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Sklyarov, Elcomsoft Plead Not Guilty 484

Posted by michael
from the if-the-bits-dont-fit,-you-must-acquit dept.
squared99 writes: "I'm sure it has already flooded slashdot, but Dmitri has entered his plea, not guilty. This NYTimes article talks about it. Not sure I like the mention of bumper stickers, as opposed to the real people who have been protesting, but at least it talks about the support he has been getting. It even appeared as one the main newsworthy item on my daily NYTimes newsletter, Yay! Let's keep up the support and protests. As my brother said to me the other day, "The only way to beat bullies is to stand up to them."" See also Elcomsoft's statement about the case, a story in the Boston Globe, and this cute fable about a DMCA future. Update: 08/31 19:37 PM GMT by M : one more link - the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned its programmers not to travel to the United States.
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Sklyarov, Elcomsoft Plead Not Guilty

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  • Burning Dmitry (Score:2, Informative)

    by zangdesign (462534) on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:27PM (#2240462) Journal
    This article [wired.com] on WIRED shows what is probably the general level of concern for most Americans. Especially the final quote.
  • by kjj (32549) on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:31PM (#2240485)
    The Russian Foreign Ministry is warning programmers not to go to the US or they could be arrested. Check out the story here [zdnet.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:39PM (#2240535)
    It may (and should) outrage all Europeans, but within a year, Dmitry's actions are going to be made illegal in Europe too. Yes, that's right - they've put together a DMCA in Europe called the European Union Copyright Directive. It bans circumventing encryption in the same way. In a year's time, all governments in Europe are obliged to enact it as law.

    We can still stop this! Check out here [eurorights.org] and if you're in Britain, write a letter to your MP [faxyourmp.com]. You can and should make a difference.

  • by NullPointer (6898) on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:46PM (#2240572) Homepage
    There is also a story at the NYTimes Russians Deem Arrest Insult to Their Industry [nytimes.com] that has some interviews with other Russian programmers and their take on the whole mess.
  • by M_Talon (135587) on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:47PM (#2240583) Homepage
    To those who were criticizing the not-guilty plea and saying he is guilty, this needs to be said. Had he went ahead and pleaded guilty, there would be no legal examination of the DMCA. He would have been fined and sentenced to prison, end of story. The United States NEEDS this examination of the DMCA, if for no other reason than to bring the flaws in the law to light in an official manner. It will be up to the courts to make the decision, and in the mean time, the issues surrounding the DMCA will hopefully become more public knowledge.

    I'm really saddened that Russia had to issue its advisory, but again maybe that will be a wake up call to everyone that there is something very very wrong with the way the DMCA is being enforced. One would hope that we can settle the issue internally before it becomes more of an international issue than it already is. The US preaches so much about "human rights" and begs for other countries to "do the right thing" even though their laws are written differently. It's time we practice what we preach.
  • by furiousgeorge (30912) on Friday August 31, 2001 @03:49PM (#2240592)
    >>despite the fact that he knowingly and >>willfully comitted an act of copyright
    >>infringement.

    Don't be obtuse.

    First - the 'crime' occured in another country.

    Second - he didn't commit copyright infringement. He developed a tool. If i go down to the library, take a book and photocopy it, does that mean Xerox (and it's engineers) are guilty of 'copyright' infringement. No it doesn't. For the same reason a gun manufacturer isn't guilty of murder if i shoot somebody in the head. For the same reason if i take a hammer and break into your house, Sears isn't guilty of break and enter. If i burn a copy of a friends CD, HP (the manufacturer of my burner) isn't guilty of copyright infringent.

    Don't confuse a tool and the use of a tool. Why should this case be treated differently because it deals with bits instead of physical objects. It's EXACTLY the same as the Xerox example.

    And i won't even go into the agument about how the DMCA tramples other established rights.
  • by Xanlexian (122112) on Friday August 31, 2001 @04:03PM (#2240692) Homepage
    Just a quick note --- We're (the USA) a republic, not a democracy.

