn't "own" the company that employs him, he works there. Would any of us want to be held accountable for our employer's behavior, however benign. While throwing Bill Gates in jail for Microsoft's behavior might seem reasonable, clearly throwing some low-level Microsoft programmer in jail for incompetent programming, or writing a piece of software used to illegally leverage Microsoft's monopoly, wouldn't be at all acceptable.

    Yet that is very analogous to what happened here. The guy gave a speech on how software he helped develop (and was being sold by his employer in Russia, which last I checked isn't subject to US law). He gave no specifics, merely made it clear that Adobe's copy protection is virtually nonexistent. For that constitutionally protected speech he was carted off by the FBI, held without bail, and denied access to his Consulate while who-knows-what psychological games were played with his mind (not to mention outright interrogation techniques).

    It never ceases to amaze me what levels pro-copyright zealots will stoop to in order to defend the indefensible.
  • That all boils down to whether software is 'speech' or a 'device'. There are arguments on both sides, but I vote for 'speech'. People felt it was more obvious that copyright should cover software than patents. Software has been copyrightable since the 60's, but only patentable since the late 80's.

    Copyright is about stuff you say. Patents are about devices. Software is more like speech than a device. It isn't illegal for people to say stuff or hand out flyers. It shouldn't be illegal to hand out (or even sell) software.

  • Well, I don't agree with the arrest of Sklyarov, but I think you missed the point of the original post.

    The products you sited and not illegal in the US (even the gun), but yes they are regulated.

    Under the stupid DMCA, Sklyarov's program is just illegal, so yes, it would seem he would be breaking that stupid law if he was selling it.

    That's what the DMCA does, and that's why it should be struck down. Selling a gun is less dangerous than this program under current law, what a travesty !
  • He broke the law of the country he was in. ... And it doesn't matter what the law is where he's from and where his company is based. While he's in the US he needs to adhere to US laws.
    No, he didn't break the law.

    Dmitry wrote the software in Russia, where it is legal, and for Adobe to restrict copying is illegal. Elcomsoft was going to sell the software in the US, but stopped at Adobe's request.

    All he did in the US was give an academic presentation on the flaws in Adobe's software. How that would be illegal is beyond me.

    Is the law a good law? Well, that's up for intepretation. But in the meantime, it's a law that's in the books.
    Not only is it not a good law, it's unjust and most probably unconstitutional. What if Rosa Parks hadn't broken the law by refusing to sit in the back of the bus? If a law is unjust, it is our civic duty to disobey it.
  • Is it ok to break laws you don't personally care for?
    There's a difference between laws you disagree with and unjust laws. I don't agree with speed limits, but I accept that the government has the authority to regulate this for public safety. However, if a law is unjust, it is our civic duty to disobey it. Like the other poster said, remember Rosa Parks?

    If something is perfectly legal where you live, but illegal in another jurisdiction, shouldn't you avoid that jurisdiction?
    Dmitry wrote the software in Russia, where it is legal, and for Adobe to restrict copying is illegal. Elcomsoft was going to sell the software in the US, but stopped at Adobe's request.

    All he did in the US was give an academic presentation on the flaws in Adobe's software. How that would be illegal is beyond me.

    Don't simply break the law. If you do, you are likely to end up in jail. How does that help your cause of freedom?
    Sometimes, civic disobedience is the proper course of action. I don't think the Jim Crow laws in the south would've been overturned for many more years if Rosa Parks hadn't broken the law. That and the bus boycotts that followed brought national attention to the situation.
  • by nathanm (12287) <nathanm AT engineer DOT com> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:24AM (#64915)
    No, it wasn't a crime.

    Dmitry wrote the software in Russia, where it is legal, and for Adobe to restrict copying is illegal. Elcomsoft was going to sell the software in the US, but stopped at Adobe's request.

    All he did in the US is give an academic presentation on the flaws in Adobe's software.
  • True, the fact that he is selling the Elcomsoft product is important to consider.

    I think, though, that the analogy to making a bomb and bringing it in to the United States is a bit overblown and a false one. A better analogy would be to carrying around lock-picking tools and other such devices. Essentially, that is what this product is; it is a tool to get access to another's property (IP discussions aside, for now).

    From what I know of the laws, it is not a crime in most parts of the country to carry around tools that allow you to pick locks. Courts may have problems with a company selling a "Super-dooper lock picking gizmo-widget", but I would imagine the courts would issue an injunction against the company against selling the product as opposed to arresting the person who has the patent (or copyright, for IP) to the product. Or, of what a lock-making company might do, in such a case it might try to sue the person producing the product to stop them from selling it (or for perceived damages, but that seems like it would be shaky).

    Bottom line of all this is that as with carrying around lock-picking tools (crowbars, keys, even "super-dooper lock-picking gizmo"), for the sake of freedom we prosecute people only for using such tools to commit or to try to commit a crime. I would give the same argument for the DeCSS case.

    So, even if he was pushing Elcomsoft's line of products, the only thing that should be allowed is for Adobe to (a) sue Elcomsoft or ask the court for an injunction against the product, or (b) sue Sklyarov. Certainly, though, he should not be jailed for his actions.

    If the digital-publishers don't like it, they need to use better encryption or not use the new technologies. I mean, hey, I like CDs and DVDs and might warm up to the idea of eBooks one day (though not yet), I am not willing to lose my rights so that companies can cut their publishing costs or provide a few new features.
  • Exactly.

    Let's be honest here, Jon. If Ralph Nader made a decryption-cracking program available, he would be liable to prosecution. Is that a good thing? No, but it's the way the law currently stands. Is that a good law? No, but that doesn't mean he was arrested for his speech, either.

    There is a relationship of correlation, not causation, between Skylarov's speech and his arrest.

    --

  • With all due respect, regardless of your perspective on the morality of this law, in the boundaries of the States, it is the law....right?

    Is it ok to break laws you don't personally care for?

    Wouldn't the more appropriate route be to move through your elected representatives to have this law repealed, or to work through an organization to challence the constitutionality of this law in court?

    If something is perfectly legal where you live, but illegal in another jurisdiction, shouldn't you avoid that jurisdiction?

    This is a matter of what is law. You may not like the way that the law is written. You might not like the way that the law is enforced. Neither is particularly relevant here.

