Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government News Your Rights Online

Dmitry Sklyarov Gains High-Profile Defense Lawyer 228

Posted by timothy
from the representations dept.
Diesel Dave writes: "There's an article on Law.com about Dmitry Sklyarov's new Lawyer. Renowned San Francisco defense attorney John Keker has agreed to represent the Russian programmer pro bono. Keker is quoted as saying: "I think he is being unjustly accused and that's the kind of case I like to do." and "[The Government is] always welcome to dismiss the case, but we didn't come in to make a plea deal." This gives me the impression he has full intensions of fighting this to the end. Good."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dmitry Sklyarov Gains High-Profile Defense Lawyer

Comments Filter:
  • ... but that lawyer is COOL!

    I guess there are a few decent people working as lawyers out there after all...

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:25PM (#2371014) Homepage

    Given the current anti-tech rage being promoted in the US media this is a brave decision which should be applauded. While it is quite clear that this is a ridiculous case these are rapidly becomming ridiculous times.

    "Ex-Commie tries to undermine US companies" is an all to easy headline to imagine. Its excellent that he has this defence lawyer, that should drive him into freedom, but the fact remains that the Don't Mind Capitulating Act is liable to get stronger rather than weaker... will Bush make this the one case where there isn't a back door to cryptography... probably.

    This sort of thing is part of the reason why the US is now in recession, the driving of large corporations at the expense on innovation.
    • Very true.

      Very brave, considering that "hackers" may soon be labelled [bbc.co.uk]as dangerous terrorists.

    • What I am afraid of is the labeling the term "terrorist hacker!". Ashcroft wants hackers to be prosecuted as possible terrorists and information warfare is on the governments as well as on everyone else's mind. In the physc. of todays jurists and the temptation to use this label by the governments lawyers, I fear he may falsely accused and given perhaps I maximum sentance because of fear.

      I know this might sound a little irrational but Americans right now are scared to death about evil "hackers" whom may or may not have something to do with terrorism. The taliban is threatening us right now with a pearl harbor equilivant with info warfare if we invade their country. I think we should stop using the term "hacker" to brilliant programmers. I know the proper term is cracker but the media as well as our language has the term hacker mingled with cracker. Perhaps the term "software engineer" would work better in court. It not only sounds non threatening but it also sounds professional and that is who we are. Not terrorists.

  • by hillct (230132) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:31PM (#2371035) Homepage Journal
    It's important that prescident setting cases of this sort are tried by the best available trial atourneys, such that the prescident that will be set can be looked upon as binding, regardless of which way the case goes. I'm suprised that more nationally renowned defense atourneys weren't all over this case from the start. It's nice to have good news in this case once in a while

    --CTH
    • by nachoworld (232276) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:50PM (#2371107) Homepage
      Why is the U.S. such a big believer in precedents? No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S. If we can get over our precedents maybe we wouldn't have to worry so much about the future. Things can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

      That way cases like Bowen v. AHA (courts allowed Down's Syndrome patient to die from an easily curable gastric obstruction because the parents asked the doc not to operate *wink, wink*) won't really matter in the future.

      There will always be cases that make bad precedents for the future. The AHA had a good lawyer (probably Keker caliber) and they successfully defended themselves. Who's to say which is the "right" precedent to establish in a case. Maybe if we didn't hold on so strongly to precedents...
      • If it wasn't for the use of precedents, we'd have to live with laws Congress as wrote them. I'm not sure that's any better than relying on courtroom precedents.

        -Paul
      • The US has poorly written laws. Our legislatures seem to be unconcerned with writing laws that are easy to interpret, so our courts have to decide what they should mean. Also, laws are never overturned (to my knowledge) for being ambiguous. Don't you hate that?
        • Re:The reason is... (Score:2, Informative)

          by ca1v1n (135902)
          It's rare for a law to be overturned because of ambiguity, because an ambiguous law usually has something clearly wrong with it in at least one reasonable interpretation, and thus can be struck down as "overbroad". It happens all the time.
      • Why is the U.S. such a big believer in precedents? No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S. If we can get over our precedents maybe we wouldn't have to worry so much about the future. Things can be decided on a case-by-case basis.