    --Xan
  • by Bluesee (173416) <michaelpatrickkenny@NOSPAM.yahoo.com> on Friday August 31, 2001 @04:07PM (#2240713)
    That story about Derek was funny, and it reminded me of the book I am currently reading, The Gulag Archipelago, by Solzhynetsin (sp!). That non-fictional story is an account of how power can corrupt, basically. The problem in Stalinist Russia was that the Reds were, if I have this right, basically trying to create a new society the ideology of which was vulnerable to the thoughts of objective people who could see the shortcomings of it. In their effort to control thought, the officials found it necessary to root out all possible instances of anti-communist behavior; unfortunately this included such things as not reaching the party farm production objectives (ten years in prison for not growing enough grain!) and not surrendering to German armies in WWII (when the POWs were returned to the SU in '45 - by Churchill, incidentally, against the soldiers' wills - rather than being welcomed back as heroes, they were arrested, tortured, and given 10-yr sentences, since they must have been spies to have survived the German camps!). Basically, Stalin, in his paranoia, and by extension the entire nation, found it necessary to control behavior by draconian means.

    My point (and I do have one) is that the enforcement of infinitesimally minute behaviors requires the rooting out and punishing of the majority of the citizens of a nation: the mother country goes to war on its citizens. The way to do this is to put each and every citizen at risk of loss of liberty; i.e., each citizen is breaking some law or another. In this manner, the State gains control over the behavior of its population, and in a greater degree than just copying ebooks. Once you have copied an ebook, or, taken to the logical extreme, say, exceeded 55 mph (or snuck a beer into a college football game), you are a criminal.

    But, while speeding doesn't leave a record of itself, ebook copying does and so leaves a legacy, a record of the crime. It can be likened to arresting you for a failed drug test; you are not doing a crime now, but there is proof that you once did.

    For these reasons, the framers of the Constitution would wisely refrain from endorsing the bastardization of their concept of protection of Science and Arts through copyright. The prosecution of the law requires that we become Stalinist in the degree to which we must root out the crime. Napster points this out effectively, in my opinion: the only way to catch all those crimes is to monitor each and every terminal 24/7. And that gives away too much power to the government for freedom to be guaranteed, even in a Democracy.

    If you didn't follow that, feel free to email me with any questions you might have...

  • by VValdo (10446) on Friday August 31, 2001 @04:29PM (#2240811)
    It is starting to get some national coverage...aside from the NYTimes story there are also these two:

    Time Magazine [time.com]
    Newsweek [msnbc.com]

    W

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2001 @05:14PM (#2241013)
    And you needn't wait for the legislature to set you free, if the judge fails to do that it is well within the power of any jury to declare the law not valid in the instance of your particular case: http://www.fija.org/
  • by eddy (18759) on Friday August 31, 2001 @05:37PM (#2241097) Homepage Journal

    Many of the issues here are discussed in a recent report:

    M. Skala. "New Media Copyright Extensions Would Harm Canada [sooke.bc.ca]", Aug 2001

    It is a long read for the weak, but it clear and to the point as to why "laws" such as the DMCA is a bad idea, giving a short history of copyright and a summary of recent events in the world of IP/DRM. I believe it can help people focus their arguments.

  • by Wah (30840) on Friday August 31, 2001 @06:15PM (#2241247) Homepage Journal
    It will be the insurance companies.

    It is also the defense companies. I can't look up the story I read about it (dang dial-up), but basically it was about the installation of speed monitoring cameras set-up in Wash, D.C. They had generated nearly $37 million for the city by snaggin every speeder. The fun part is that Lockheed Martin (IIRC) set them up for free...with a 35% take of the total revenue generated. So once, we start moving to a corporate police state, no one can break a law (get tough on "crime"), and ho boy will profits go through the roof.

    Bush might see this as "saving the economy", but a 5 year old would probably see it as cutting open the goose to get the golden egg. Our system worked because of Freedom, capitalism was a stepping stone (and a dang useful one at that, but it has its downsides, see: our media, MS, RIAA, drug corps ad'ing on TV selling drugs no one needs until they think they do, the death of education, and yes, there's an etc. here too).