    Send your comments and constructive criticism to your elected representative, or your local defender of freedom to get this law overturned.

    Don't simply break the law. If you do, you are likely to end up in jail. How does that help your cause of freedom?

    Anomaly

    BTW - God love you and longs for relationship with you. If you would like to know more about this, please contact me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com.
  • > It is not only OK to break laws that are
    > blatently unfair, it is your duty to do so.
    Two points. One is intellectual, one is not. You decide which is which.

    1. Sez who? On what basis is that my duty?
    2. So, you're equating discrimination on the basis of skin pigmentation to be morally equivalent to the government telling you what algorithms are acceptable to run on your computer? How do you get there from here? Do you really believe that you have the constitutional right to do whatever you want with your computer?
  • He broke the law while on Russian soil, and then came and gave a presentation on US soil. If he has stayed in Russia, we would not have arrested him.
  • I personally don't disagree that I have an obligation to work to overturn laws that go against my conscience.

    I have real difficulties seeing how this issue is in any way equal to discrimination against a group of people based on their skin pigmentation.

    I don't thinks that it's unreasonable for the government to place some limitations on the algorithms that you can run on your computer.

    The government places restrictions on the words that you can say - "FIRE! " in a crowded theater, or "HIJACK!" in an airport or airplane.

    The DMCA may be an offensive law, in that it seems to be extreme, but morally objectionable? Unconscienable?

    I can't go there. It's not the same thing as MLK or Rosa Parks.
  • I agree that it is a moral imperative to stand up to the Chinese government, and to take a stand against unjust laws. That moral imperative is what motivated our founding fathers to take a stand creating the US. It was the right thing to do.

    With all due respect, I simply disagree with you about the primacy of this issue related to first amendment rights. Do you believe that the 1st amendment to the constitution guarantees you the right to run whatever algorithm you want on your PC? If so, I guess you may feel a moral imperative to fight this law.

    > If this doesn't scare you, then nothing will

    The founding father's belief was that rights are established by God, not by the ruling powers of the day. Try teaching that in school today, and you'll get sued by the ACLU faster than you can ROT13 my email address. THAT scares me! I'm not kidding about that.

    Look, if you high-horse first amendment defenders are serious about the moral imperative created by the DMCA, then DO something about it.

    VIOLATE IT IN PUBLIC. Get arrested. Hundreds of you....No, Thousands of you across the US, and then use the publicity generated by the spate of arrests to get the 'unjust' law overturned.

    Call the FBI and tell them that you are violating it. Violate businesses' encryption, and post it on the internet everywhere. But don't do it anonymously. Do it for all to see. Make a difference instead of making a stink on a geeky forum that no one outside geekdom reads.

    (Except some variant of carnivore - for those conspiracy theorists out there.)

    Anomaly
  • I have a really hard time criticizing your major assertions, but if I thought the libertarians had a chance of wining dominance, I'd never vote for them. The philosophy is wonderful, but the candidates who would be in charge of implementing it don't inspire trust.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • At least this would only be a publically explainable (to US newspaper reporters) action prior to the release of SKlyarov. And even then they'd get it wrong. And I'm not sure it would be by accident. The media have a lot to loose if DCMA gets discarded or limited, and a lot to win it they let it ride.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Chicanery it may be, but it's still in there, which means it should be enforced just as thoroughly as any of the other provisions. Make "USC Title 17 section 1201(c)(1)" words that every IP protection software maker hates to hear.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:12AM (#64927) Homepage

    What Adobe did could arguably be a crime. In Russia, it is illegal to limit making backup copies of computer software. Adobe's e-book software limits that, which means it violates Russian law. Where the software was written, it would be Adobe being charged with a violation of the law and not Skylarov.

    There's also the US law part of it. Making personal-use copies of copyrighted works is specifically protected as fair use. Making backup copies of computer media is as well. Selling your copy to someone else is as well. The DMCA specifically says that nothing in it shall be construed as limiting fair use rights. Adobe's software limits those fair use rights, and they cite the DMCA in direct contradiction of the DMCA itself. Maybe it's time to stop hacking around these things and start filing suit against these companies for violations of USC Title 17 Chapter 1 sections 107, 109 and 117. Basically, don't argue that breaking copy protection shouldn't be illegal, argue that putting the copy protection in in that manner is itself illegal.

  • But surely you could then counter-sue saying that the only way Adobe could have found out was be reverse engineering the code?
  • "journalists -- remember, there are no established qualifications"

    That about explains JonKatz, doesn't it?
  • The U.S. government is making itself look really bad with this incident, particularly at a time when it's trying to get U.S. scholars released from Chinese prisons. I'm surprised Russia and China haven't raised a stink about this, given that jurisdiction is a little shaky in this case--- has anybody seen articles about any reaction from the Russion government?

    I'm very tempted to write my congresscritter and point out that arresting foreign citizens for "crimes" committed in their native land (where they are perfectly legal) is exactly the human rights violation we're protesting when China does it to U.S. citizens. Of course, the U.S. government has no problem being hypocritical anyway, but it still must look bad to the rest of the world...

  • . . .arrest the employees of the Adobe Moscow office ??? After all, ADOBE is breaking Russian law. . . oops, nearest office is in Sweden. However, they DO have an agent in Russia:
    Russia
    AZ-Graphics Co.
    24 Pravda Street, Office 706
    Pressa Entrance
    Moscow 125865
    Russia
    Tel: (+7) 095-257-45-23
    Fax: (+7) 095-251-42-49
    (taken from Adobe's European Support Page [adobe.com]

    Actually, I'm surprised that there HASN'T been a counter-arrest in Russia, or a uproar from the Duma. . . .

  • Try telling that to Rosa Parks - the law said black people must move to the back of the bus. The result of her civil disobedience was that she was arrested. Then, the outcry over that incident brought an end to Jim Crow laws.

    It is not only OK to break laws that are blatently unfair, it is your duty to do so.

    Speaking of duty... This version is probably HTML mangled, see the DeCSS gallery for the unmangled version.