        It's called "Common Law". It makes it so the legislature doesn't have to write laws about EVERY SINGLE LITTLE DINKY THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED AND THAT COULD HAPPEN.

      • by Jason Pollock (45537) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:34PM (#2371267) Homepage
        No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S.

        How about the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and any other common law based country? Their entire system of law is based around the body of prior court decisions.

        Precedent is powerful. It demonstrates what the higher courts decided was meant by the law, because they let the decisions stand...

        Jason Pollock
      • Why is the U.S. such a big believer in precedents? No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S. If we can get over our precedents maybe we wouldn't have to worry so much about the future. Things can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

        First of all, other countries do rely on precedent, and in fact, many even rely on US precedent.

        But the real answer is that because judges aren't elected, the Court room is not the place to battle back and forth on controversial issues. The Courts are supposed to provide stability and predictability in the law. The idea of judges essentially changing the law on a "case by case" basis is much more frightening. Legislatures "overturn" judicial decisions all the time by passing new legislation, and this is the prefered method in a democracy to change disliked precedent.

        Finally, you shouldn't overstate the value of precedent. It only binds courts directly under the jurisdiction of the decision. The Federal Circuit courts often do disagree. In fact, the Supreme Court often won't take a case unless conflict exists in the Circuits. In fact, sometimes even this isn't enough. Currently, there is conflict among the circuits on the Constitutionality of race based university admissions policies, but the Supreme Court still denied to hear the latest case.
      • In a judicial system that does not respect precedents of higher courts, jurisprudence devolves to anarchy. Think of how (much more) easy it would be to corrupt the judicial process if judges didn't have to respect higher (and peer) judges' decisions.

        A hierarchy of judicial authority goes hand in hand with the right to appeal your case to a higher court, and both are critical.

      • by jcr (53032)
        Why is the U.S. such a big believer in precedents? No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S.

        Sure they do. Ever hear of the British Common Law (on which much of the American system is based)?

        -jcr
      • Why is the U.S. such a big believer in precedents? No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S. If we can get over our precedents maybe we wouldn't have to worry so much about the future. Things can be decided on a case-by-case basis.
        This is because the US is a primitive country; it stills relies on customary law, just like any stone-age tribe in Africa. Like in all anglo-saxon countries, the law is determined by the most powerful people. So, the one with the biggest lawyer wins, because he alone is able to wage the long and costly battle to push his agenda ahead.

        More evolved countries, such as France, have civil codes which precisely detail the legal relationships without having to go to extreme lengths of judicial spelunking in court archives and records to find precisely the jurisprudence needed.

        • ...this distinction is one of the first covered in law school. The U.S., being a common law country (in general), deals with precedence.

          Important note: Louisiana is a civil law state, NOT a common law state, because of their French heritage.

          And while the nature of France as an "evolved" country is certainly debatable (and quite possibly laughable), it is necessary to remind readers of this [slashdot.org] (slashdot.org). It is difficult to take seriously an argument that advances French handling of technological issues, when we so recently had to deal with them insisting that Yahoo! could and WOULD block all French access to certain auctions.
      • Think of a hypothetical new law outlawing unsafe toys (kids might swallow parts, etc.). There may well be such a law already, but let's ignore that for now :-)

        Now one way to craft such a law would eb to define in detail what harmful means. For instance, where I live, the rule for deck and stair railings is that a 4.5 inch (I think) ball can't pass through, on the grounds that you don't want small toddlers toddling over the deck edge.

        However, for kids toys, there are so many variables (squishy? strange shaped? sharp?) that any such alw owuld be pretty complex, and would need constant revision as new hazards were discovered (not chemically inert, too rough, ...). And you know there would be companies taking advantage of these loopholes and lawyers all too willing to back them up.

        I believe that's how France's Napoleonic Code works.

        What English-based countries have is Common Law. The law itself is vague, and prcedent sets the details. The end result is the same. Think of precedent as minor revisions of the law in the spirit of the legislature's wisdom.