  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Friday August 31, 2001 @07:25PM (#2241476)
    The court's duty is to enforce the existing law, not to ratify or amend it. As I understand American law, the judge is not at liberty to simply say, "Well, this law is clearly unfair. Therefore we'll just have to release Mr. Skylarov."

    Are you high?!

    That was, honestly, my first gut response to your message. You're operating under a critical, severe misunderstanding of how American jurisprudence works.

    1. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
      No ifs, ands or buts here. The Constitution is this nation's highest law; so high, in fact, that it automatically trumps any other law which comes into conflict with it.
    2. No unconstitutional laws exist.

    3. This is actually a little judicial fiction that lawyers tell themselves, because unconstitutional laws are passed on a regular basis. However, the instant that a judge finds a law to be in conflict with the Constitution--i.e., there's a formal finding by a court that a law is inconsistent with the nation's highest law--then the law in question is not merely voided. If it were voided, that would mean at one point it was enforceable. Laws which are held to be unconstitutional are retroactively erased; they are invalid ab initio, from the very beginning. Is the law unconstitutional? If so, then that law doesn't exist and, more to the point, never existed in the eyes of the court.
    4. The judge must uphold the law.
      A judge is responsible for seeing to it that the laws are properly applied--including the Constitution, the nation's highest law. A judge who will not judge laws for Constitutional correctness is a judge who is utterly incompetent for the bench, and who needs to be impeached.
    ... If the DMCA violates any of Dmitry's rights under the Constitution--and note that he has a hell of a lot of rights, even though he's a foreigner--then that's it; game over; prosecution loses.
  • by snogwozzle (512804) on Friday August 31, 2001 @08:13PM (#2241636)
    Senator Feinstein sent me a form response (see below) to my DMCA letter, and I find it unsatisfactory in the extreme. So I sat down to write her back, and thought some of you might find the result worth reading.

    Dear Senator Feinstein,

    First, thank you for considering the Digital Millennium Copyright Act issue important enough to develop a response for it.

    When I first wrote you, I implored you to become active in seeking appropriate adjustments to address the worst excesses of the DMCA. I am sorry to say that I have been hoping for a more substantial reply than the one I received.

    Yes, everyone agrees that a digital economy requires legal protections. But in any effort there is always the question of how much is enough, how much is too much, and what is lost by doing too much. News developments since I first wrote you make it more and more clear every day that the DMCA went too far, and, now that criminal enforcement has begun, that it is beginning to trounce the legitimate activity and normal relations of the technology ecosystem, is chilling public speech, and is distorting markets. Russian grad student Dmitry Sklyarov is facing 25 years in a US prison, plus a $2.5 million fine for writing a computer program in another country. I'm sure you're aware that today the Russian government issued a warning to Russian computer technologists that they should not travel to the US because they risk imprisonment! Encryption researchers have begun to resort to anonymity when publishing their results, even in other countries. The situation is quite drastic, global in scope, and I must say requires closer examination and more action than your reply would indicate you plan to take.

    The constitutional copyright mandate is for Congress to provide laws to ensure adequate compensation for creators to bring new works forth -- not to guarantee every possible compensation for every imaginable use of every copy of every work. You analogize intellectual property rights to physical property rights, but any copyright scholar will tell you that intellectual property rights have never entailed the same kind of rights as physical property rights, and for good public policy reasons (see for example the writings of Jefferson). I should be able to listen to the CDs I buy on my computer and in my car without paying again. I should be able to watch a DVD I buy in England when I get home without paying again. I should be able to watch a DVD I buy on my computer, even if it's a Linux computer without a CSS player. I should be able to back up my e-books without having to pay again. When the DMCA went too far, I lost those rights. I also lost my ability to protect myself against the objectionable practices of the copyright industries, whose interests are, after all, different from mine as a consumer. If I were to try to regain my rights, simply by using my ordinary computer industry skills, I could go to prison for 5 years per each copied item. This is not piracy. This is not bootlegging. This is not mass duplication. Let those stay illegal. This is basic consumer rights.