    #!/usr/bin/perl # 472-byte qrpff, Keith Winstein and Marc Horowitz # MPEG 2 PS VOB file -> descrambled output on stdout. # usage: perl -I :::: qrpff # where k1..k5 are the title key bytes in least to most-significant order s''$/=\2048;while(){G=29;R=142;if((@a=unqT="C*",_) [20]&48){D=89;_=unqb24,qT,@ b=map{ord qB8,unqb8,qT,_^$a[--D]}@INC;s/...$/1$&/;Q=unqV,qb2 5,_;H=73;O=$b[4]>8^(P=(E=255)&(Q>>12^Q>>4^Q/8^Q))> 8^(E&( F=(S=O>>14&7^O) ^S*8^S>=8 )+=P+(~F&E))for@a[128..$#a]}print+qT,@a}';s/[D-HO- U_]/\$$&/g;s/q/pack+/g;eval

  • by Xenu (21845) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:01AM (#64939)
    It isn't within Adobe's power to drop the charges. The charge is a criminal offense (State vs. Joe Blow) and only the government or the court has the power to dismiss the case or drop the charges.
  • That's kind of a short-sighted view, isn't it? Wouldn't it be better to have this one go to trial, and give the DMCA a chance to get tossed out as unconstitutional? Sure it's bad for the Russian guy, but just as the GPL is unproven, the DMCA has to get into court eventually... why not sooner rather than later?

    Oh..... I see..... you're taking this as an opportunity to take a swipe at a conservative guy taking over the FBI. Okay, makes sense, never mind.

    I'm sure there are numerous people with plenty of $$ who will take up Dmitry's case should it go that far.
  • by majcher (26219) <slashdot@nOsPam.majcher.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:47PM (#64942) Homepage
    Dmitry wrote the software in Russia, where it is legal, and for Adobe to restrict copying is illegal.


    Perhaps the Russian government should invite some Adobe executives to their country for an "extended discussion" on the matter...

  • I agree. But... Sometimes, I rip on him. But I also rip on my good friends. It all depends on how the ripping occurs. FWIW, I've also written privately to him twice, and he's a really okay guy.

    Some of his stuff is a bit over the top (Hellmouth seemed very repetitive after two installments. But maybe that's because I'm so far removed (10 years) from the situation he was talking about). And I almost never agree with his movie reviews. But this piece and the piece on the Pinkerton's were good.

    Sure, there are a few factual errors in this article, namely about some specific legal points. But the law is in some ways a bigger technical minefield, with more nuances than the Linux kernel code. So he is bound to make mistakes.

    But that doesn't diminish the message. No matter what technicality of the law Adobe uses to weasel out of culpability, the broad strokes are correct: Adobe got the FBI to arrest a Russian hacker for telling Adobe's corporate secrets.

    So yes, his comparison to the Pentagon Papers wasn't 100% correct from a legal standpoint. But from the POV of the public, he is dead on.

    (And more directly on point: DeCSS didn't matter except to the lunatic fringe. 2600 ditto. Everyone knew that Napster was being used primarily as a tool to steal (albeit from thieves). But this case is perhaps the first where
    regular people are being hurt by the DMCA. The next case will hurt even more 'average joes'. As we go on, more and more of these cases will hurt the common man. And sooner or later, our elected officials will stand up and take notice. I just hope there are still Dmitry's around to write the software that will help us excercise our rights.)

  • News film of young black boys being attacked by police dogs and mowed down with firehoses for walking down the street didn't change things?! All those protests in the '60s didn't change anyone's attitudes about the 'police action' in Vietnam?

    I'll have you know that I'm 35. Neither young nor feeble. Changing the world is not accomplished within sanctum of the courtroom. First you have to wake the sleeping giant, that great body of apathy we call the public. After you shake them to a groggy state of consciousness, you have to inform them that there is a big demon ready to pounce on them and eat their children. Then the giant will awake, and woe be to those who stand in its sight.

    Protest are part of the waking process. Seeing the citizens of other countries burning our flag is part of the waking process. I know this doesn't have anything to do with dishonoring Russian culture, just as well as you, but such a story will STILL get hours of playtime on talk radio and 'Rivera Live'. That will help to shake the giant awake.

    In this case, the politicians will see the giant waking and tell RIAA, MPAA, et.al. that their baby is dead and kill DMCA.

    My suggestion is a political move to get others on our side in order to help shake the sleepy giant. If you try to do everything honestly and directly, you will never get anywhere.

  • However, the real prick bastards of the world will tend to congragate where the rules of conduct allow them to excersize there own brand of morality and justice.

    As I replied to another poster, you can't always get your way directly and honestly. Sometimes you have to manipulate people. In this case, that means modifying the 'real prick bastards' idea of morality and justice. Just because they're prick bastards does not mean that:

    1) They want to see their country owned by Adobe, Microsoft, MPAA, RIAA, et.al.
    2) They want to be pawns of Adobe, Microsoft, MPAA, RIAA, et.al.
    3) They want to do anything more that uphold the law (as they see it).

    You are right. I'm not disagreeing that law enforcement agencies are full of prick bastards (hence my comment: if not sometimes misguided). That just means that the impetus in on us to show them that we are on the moral and just side of things.

  • by Shotgun (30919) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:00AM (#64947)
    No. I disagree.

    A smart FBI would pursue the punishment of Dmitry to the bitter end. All the while crying, "It's not our fault. Adobe set us up the bomb. All our bases are belong to Adobe. Congress made the law, Bill Clinton signed it, and we must enforce it until Congress tells us otherwise." (Note: the reference to Clinton is important to overturn the law. Bush can say, "See! I'm fixing that Clinton guy's mistakes!" True or not, we don't care.)

    While the execs may enjoy the fruits of their selling out labor (Congress in this case), the rank and file of most organizations tend to have some honor and respect for their positions. I truly believe that most FBI agents are honorable, if not sometimes misguided, hard working people who want to 'do the right thing' by their country.

    This law (DMCA) is a travesty, and nothing will happen to it as long as the big guys are allowed to us it to quietly stuff little guys in holes. We need to use Dmitry as a martyr (that's what he gets for selling his software instead of releasing it open source 8*). He'll most likely end up much better than when he started (free publicity and all), and we need someone to show the public how the big guys have a tool to shut down anyone they like (we USians abhor a bully--unless it's us). Adobe must not be allowed to simply walk away and say, "Ahh, we were only kiddin'."

    We need some people in Russia protesting outside of the US embassy. Have them burn some flags and call Bush stupid and evil. Have some USians from Russians descent complain how this law and the prosecution of Dmitry is an attack on Russian culture. Hell, protest outside of the Russian embassy in Washington. Turn this whole damn thing into an international incident that Bush will have to be involved with personnally.