        I personally like common law slightly better. It is more amenable to bogus precedent, but legislatures can come back and clarify what they meant. The main benefit is that precedent is subject to higher court appeal, so any precedent outside the scope of the legislature's intent is generall discarded sooner or later. Meanwhile, the legislature doesn't feel the urge to revise laws quite so often, thus lessening the temptation to change the law altogether in bizarre ways.
      • Two points:

        • As others have pointed out, the doctrine of precedent applies in all common law countries (and in a few other legal system).
        • We aren't hoping to set a precedent, we're trying to get a particular law ruled as being unconstitutional, i.e. it was beyond the power of Congress to make such law, so they shouldn't have made it in the first place. If we also set a favourable precedent on how the US Constitution is interpreted w/ regard to digital rights law, then that's an added bonus. At any rate, Congress will think twice before passing such draconian laws again (at least for digital righs issues, they might still try something stupid in some other area down the line).

        Finally, if you want an example of a legal system that doesn't have a doctrine of precedent, try French civil law. Litigation in France can be a nightmare (especially the appeals process), and people have figured out that, hey, if judges just make up the law on a case-by-case basis, then the law is subjective and incoherent, and that's not good. Thus, we're beginning to see the adoption of a de facto doctrine of precedent in France.

        • > At any rate, [if the Supremes declare DMCA unconstitutional] Congress will think twice before passing such draconian laws again (at least for digital rights issues [...]

          Thanks, dude. That was the best laugh I've had all day.

      • No other country determines case outcomes based on precedent as strongly as the U.S.

        Precedent is the basis of the English common law system, in use in many countries around the world: for example, England, Australia, Singapore, Canada... need I go on?

        The idea is, if you have a precedent-based system, people don't need to go to court so much: they already know what will happen there.

        Argue with the idea if you like, there are problems with it. But the English did it first, and IMO are bigger sticklers for precedent than the U.S. ever was.

      • Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

        People don't like the fact OJ got off because his lawyers goaded the jury into an emotional act of nullification. What if this were the normal way to win cases -- based purely on the eloquence and persuasiveness of your lawyer?

        How would your lawyer advise you to act if you weren't sure of the legality of something? With precedence, he can tell you whether certain things are safe or not safe based on past court findings. Without it, you're completely at sea; it all depends on who you can hire vs. what the opposition can hire. "You're OK if the opposition hires Alice, because she's hopeless at this kind of case; if they've got Bob you'll have to watch out for certain pitfalls that are his specialty in exploiting, and if they get Charlie you're toast."

        Precedence provides a needed element of stability and predictability into our legal system. Of course sometimes bad precedents get set, which is why we have legislative options up to and including a constitutional amendment.

    • by Gorimek (61128)
      It seems to me that there is a problem with high tech in a precedent based judical system. Common law seems to be based on the assumption that things pretty much stay the same.

      The first case to be determined regarding some new and revolutionizing tech development is bound to be heard by judges and lawyers who aren't familiar with it, probbaly somewhat scared and confused by it, and when the full consequences of it is not understood. That sounds like the wirst possible time and way to determine how to handle it in all future.

      What happened to the law that cars could only drive 5 mph and have a guy with a red flag walking in front of it?
  • This is some of the best news I've heard in some time.

    Thank you, Mr. Keker.
  • Bravo! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pschmied (5648) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:39PM (#2371059) Homepage
    This is really good news. I really hope that Dmitry Skylarov can go home to Russia soon.

    On a side note, this case has gotten much more attention in international circles than it has in the US.

    At my university I've met a woman from Ukraine who claims that for a while, atleast, there was daily coverage of the Skylarov predicament in the Ukrainian newspapers. Much like our terrorist coverage continues to dominate the news here in the land of the home, and the free of the brave.

    For a moderately non-technical person, she seemed to have a very good grasp of the issues, albeit with a touch of (IMHO justified) "the US is doing this because they can" spin.

    Well, I digress. Congrats, Dmitry. I hope you make it back to Russia before I visit there this winter.


    -Peter

    • by Lethyos (408045) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:56PM (#2371134) Journal
      I really hope that Dmitry Skylarov can go home to Russia soon.

      Yes! Go home! Quick, Dmitri, go back to Russia! Your presense here is showing Americans how stupid our legal system is and our people can't possibly remain ignorant for much longer! Shoo! Shoo!
    • For a moderately non-technical person, she seemed to have a very good grasp of the issues, albeit with a touch of (IMHO justified) "the US is doing this because they can" spin.



      Sometimes, just sometimes, spin is true.