    To my mind, the most egregious aspect of the DMCA is that by criminalizing the circumvention of access control technologies even for media that the consumer has bought and paid for (and no matter how flimsy the protection), the Act requires the American people's own government to act against them, as enforcer of the copyright industries' purely self-serving business initiative to get them to pay for every movie, program, song, and book over and over and over again -- ultimately, to pay for every single access. Imagine your home library with a coin-operated lock on every book. That is our future if the DMCA is not amended.

    So I respectfully ask you again, at a minimum, to clarify your position as to whether you will help to adjust the areas where the DMCA is clearly excessive, or whether you will oppose such efforts. I would like to think that you can appreciate the gravity of the situation, and the depth of the discontent of your technically-minded constituents, and will act in the people's interest.

    In considering this question, please don't accept at face value the copyright industry's self-serving assertion that only perfect protection will prevent economic collapse in movies, music, publishing, and software. In the DMCA, America traded away the rights of consumers and the free speech rights of technologists in order to achieve a 'perfect protection' scenario by inventing draconian criminal penalties for otherwise ordinary and accepted activities. But cryptographers know very well that perfect protection is impossible, and always a red herring. 'Pretty Good Protection' -- meaning relying on ordinary civil copyright protection, and reserving draconian criminal penalties only for those who mass-distribute copies that could replace sales -- is good enough to keep the copyright industries in business, and just as profitable as they have been, without requiring us to trounce consumer rights and throw our brightest programmers and researchers into prison.

    I know that the studio heads in Hollywood are your constituents, but please keep in mind that you also represent the young technologists who work in Silicon Valley. Please, reconsider adjusting the anti-circumvention aspects of the DMCA.

    Sincerely,
    --- Snogwozzle
    Bay Area, California

    Dear Mr. Snogwozzle:

    Thank you for writing to me about the Digital Millennium
    Copyright Act.

    I have always believed that the protection of intellectual
    property rights is as important as the protection of any other
    property right. Moreover, the protection of intellectual property is
    vital to a flourishing economy -- particularly in California.
    America's music, movie, and software industries are second to
    none, and we export far more intellectual property than we import.
    This is good for employment, and good for consumers.

    Without strong copyright protections, the incentive to
    innovate would be diminished. In fact, this issue was so important
    to the Founding Fathers that the ability of Congress to protect
    copyrights is actually written into our Constitution itself.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was Congress'
    attempt to address the issue of copyright protection in a new,
    digital age. As new technologies have developed over the past few
    years, it has become increasingly difficult to protect intellectual
    property from illegal copying and distribution. It is a delicate
    balance, to be sure -- nobody wants to restrict the development of
    new and exciting technologies, but we must work to prevent the
    creation of perfect, digital copies of copyrighted works which can
    be illegally distributed throughout the world.

    Please be assured that I understand your concerns, and I
    will keep your views in mind.

    If you have other questions or comments, please do not
    hesitate to write to me again, or contact my Washington, D.C. staff
    at (202) 224-3841.

    Sincerely yours,

    Dianne Feinstein
    United States Senator
  • by meldroc (21783) <meldrocNO@SPAMfrii.com> on Friday August 31, 2001 @08:26PM (#2241679) Homepage Journal

    Two of the nightmare examples stated in this thread have already come true. The state of Indiana will ticket drivers on their toll highways if the timestamps on their toll cards indicate they were driving faster than the speed limit, and Progressive Insurance has been testing a system where the insuree has a GPS device installed in their car, ostensibly for an insurance discount. If the car is driven at night, or through a bad neigborhood, premiums go up. Acme Auto Rental has been slapping people who speed in their rental cars with surcharges automatically added to their credit card bill.

    Smile for the unblinking camera and welcome to Hell.

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