    Then watch how quickly the law gets struck down.

  • I thought about this and wondered if they considered what would happen if he went to the Russian embassy. It would still be difficult to get him back home but that's Russian soil for all practical purposes. The feds couldn't touch him without an international incident.

    Just musing...

  • The DMCA specifically says that nothing in it shall be construed as limiting fair use rights.

    I think that is more a piece of legislative chianery than any guarantee of public rights.

    The DMCA could easily have been written in a way that protects fair use; the fact that it was not indicates that it was designed to undermine fair use. A direct attack on fair use would likely render the DMCA unconstitutional, so they (1) attacked fair use indirectly by outlawing the mechanisms by which people utilize thos rights and (2) explicitly disclaimed any direct restriction of fair use.

    This kind of hypocrisy is now the law of the land. The courts have held that the preamble to granting Congress the copyright power, which states this power is granted for purposes of advancing the useful arts, does not limit how Congress uses the power. That is to say, Congress can use this power in ways that don't promote the arts or even retard them. It's up to us, the people, to keep our Congress honest when it comes to copyrights; we can't count on the Constitution on this one.

    So, if Sklyarov did, as now appears likely, sold a few copies of his company's program, he is probably technically guity of violating the odious anti-TPM measures of DMCA. Nonetheless his arrest frivolous and spiteful: Adobe wasn't harmed in any real way, and he was leaving to return to his home country, where his work is legal and valued. At most he should be asked never to return to the US.

    Adobe should not be off the hook until they have moved heaven and earth to get him freed.

  • Dr. Dave Touretzky, a Computer Science Professor at Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) and academic editor/author of the academic research website Gallery of CSS Descramblers [cmu.edu], has issued a Call For Papers [actually "technical submissions"] [cmu.edu] regarding information about Adobe's access control mechanisms and the remedies people [i.e. legal content users exercising their "fair use" rights] have devised to deal with them.

    He is interested in receiving and publishing the following kinds of information:

    Technical descriptions of the access control and encryption mechanisms associated with PDF files and/or eBooks.

    Technical descriptions of remedies for these mechanisms, e.g., patches, key recovery algorithms, modified plug-ins, etc.

    Source code for implementing these remedies.

    He notes that "A large amount of useful content is now encoded as PDF (Portable Document Format) files, including files marketed for the eBook document reader. Unfortunately, some of this content is not usable in all the LAWFUL WAYS [emphasis mine] a purchaser desires, due to access control mechanisms created by Adobe and adopted by content publishers to the detriment of their [LAWFUL] customers."

    He further notes that "Computer professionals who have examined [Adobe's access control mechanisms] have found them easy to defeat."

    He notes that his website is for discussion of purely technical information of interest to computer scientists and lawful content users. He is not interested in receiving rants about Adobe or the DMCA, suggesting that individuals go to the Boycott Adobe [boycottadobe.com] [and/or slashdot [slashdot.org] - grin] site for that.

    It is suggested that individuals wishing to submit TECHNICAL CONTENT first visit the site [cmu.edu] to see what others have already submitted to avoid unnecessary duplication (e.g. ElcomSoft, Xpdf, Ghostscript, etc).

    It is noted that there is yet no "Haiku" regarding Adobe's "easy to defeat" access control mechanism.


    Tangential Editorial Comment by RM3 Frisker FTN ... "Why don't people get as bent out of shape when the other Twenty-Six (?) Amendments are violated (e.g. Second Amendment???) [tuxedo.org]"


  • which states that software must not be bloated and slow. not only has adobe been found guilty of this but bill gates is wanted on half a dozen counts.
    ...dave
  • With all due respect, regardless of your perspective on the morality of this law, in the boundaries of the States, it is the law....right? Is it ok to break laws you don't personally care for?

    'okay'? No. Justified? Morally correct? Perhaps. It's a value judgement you have to make for yourself.

    The constitution is the supreme law of the land, and there is no reason not to be educated in that law. So, if in your judgement the DMCA is not compatible with the constitution, you may even be legally justified in not complying with that law.

    But don't expect that to save you from arrest and conviction, as the Supreme Court is the final arbitor of such issues.

    Thought experiment: The government passess a law which makes it a crime NOT to kill anyone over 50 years of age. You refuse, and therefore you go to jail. Legally it may be correct, but morally, ethically, personally, it is entirely inhuman and evil.

    Yes, that's an extreme example, but what I am pointing out is that you have an obligation to act as your best judgement dictates, regardless of the law.

  • Dmitry doesn't "own" the company that employs him, he works there. Would any of us want to be held accountable for our employer's behavior, however benign. While throwing Bill Gates in jail for Microsoft's behavior might seem reasonable, clearly throwing some low-level Microsoft programmer in jail for incompetent programming, or writing a piece of software used to illegally leverage Microsoft's monopoly, wouldn't be at all acceptable.
    You're not familiar with the concept of `corporate person', are you? The `employer' (the corporation) is legally responsible for bupkis!

    -grendel drago
  • Stanley sell crowbar's, Colt Sell gun's, Coates sell beer and Ford sell Car's.
    The crowbar's what? The gun's what? the car's what?
    Sorry for the OT rant, but this is really getting out of hand here on /.

    From a fortune:

    Dear Mister Language Person: What is the purpose of the apostrophe?

    Answer: The apostrophe is used mainly in hand-lettered small business signs to alert the reader than an "S" is coming up at the end of a word, as in: WE DO NOT EXCEPT PERSONAL CHECK'S, or: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ITEM'S. Another important grammar concept to bear in mind when creating hand- lettered small-business signs is that you should put quotation marks around random words for decoration, as in "TRY" OUR HOT DOG'S, or even TRY "OUR" HOT DOG'S.
    -- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"


  • by dmaxwell (43234)
    Laws GOOOOOOOD!
    Common Sense BAAAAAAAAAD!

  • He's being denied bail because the Feds say he'll flee the country. Which he would, being a smart guy. Once he got back to Russia, they'd have a hard time getting ahold of him.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:11AM (#64964) Journal
    He wasn't arrested for the speech. He was arrested for disseminating (for money) a program that broke Adobes' "encryption". It is the software that he is being persecuted, err, prosecuted, for. In theory, his speech had nothing to do with it, other than allowing the Feds to know where he would be so they could pick him up. In theory.
  • as a gun-owning techie, is all of the hullabaloo over the DMCA in this forum and how it spells the downfall for freedom.