  • by dbolger (161340)
    "I think he is being unjustly accused and that's the kind of case I like to do."

    Tut tut that was an obvious error, what he really said was:
    "I think this is a well-known case that I can use to increase my public profile, and therefore my rate of pay for other, subsequent clients, and that's the kind of case I like to do."

    • He _does_ have a point. I mean, if I were unjustly accused, it's not likely to be a high-profile case, so I don't have enough $$$ to get Keker. OTOH, this is probably a case an Idealist would love, too, since this is a chance to make a big impact on fixing an unjust law. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He gets a chance to do something good for the rule of law, and gets famous for doing it.

    • Nicely cynical - I like that.
      However, do remember that this is the guy who went against one of the tightest closed-doors self-defending lie-if-we-need-to institutions in the land in the outrageously high-profile North case. He's already reached the big time, _and_ he's perfect for the job. This is about as good as it gets at this stage of procedings/

      FatPhil
  • Article's Text (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:41PM (#2371067)
    Russian Programmer Dmitry Sklyarov Gains High-Profile Defense Lawyer

    Substitution adds twist to cyber-cause celèbre

    Shannon Lafferty
    The Recorder
    October 1, 2001

    Renowned San Francisco defense attorney John Keker has agreed to represent indicted Russian computer programmer Dmitry Sklyarov on a pro bono basis.

    Keker's decision to represent Sklyarov, believed to be one of the first to be criminally charged under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, could put an end to speculation that a plea deal is in the works.

    Keker of Keker & Van Nest won't say whether any plea offers are on the table but said he wasn't brought aboard to cut a deal.

    "They are always welcome to dismiss the case, but we didn't come in to make a plea deal," Keker said Thursday. "We are here to deal with the defense of the case and to win it."

    Sklyarov, 26, is accused of writing a program for his Russian employer ElcomSoft that allows people using Adobe Systems Inc. eBook software to copy and print digital books, transfer them to other computers and have the text read aloud by the computer.

    Keker, whose past cases include the prosecution of Lt. Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal, said he was approached to take Sklyarov's case but did not elaborate further. Keker said he took the case pro bono because he felt Sklyarov was unfairly targeted.

    "I think he is being unjustly accused and that's the kind of case I like to do," Keker said Thursday.

    Defense attorney Joseph Burton was initially retained to represent Sklyarov but is withdrawing to represent co-defendant ElcomSoft.

    Since Sklyarov was arrested in July at a convention in Las Vegas, programmers and technology companies have publicly criticized the prosecution. The alleged victim, San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems, which initially reported Sklyarov and his Russian employer to the U.S. Attorney's office, has said it no longer supports prosecution.

    Both sides are currently conducting discovery. Keker said he and his team will be working "to understand Adobe's role and determine whether or not it's proper."

    Colleen Pouliot, Adobe senior vice president and general counsel, did not return calls.

    Former prosecutors have said that Adobe's decision to distance itself from the case makes it tougher for the U.S. Attorney's office.

    "Unlike traditional crimes, where you have an individual or an institution as the victim, tech crimes enter into a new area because all the government has to rely on is the expertise of the company," said Stephen Freccero, a former prosecutor now with Morrison & Foerster's San Francisco office. "Generally, they are the kinds of cases the government wouldn't even know about if they hadn't been contacted by the victim," Freccero added in a recent interview.

    Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which promotes cyber-rights, have been critical of the prosecution from the start, saying the DMCA wasn't intended to criminalize software like Sklyarov's.

    Meanwhile, observers have said Adobe's about-face has put the U.S. Attorney's office in a tough situation. If it drops the charges, the office may seem ill-equipped to handle the high-tech, white-collar crimes it has vowed to go after. If it goes ahead with an unpopular prosecution, it could alienate high-tech companies whose assistance it needs to develop other cases.

    Sklyarov, who is out on bail, will appear in San Jose federal court Nov. 26 for a pretrial hearing. If convicted, he could face five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:52PM (#2371113) Journal
    Not that I find fault with it, but Mr. Keker has just as much to gain from representing Dmitri as Dmitri himself. Keker will gain a great deal of press and attention, whether or not he wins the case. Dmitri on the otherhand, now has a fighting chance at getting off clean from this injustice.

