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[ISN] Elcomsoft not guilty - DoJ retreats from Moscow
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 17/12/2002 at 23:55 GMT
The Russian software company which has found itself on trial in an
American court was acquitted on all counts of circumventing the DMCA
Elcomsoft's woes began in August last year, when programmer Dmitry
Sklyarov was charged under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's
circumvention 1201 clauses (one small part of which is under review by
the Librarian of Congress) while visiting Las Vegas for a technical
conference. Skylarov was imprisoned for his part in creating an Adobe
eBook reader that permitted fair-use of copyright material, and
imprisoned pending trial.
Facing a public backlash, Adobe urged not to prosecutors not to pursue
the case, and Sklyarov was freed last December in a deal where he
agreed to testify in the case against his employer. The US Department
of Justice picked up the reins.
While the prosecution compared Elcomsoft to Enron and tried to
implicate Sklyarov with US computer hacker networks. An outraged
prosecution attorney asked if Dmity had considered breaking the US
law. Skyarov, who lives and works in Russia, quite reasonably said
that at the time he couldn't care less.
During the trial, it emerged that Elcomsoft's clients include US
federal law enforcement agencies, and even Adobe itself.
The Judge asked the Jury to consider if the Elcomsoft had intended the
eBook reader to be used for copyright violation, and today the Jury
"Today's jury verdict sends a strong message to federal prosecutors
who believe that tool makers should be thrown in jail just because a
copyright owner doesn't like the tools they build," said EFF Senior
Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.
We'll get ya'! says the Business Software Alliance in its response to
"The DMCA has clear criminal penalties that can and should be imposed
in cases of direct or attempted theft of software and other digital
content - we would urge prosecutors to continue aggressively pursuing
alleged violations of the law," it said in a shameful statement that
willfully associates legal fair use with piracy. (Adobe is also a BSA
There's a long way to go. The DMCA is being used to prosecute a
Norweigian who wanted to play his DVD on Linux, and was recently cited
in a case that claimed price lists were trade secrets, and a
successful attempt to takedown a parody site.
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