    Law-abiding gun enthusiasts have been fighting for their rights for years now, with increasingly restrictive laws being passed year by year.

    Now, the DMCA is passed and the sky is falling.

    Newsflash, freedoms in a variety of areas (abortion, right to bear arms, freedom of speech -- including the right to code as an intellectual pursuit --, etc. ) are under continual assault in this country.

    Quit bitching and do something about it. Join the EFF and donate. The NRA gets a yearly donation from me.
    ----------------------------------
  • > Now, if I was the FBI and wanted to make sure this case stuck, I would have sent an undercover agent to offer to buy/borrow/copy the illegal contraband before making an arrest.

    Wouldn't that be entrapment? Or does this concept not apply when dealing with foreign nationals?

  • by cyberdonny (46462) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:10AM (#64970)
    ... you know what you have to do. Walk to your friendly neighbourhood police office, and file a criminal complaint against AZ-Graphics Co. for trafficking in fraudulent fair-use locked software. If enough such complaints are received, the police has to act in one way or another.
  • He wasn't arrested for the speech...It is the software that he is being persecuted, err, prosecuted, for.
    Software is speech. It is a string of symbols that transfer meaning. A computer program - in source or object form - is just as much a legitimate protected expression as is a photograph, a blueprint, a mathematical equation, or a dirty joke written in Linear B [islandnet.com].

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • "I have yet to hear a convincing argument that an absolutely perfect hassel free copy that can again be copied perfectly is required for any sort of "fair use"."

    You don't HAVE to hear a convincing argument. All you have to hear is a presentation by a guy who figured out how to circumvent some hokey obnoxious "protection" that was denying users their right to the content they purchased. Nobody said that it has to be hassle free or "perfect"...we just declare that once it IS figured out, you can't run crying to the government that somebody broke your invincible technological copyright "protection" measure. DMCA makes no sense. If it is illegal to "circumvent" a copyright control measure, why even HAVE the control measures??? Since you can slap any arbitrary code on something and call it copyright protection technology, why not just declare that it is illegal to do arbitrary things that we don't want you to do? Why even throw money into technology? It's ridiculous. My car hood could be an intellectual property protection device for chrissakes.
  • Maybe Adobe was just trying to get their hands on a talented programmer... ;)
  • He didn't; his company did. We don't arrest people for things their company does.
  • What you fail to take into account is that Katz has been writing about Civil Liberties since the beginning of WIRED magazine.

    Perhaps you remember the section called "The Netizen" in which he wrote some very pertinent articles about the growing use of the net in democracy, and free speech. Katz is one of the reasons that I care so much about Civil Liberties today. His articles made me realize how threatened that our rights are by these pork barrel politicians.

  • "Why don't people get as bent out of shape when the other Twenty-Six (?) Amendments are violated (e.g. Second Amendment???)"

    In a word: karma.

    One argument I constantly hear from gun lobbyists is that guns are necessary to protect the citizenry from an oppressive government. I don't believe them. The United States government has, over the years, perpetrated some of the worst acts of civil rights violations in the Western world, and the gun lobby has done nothing unless those "violations" had something to do with gun control. That's not championing rights, that's championing a tautology. (We need guns to protect our guns.)

    Look at what happened to foreign nationals during WW1. Look at what happened to political dissidents during the McCarthy era. Look at what happened during the Vietnam war. Look at what is happening today in the name of the so-called "war on drugs". Look at Dmitry Sklyarov, for heaven's sake.

    Why do people not get so bent out of shape when the "second amendment is violated"? Because the second amendment, and those championing "gun rights", have never protected their rights and they never will.

    So you'll excuse me if I feel no sympathy.

  • I know that what you wrote was a tangential editorial comment, so I'm not going to pretend that you meant it as a complete argument. However, I'd like to concentrate on one part:

    Closing, I ask "what if ..." there is a crack down such that code, crypto, foreign-films, unapproved websites, certain books, and such become NO-MORE. What happens next?

    That's simple. They'll get taken away and nobody will stop them, not even gun owners.

    Guns are supposedly there to protect the citizenry from an oppressive governments which violate human rights, but in reality, when the US has had oppressive governments which violate human rights (certainly they're violating human rights now), having guns didn't make any difference. Having an armed citizenry didn't protect those persecuted by McCarthy, it didn't protect 2600 Magazine, it didn't protect Kevin Mitnick, it is not protecting Dmity Sklyarov today and it will not protect the thousands more being denied fundamental civil rights in the name of the "war on drugs". That's because gun owners, on the whole, will only mobilise if there's a threat to gun ownership, and will certainly not mobilise in favour of "communists", "hackers", "drug users" or whoever the PR machine is painting as this week's bad guy.

    Gun owners, in general, don't believe in civil rights. They believe in a civil right. This is why I am not an anarchist.

  • With all due respect, regardless of your perspective on the morality of this law, in the boundaries of the States, it is the law....right? Is it ok to break laws you don't personally care for?
    In a free country, it is the obligation of citizens to disobey laws which are unconstitutional. It is not about laws that you do not care for, but about which laws that are themselves not legally passed.
    Wouldn't the more appropriate route be to move through your elected representatives to have this law repealed, or to work through an organization to challence the constitutionality of this law in court?
    It is not sufficient to work through the elected representatives, as they are the ones which illegally passed the law in the first place. It is appropriate to use the courts, but you do not have legal standing to take a case to trial until you have cause of action - that is to say, you have to be a victim of the law before you can challenge its constintutionality. You also have to have a lot of money. Please note that people with a lot of money are not typically arrested by the government under shaky laws.
    If something is perfectly legal where you live, but illegal in another jurisdiction, shouldn't you avoid that jurisdiction?
    That is the premise of federalism, which died in the US beginning after the Civil War, and particularly during and after the Great Depression. It is now the case that the Federal government routinely ignores the Constitution on fragile pretenses (such as defining anything that happens in more than one state, and which might theoretically effect the economy, as "interstate commerce" - this is how they justified passing Federal laws against guns on public school grounds, by the way). This means that only by giving up your citizenship (or at least residency) can you escape the jurisdiction. This is a matter of what is law. You may not like the way that the law is written. You might not like the way that the law is enforced. Neither is particularly relevant here. Send your comments and constructive criticism to your elected representative, or your local defender of freedom to get this law overturned. Don't simply break the law. If you do, you are likely to end up in jail. How does that help your cause of freedom? Anomaly BTW - God love you and longs for relationship with you. If you would like to know more about this, please contact me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com

  • While Dmitry remains in custody, I have not read the EFF (or any other organization/individual) will provide him counsel. Given the nature of the U.S. judicial system, it would be vital for Sklyarov to have extremely credible criminal defense attorneys.