    Hopefully, this is the kind of trend we can expect. As the open source and free speech movements (funny you have to think of it in those terms these days - thought we already had that one down) become more and more publicized, we may see more and more lawyers jump into the fray on our behalf for their benefit.

    Again, not a bad thing, but we don't want to be misguided into thinking that these lawyers working pro bono support our causes. They just as soon would take a $1M check from Microsoft.
    • by startled (144833) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:06PM (#2371178)
      Actually, he's already high-profile enough that he doesn't need the advertising. He can already pretty much name his fee.

      Sure, maybe he can charge a couple more bucks-- but that'll hardly balance out with what he would've made charging a different client during the hours he spends on this case. And sure, maybe he enjoys being in the papers; and maybe his clients expect that from him.

      But basically, he's already got plenty of money, and his practice is plenty successful. If he were just in it for the money, he wouldn't take this case. You'll find that a lot of defense attorneys (and prosecutors) really care about what happens to their client. Sure, Keker's probably not some anti-DMCA zealot, but he wouldn't have taken this case if he didn't think Sklyarov's prosecution was unjust.

      Yes, cynicism is good, and with lawyers, it's doubly important. :) But contrary to popular belief, most of them are not soulless, money grubbing ambulance chasers.
      • But contrary to popular belief, most of them are not soulless, money grubbing ambulance chasers.

        Thank you for validating my cynical nature yet all the while, sharply reminding me of this very good point. You're definitely right - my own lawyer, a man by the name of Karl Pfeffer, is a truly remarkable and respectable human being. I've become close friends with him since I enlisted his service and that of two of his peers a couple years ago.

        It's easy to speak coarsely of a lawyer (or anyone for that matter) whom you have not met or know personally. As for Mr. Keker, I respect and applaud his act and wish him luck in this endeavor while at the same time, I hope he does in fact benefit from taking this on. Everyone should have fruits for their labor.

        My goal with this comment may have been misconstrued, however. In brief, I mean that we have to be careful, in broad terms, to not become complacent. There are a lot of people and organizations supporting our ideals. Lawyers are certainly there, but also think about large companies that are involved with free speech ideals.

        Take IBM, for example. Lots of devotion lately to Linux, but that's far from their bottom line. They benefit from OSS just as much as we do, but most likely, their returns to the community are just for good press. Their bottom line is profit, nothing more, and they should not be so readily trusted.
        • > Take IBM, for example. Lots of devotion lately
          > to Linux, but that's far from their bottom line.
          > They benefit from OSS just as much as we do,
          > but most likely, their returns to the community
          > are just for good press. Their bottom line is
          > profit, nothing more, and they should not be so
          > readily trusted.

          I think you rush perhaps a little quickly to judgement. There is no Ubermind in large companies. While there is often a cost/benefit anaylysis with anything, don't think that's the sole reason for doing anything. Folks who work at big companies don't have their hearts and minds removed during the pre-employment screening. Take for instance, IBM- While there is indeed a benefit for them from Open Source versus Microsoft, the people working for IBM likely use that as a reason to justify their time doing something they want, not every choice is made by a bean-counter.

          You can *buy* good press, it's probably significantly cheaper than contributing to the community. I don't know what Weitse's time on Postfix has cost IBM, but I'm fairly confident that whatever they've spent hasn't been recouped in PR value. I also highly doubt that Weitse decided to write Postfix as a PR exercise.

          While indeed someone at IBM had to at some point say "Hey, contributing to OSS projects is more cost effective for our people than doing proprietary stuff" that doesn't mean the people contributing are any less a part of the community than those who haven't managed to convince their bosses that OSS software is a good thing.

          There's no doubt that IBM has gained from Apache, Postfix, Java, and their other OSS projects. There's also no doubt that strategically their support for OSS operating systems are good for the bottom line. That doesn't make the people working on OSS projects who work for IBM any less committed to those projects, nor any less a part of the community.

          Paul
    • Not that I find fault with it, but Lethyos has just as much to gain from posting his comment as we readers ourselves. Lethyos will gain a great deal of press and attention, whether or not his comment is highly moderated.

      Yada yada yada. What a ridiculous comment! of COURSE both people gain from the deal! What else COULD there be -- Would you feel better if someone were holding a gun to Mr. Keker's head? Or if he had been drafted with the alternative a prison sentence?