    Taken from the EFFector Vol. 14, No. 15 (July 22nd 2001)

    EFF has been in contact with the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA)'s office trying to track Mr. Sklyarov's whereabouts and speak with him directly. While the arrest took place in Las Vegas, the complaint was executed in San Jose, meaning that Mr. Sklyarov will be sent to California to stand trial. We have spoken with his colleagues, criminal defense attorneys and others to help with his defense. After he arrives in California, our first order of business is to get Mr. Sklyarov out of jail on a bond pending his trial. EFF has begun to pull together a top-notch legal team to help him defend his right to talk about and distribute the Advanced eBook Processor software program, and we'll be ready to step in as soon as it is appropriate.

    Al.
    --
  • That's a little strong. I doubt the FBI still does everything they did back then. I doubt every public figure has as much information gathered about them as they did back then.
  • You're still missing the point. They were VERY, very, very paranoid back then. They make today's FBI look like amateurs. Remember this was at the height of the Red Scare! You remember those quotes that went somethign like, "We have to stop those evil Communists from spreading like the disease they are at all costs!"
    We were paranoid about anybody who even came close to a Communist idea. Thus, just about every public figure, and many more, ended up with a record in the FBI. The Red Scare is over. America is not that paranoid. Companies may be paranoid over other things, but the Red Scare is over.
  • He broke the law of the country he was in. Is the law a good law? Well, that's up for intepretation. But in the meantime, it's a law that's in the books. And it doesn't matter what the law is where he's from and where his company is based. While he's in the US he needs to adhere to US laws.

    Hell, if I went to a country that had laws that I didn't agree with, they'd have every right to jail me if I broke that law while I was in their country.

    If you went to a conservative Islamic country and broke a law of decency that your country didn't have, would you expect to be let off the hook because the law of your country is different? That doesn't excuse the behavior whether or not you agree with the law.
  • hmm.
    why didn't they just confiscate his passport? He's going to have a hard time getting on a plane without one. Never mind getting back into the CIS.

  • Dmitry wrote and published the software while in Russia. The only reason he could be arrested in the US was because his company sells the software using a US-based 'agent' to collect the $99 fee.

    Dmitry was not arrested because of his presentation at Defcon. If he had found the flaw and solely used this knowledge to publish papers and give speeches, he would likely not have been arrested- it's unclear whether publishing such information is unlawful under the DMCA, but it is clear that selling circumvention tools is a violation.

    His software company published an implementation of a routine that exploits the flaw to extract eBooks from Adobe's encrypted format. They sold the software via a US agent. This act left him vulnerable to US law enforcement.

    If you work for Jack Daniels in the USA making hard liquor, and visit an islamic country and do not bring any booze with you nor drink it there, would you expect to be arrested in their country because your activities in the USA violate their law of decency?

    If Jack Daniels sells whisky via mail-order directly to customers in islamic countries, it would behoove their executives not to visit those nations!

    When your actions are legal in your home country, and only performed in your home country, does excuse the behavior, and you should not be liable to arrest in a country where your actions would be illegal.

  • When I originally posted, it was not specifically to bash Katz. I am by no means a fan as I feel that he is not a very critical thinker when it comes to items pertaining to the world at large. The man infuriates me by his broad strokes of generalism trying to paint a picture more inspired by a need for sensationalism than a real critique or social commentary. I respect Katz for his opinions if they are truly his. I do not get the feeling, though, that he reached these conclusions by himself. His articles remind me more of a teenager trying to find his voice rather than a serious commentator secure in his convictions. In the end, I do not hate Jon Katz as I do not know him. I'm sure that to meet him and speak to him he has many competent and unique ideas. I do not get that from his writing. My original post was meant to bring to light the fact that I agree with his commentary this once. As for the Katz bashing... I bash Katz because he makes himself an easy target. Criticism fosters improvement, therefore maybe, just maybe, my comments will envoke upon him the need to re-evaluate his style. It is one thing to preach with authority, it is entirely different to try to be authoritative and yet only sound like the proxy of the true idea, a messenger if you will. As a member of this Internet "community" and also one of the generations in distress and the citizen of a country in turmoil, if Jon Katz is my spokesman I will do my part to make sure the people who read my post know I feel that most of the time this emperor has no clothes. Is this ego on my part, probably. Am I a royal ass for thinking this, maybe. Will I change my mind, no. But even for this entire rant, sometimes a sow's ear can be a silk purse. Katz did a nice job on this article, in my not so humble (cliche' spewing) opinion.
  • by wannabe (90895) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:11AM (#65000)
    I normally try not to read things by Katz as I find his line of thinking very unoriginal and often sensationalist.

    Although I have not changed my opinion, Katz has, this time at least, summed up my view on this situation quite well. I agree that there is a double standard and that the law needs to be changed.

    Katz may be late on the bandwagon, but I think he nailed the essence of the arguement.

    (There's just this part of me that refuses to believe it's really him and not some very insightful imposter.)

  • Sklyarov was not only speaking but actually selling the Elcomsoft product

    Actually this idea is flawed, and easily challenged.

    Stanley sell crowbar's, Colt Sell gun's, Coates sell beer and Ford sell Car's.

    So are the US authorities going to arrest everybody who produces and sell a product that can be miss-used ?

  • by jon_c (100593)
    Actaully as some people on this thread have posted, he was selling his eBook software at Defcon, so yes he was "trafficing" his "device" (damm, that almost sounds perverted).

    -Jon
  • by jon_c (100593) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:09AM (#65006) Homepage

    If the DMCA had been in existence in the l970s, the reporters and their employees could have been arrested under the exact same charges as Sklyarov -- stealing copyrighted material.


    no, he was arrested for trafficing a "copyright circumvention device" or as adobe puts it "digital lockpick".

    I was actually injoying your artical until that comment.

    -Jon
  • This is a crime folks

    The guy was arrested for creating and selling a device which breaks Adobe's "encryption".

    Lets suppose for a moment that Adobe had good encryption on their product, would we all be whining so much. Probably and that still isn't nessicarily illegal I realize. But not right either, the guy is trying to make money off of Adobe's work. That would piss me off a bit too

    I've also seen a ton of comment about Bush and Ashcroft how they will prosecute anyway because they are for the Corporate Republic blah blah blah. Lets remember that Bush didn't pass the DMCA- Clinton did! Ashcroft is doing his job by upholding a standing law. Personally I prefer politicians that don't selectively follow the law but uphold them no matter how bad they are until someone gets them changed..

    Dimitry broke a law plain and simple, and it wasn't to make some sort of statement, he didnt' release his product open source, he was doing it to make money. I'm sorry but /. needs a better martyr then this.


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • The underlying issue here is why should the government be protecting copyrighted material from not-for-profit pirating in the first place. Copyright is only for for-profit piracy protection, so what does that make our current laws, Copywrong?

    The problem is that IP corporations will almost always be hostile toward the public domain and public liberty. They cannot even EXIST without government might being behind them. I am not opposed to copyright law at all, but this is one area where I have to say that the principles, while not the law itself, of copyright law laid down by our founders in the first copyright law for the US hold true more than ever. The original law gave only limited protection and a maximum of 28 years (14 first then you could apply for an extension).

    Neither major party will ever properly address this issue. Taco et al. can deride the Republicans all they want, but the DMCA was a joint effort to screw us all over orchestrated equally by both parties and signed by a liberal democratic president. The naderite approach is equally insane: abolish the corporations. The corporations aren't at fault here, the government is. With sane copyright laws there would be no United States vs. Dmitry Sklyarov. Adobe only has so much power as the government gives it; take away that power and Adobe is no more powerful than you or I. Big government is at fault here. That is why we libertarians oppose big government. With a minimalistic government Adobe wouldn't have any recourse against Sklyarov.

  • by kreyg (103130) <kreyg@nospaM.shaw.ca> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @10:08AM (#65011) Homepage
    I spent most of last night drafting a letter to the Government of Canada. The central point with repsect to the "circumvention" requirement of the WIPO treaty, was that it is necessary to circumvent copy protection to use copy protected materials at all.

    The question then becomes, who is allowed to circumvent copy protection, and when? As a programmer skilled enough to bypass or circumvent copy protection, are there things I am not allowed to know? Are there programs I am not allowed to write? Corporations are allowed to write and sell circumvention technology so consumers can use copy protected material, but I, as a private citizen, am not allowed to create software that performs exactly the same function?

    Copy protection law moves copyright away from restrictions on copying of materials and towards control of the types of materials I am allowed to possess or create, since software to view copy protected materials is at its core no different from the material it is protecting.

    Our government seems clued in to some degree, but compliance with the WIPO treaty would seem to require contradicting common sense.

    Any feedback regarding this approach would be welcome.
  • IIRC, he made a PDF decryptor. Something that anyone that had xpdf sourcecode could probably write. And if IIRC again, it was a crippled version that was released publicly, that could only handle 25% of the document. Imagine what would have happened if he released a full version.
  • Yeah right. Adobe doesn't care that he was trying to make money off of it. They care that he was distibuting it. This would have happened either way. Unfortunately, Skylarov has lost his right to claim that he did it because information should be free. I hadn't realized he was trying to sell a decryption tool (that decrypts bastardized rot13 for christ's sake) for $99.

    That little nugget severly changed my view on the whole situation. While he shouldn't have been arrested, it's difficult to find sympathy for someone who is not much different from Adobe.

  • <devil's advocate>

    Don't forget though, it's also not up to me to save him.

    And to do the greatest good, I'd say let the case go on, the inconveniences of one man are meaningless compared to the civil liberties of all.

    </devil's advocate>

    I can see it both ways. I don't want the guy to suffer, but since he was SELLING the product, I don't feel as sorry that he may be the one to have to test the DMCA, as I would for someone who was doing it to give to the community.

  • Adobe DOES NOT CARE that he was trying to make money off of them. They care that he was attempting to ditribute the software. Their reaction would have been the same whether or not he was selling it or giving it away.

    He happened to be selling it, which in my eyes removes any sympathy he would have otherwised gotten. But a company cannot stop you from making money off of products that are compatible with theirs. We've allready been through that in this country over and over again. In this particular case he happened to be (maybe) breaking a bogus law and Adobe figured they had a way to get him through it.

  • But please, first correct the speeling mistakes, especially change there to their. You're a journalist for Christ's sake.
  • Ouch that's pretty ironic (speeling) <grin>
  • by 11223 (201561) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:15AM (#65096)
    He didn't make the *detailed* information behind exactly how to decrypt a PDF (e.g. an algorithm) public. He said that he did it, and offered to sell you his product.

    While I don't believe his offence warrants a stay in jail, why are defending him as if he was acting in the public interest? This isn't even DeCSS, folks. The source is *not* in your hands. You still have to purchase his product. Personally, I believe that this is open ground for a civil lawsuit between Adobe and Elcomsoft, and Adobe would be in the right: Elcomsoft has no right to *sell* products whose purpose is to disable Adobe's encryption, esp. when such knowledge was gained through reverse-engineering.

  • I think the point you make, that he was selling rather than simply presenting an academic paper, is an interesting one. But if there is one lesson to be learned from this, it is that impressions are far more important than facts in PR battles. This looks like a win for the EFF and anti-copyright folks everywhere not because Sklyarov is pure as the driven snow, but because his arrest happened in the context of an academic presentation. With 2600 magazine, the press had no way to describe these folks but as hackers, which put them on the defensive from the start against the well-polished MPAA, run by Valenti and his cronies. However, in the Felten case as in this one, people's impression is not that someone is profiting from mischief, but that the legitimate investigation of facts is being hindered by greedy corporations. That's why you never see any serious legal action against David Touretzky's mirrors [cmu.edu] of De-CSS on his website at CMU. It's suicide, from a PR perspective to attack someone whose motives are so purely free from profit. The fact that Sklyarov stood to profit (or rather, the corporation that employed him stood to profit) is just as irrelevant to the debate as the fact that the public doesn't understand what the folks from 2600 mean when they call themselves hackers. This is an important lesson for those of us who don't like the direction this country is going. The Ivory Tower of Academia may shield one from the realities of politics in a very important way.