      And who the heck are you to say this lawyer doesn't support "our" causes? What causes would that be? Your cause? My cause? How about Dmitri's cause? Maybe Mr. Keker supports the cause of stopping Big Brother?

      Good gosh, get a new hat -- your head's so swelled up you'll need a custom size.
    • Again, not a bad thing, but we don't want to be misguided into thinking that these lawyers working pro bono support our causes.


      Do you think Keker has a shot at making dough on a countersuit or wrongful imprisonment suit? Also, is there any legal recourse against Adobe [adobe.com] for starting this?

    • What, are you kidding? What is the combined readership of Slashdot and 2600? That is the total number of people in the US that have heard of this case. He is a high profile attorney, but this is not the most high profile case he could be working on. How many people do you know that are not geeks and would have known about Dmitri if you didn't tell them? If the media covered this the way that they should have, Dmitri would be free anyway.
    • I don't think the general public, nor any of the folk that Keker normally serves, has much of a clue at all about this case.

      It does strike me that if everyone were to send him a buck, it would send a fairly clear message to the government that its involvement in this case has been unacceptable. The idea here isn't to make Keker rich (I don't think there'd be enough Slashdot participation to do that, and I suspect he'd end up donating it to charity): it's to show support for the cause.
  • pro bono (Score:2, Redundant)

    by mattvd (44096)
    In case you didn't know...

    From dictionary.com:

    pro bono
    adj.

    Done without compensation for the public good: a lawyer's pro bono work.
  • by brad3378 (155304) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @02:53PM (#2371123)
    &gt John Keker has agreed to represent the Russian programmer pro bono

    AP - Moscow: In a briew interview with the lead singer of U2, Bono denies allegations with regards to involvement in writing software that is used to break copy protection schemes. Although Bono admits to using similar software to pirate his own music, He believes that he should be able to write whatever code he likes. Bono refused futher requests for an interview.
  • Other sources? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by warpeightbot (19472)
    Does somebody have another source for this? Law.com is requiring cookies, and I know this sounds whiny, but I'm just a little too cagey right now to go waltzing onto a commerical site with Junkbuster disabled...

    --
    This domestic terrorism [geekculture.com] has got to stop.

    • Re:Other sources? (Score:2, Informative)

      by hearingaid (216439)

      They're not requiring cookies... unless you turn JS on.

      Disable javascript, access the page. it has a script in it that autoforwards you if you don't set a cookie. works fine without JS :)

  • This is going to be a tough battle but i truly wish them good luck. I hope this trial brings out how unjustifiable the DMCA is and maybe the government get a move to change things a bit.
    Just Hoping...
  • Nonsensical. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:05PM (#2371176) Homepage
    "Generally, they are the kinds of cases the government wouldn't even know about if they hadn't been contacted by the victim,"

    They say this as this is specific to hi-tech crimes. Most property crime, extortion, rapes, battery, assualts, only only known by the government when the victim makes a complaint.

    I am suprised that Dmitry didn't bring a lawsuit against Adobe and the government for retaliation under the ADA. He was aiding others in making a reasonable accomodation by breaking the software to allow it to be converted to speech for the blind.

    • That would assume that Adobe's ebook software would or could not interface with existing screen-reader software, nor it would/could interface with any speech synth software. Mighty big IF there.

      But if you can prove that it doesn't interface, would it be safe to say that the DMCA have a hole or two punched into it the size of a Mack truck?
      • That would assume that Adobe's ebook software would or could not interface with existing screen-reader software, nor it would/could interface with any speech synth software. Mighty big IF there.

        Not quite.

        The whole point of the ebook reeaders (MS's included) are that the text is displayed as a graphic, not text. If it was displayed as text, (which it would need to be, in order to work with a screen reader) then anyone could just use the clipboard to paste the text into Notepad.
        Similarly, if the reader had an API to allow a text-to-speech converter, anyone could use that to extract the body of the text. (And because they'd be using an interface to the existing software, then the software would be legal under the DMCA.)
  • Renowned San Francisco defense attorney John Keker has agreed to represent the Russian programmer pro bono.

    Pro Bono? Aren't we supposed to be against the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [everything2.com]?