    Bryguy

  • by AlphaOne (209575) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:15AM (#65102)
    Oy. I don't even know where to begin.

    Dimitry was not arrested for creating and selling anything. Go back and read what he's accused of.

    The only crime Dimitry commited within the United States was reverse-engineering an encryption system designed to protect copyright. This is a DMCA violation.

    If he is/was selling something in Russia, that's not the point here because United States laws do not apply in Russia. If Dimitry had commited a crime in Russia, then the Russian authorities would petition the United States to arrest him and return him to Russia for trial. That isn't the case here.

    I also can't see why you're turning this into a Democrat/Republican issue. Who cares who passed the DMCA?

    Vote your conscience instead of standing on "your side" of the isle.

    Ashcroft may be upholding a standing law, but he should use some common sense. What does it say about our foreign relations if someone comes to our country, gives a speech about an encryption system, and is then arrested? To make matters worse, a United States corporation, not a law-making entity, was the catalyst to the arrest!
    --
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:39AM (#65103)
    FYI, From the constitution:

    "The Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts . . . by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive rights to their respective writings and discoveries."

    limited times.

  • by sdo1 (213835) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @09:04AM (#65105) Journal
    Why not go to trial? Because we're not talking about "some Russian guy". He's a guy, with a family, in jail, away from home.

    It not up to you or anyone else to use him to test the DMCA. If he wants to, fine. But the sense I get from reading things is that he'd just like to go home and have this whole thing behind him.

    -S
  • by NecroPuppy (222648) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:11AM (#65115) Homepage
    No, the rights of the author and publisher are supposed to be balanced against the rights of the public. With the DMCA, the public loses their balance, as the publisher retains all the rights in perpetuity...

    The Constitution provided for a limited time for copyright. The DMCA takes that away by limiting access.
  • by Microsift (223381) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:07AM (#65120)
    Copyrights have superseded human rights in U.S. policy for some time now. China nearly lost most favored nation status over its abuse of copyrights a few years ago, but its abuse of human rights still goes unpunished.
  • by punkball (240859) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:16AM (#65140)
    Its not that he found the problem, people always do that. He was selling software that cracks it for $99. Did everyone forget that?
    -----------------------------------
    I don't think, therefore I'm not...
  • by Sheeple Police (247465) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:17AM (#65142)
    Sklyarov was guilty of offering a public presentation about software designed to prevent the piracy of e-books, meanwhile, publishing corporations have been lining up behind the record and movie companies to try to control intellectual property online -- at any cost.

    According to reports by TechTV, who was present at Defcon 9, Sklyarov was not only speaking but actually selling the Elcomsoft product. While I agree that what is at issue is the DMCA, and it's ability to silence anyone (or at least give companies the motive to try), lets get the facts straight here. If I design a bomb in Russia, where, for the sake of example we'll pretend it's perfectly legal, and I somehow get it past customs in the US, I can't very well sell it. While the plans might simply be "information" and somehow applicable to present under some journalistic and/or scientific auspice, I don't think you can argue that it's ok for me to sell the premade bomb as well.

    Note, this isn't how I view the whole Sklyarov situation, but one of the important things to remember when debating is put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to see things how they see it, no matter how corrupt and greedy that vision may be.
  • "With 2600 magazine, the press had no way to describe these folks but as hackers, which put them on the defensive from the start against the well-polished MPAA, run by Valenti and his cronies"

    I don't know if it was a hard choice for the press... After all, most of the major TV news media are owned by or own companies that are members of the RIAA or MPAA. Perhaps it'd be more accurate to state that because 2600 is what it is, that it was EASIER for the media to demonize them as "eevil hackers".

    Sklyarov is similarly easy to demonize because he's Russian, and Russia is where the media keeps telling us where many of those "eevil hackers" are from. Which is one reson why the silence is deafening on this case. Plus, unfortunately, there still exists a lot of cold war resentment towards Russia among common Americans.

    Professor Felten, however, is a different case. He's VERY hard to demonize, as a Princeton professor. Most of the news media elite like to think of themselves as coming from the Ivy League elite, and will have problems siding with their corporate bosses.

    This is one reason why the RIAA/SDMI cartel is running scared from that suit. They know they are going to lose, but they know that they got caught.

    Sad isn't it, that it's WHO you are, not the MERITS of your case that decides how much justice you get.
  • by Pop n' Fresh (411094) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:13AM (#65178)
    Which is that in Russia, where Elcomsoft is based and where the program was written, it's Adobe who is breaking the law, not Elcomsoft. Alexander Katalov of Elcomsoft says it all:

    "Actually, according to Russian law, it's sooner adobe's program that is illegal, in that it prevents one from using a bought and paid for product as the purchaser wishes. That's a violation of fair use. Also, at the time a user buys a book in Adobe's format a buyer isn't notified of these restrictions.

    I think Sklyarov's arrest was actually a good thing overall: people who normally could care less about this kind of thing are starting to ask questions about the DMCA.

  • by idonotexist (450877) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @08:17AM (#65188)
    As a recent Kuro5hin article suggest [kuro5hin.org], Dmitry's U.S. Adventure is far from over. With Adobe's apparent opposition to the criminal charges brought against Dmitry, we need to see the response of the U.S. Department of Justice.

    I would think if the U.S. continues to pursue this case, contrary to the wishes of Adobe and many Americans, then there should be opposition to the nomination of Robert Mueller for the head FBI job. His confirmation hearings begin July 30, and he is currently the U.S. Attorney in charge of the jurisdiction prosecuting Dmitry.

    While Dmitry remains in custody, I have not read the EFF (or any other organization/individual) will provide him counsel. Given the nature of the U.S. judicial system, it would be vital for Sklyarov to have extremely credible criminal defense attorneys.

    It will be curious to see if the same community which brought pressure upon Adobe, will bring the same pressure upon Robert Mueller during his hearings, if Dmitry remains in custody. So far, I have no seen no similar organizing or campaigning for Dmitry. Dmitry remains in charged with a criminal act and in custody.

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