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:25PM (#2371243) Homepage Journal
    "I think he is being unjustly accused and that's the kind of case I like to do," Keker said Thursday.

    Bravo.

    As programmers write code to further the cause of opensource software, we need skilled Lawyers to protect our rights. Its war, and the battle will take place in the courts.

    Ashcroft tells it all [democrats.com] - Political Cartoons at Political Strikes [politicalstrikes.com]
    • Ashcroft tells it all [democrats.com]

      The funny thing is...the left has been suppressing the 2nd amendment for a while now. Of course, I dont agree with what ashcroft said. But I thought it was kinda ironic.
      • Thats the major problem with the 2 party system, your vote doesnt count, its either left or the right.

        I cant even find a party that has the same beliefs that I have. Something with a cross between Anarchist, Moderate Republican & Democrat.

        Less government, total freedom (legalize everything for consenting adults..), womens rights, fathers rights, gun control not a gun ban, medical for everyone, something like job core for unemployment, keeping the government out of court cases, privacy issues, tax issues, and much more. Keep morals out of the laws.

        There is too many thoughts on politics, Ill just quit now. Going to watch Enterprise in 30 minutes.
  • by shankark (324928) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:30PM (#2371262)
    The release doesn't mention whether Skylarov will press for damages if acquitted, seeing as he is pitted against the US government. But I think, Keker must file a simultaneous petition to seek damages from Adobe. That should teach them to stop acting like idiots. One moment they are crying foul to mamma, then they see there's nothing in it for them, and then sheepishly wanting to opt out. Show them how the jungle law of the West works, Keker!
    • Not yet.

      Wait until they see what Adobe does at trial. If Adobe plays nice, cut a deal.

      If Adobe flip-flops --- again --- then it's time to get the dogs going.

    • If acquitted, wouldn't it be based on the ridiculous nature of the law? He did break the law, after all (a stupid law, but a law none the less). Would he still be able to sue Adobe? Or would Adobe be well defended by the fact that the law existed at the time? If Adobe drops the charges, could Skylarov sue Adobe in hopes that the case would again bring up the constitutionality of the law? Or would it even come into consideration?
  • Some bio info (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Leven Valera (127099) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:38PM (#2371286) Homepage Journal
    is available here. http://www.kvn.com/attyjwk.html

    This is very good. With the recent events in NYC further stigmatizing the public's view of technology, Keker taking the case is an excellent move to bring Dimitri's case into proper perspective.
  • If this guy is any good, I hope they take it to the supreme court and get the DMCA ruled unconsitutional.

    This would be very satisfying.

    On the hand, if they win, the government might not appeal since they would not want to have the DMCA so ruled.

    In any case, it would be ironic for the whole thing to be thrown out because it was an action in a foreign land by a foreign national.

  • by mickwd (196449) on Sunday September 30, 2001 @03:47PM (#2371312)
    While I'm very happy for Dmitri Sklyarov, it's rather a sad indictment on the judicial system that having the one of the best lawyers seems to matter so much.

    Surely any competent lawyer should be sufficient to point out the facts of the case, and allow a reasonably impartial judge and jury to judge the case accordingly.

    Sadly, this doesn't appear to be the case.

    And no, this isn't intended just to be an attack on the US justice system. I'm sure other countries are as bad (even if some of our laws aren't as bad in this regard - at least, not yet).
    • Whoever said 'you can't judge a book by the cover' is technically true, but should have added 'however, the cover will do a lot to attract people to read the book.' I don't care if you're the most technically competant lawyer in the world, if you can't speak well, and convey your arguments well, you're going to do poorly as a lawyer. That's why some lawyers are worth so much. Sadly, though, a good argument will beat legal truth sometimes....
  • Poor Dmitry,

    A foreigner, trying to escape America for Russia and freedom, fighting against an unjust system, being forced to spend all his money on a legal battle that should never have happened.

    I wonder how his wife and kid are doing through all this.
    • Actually, high-profile!= expensive here. John Keker is doing the case "pro bono", i.e. for free.
      • While John Keker is contributing his services for free, defending a criminal case in no way is "free" even if the lawyer is. Depositions and notrary fees, fees for service of subpoenas, fees for investigators to dig up facts supporting the defendent, etc. all cost money. While the court is supposed to provide for those for indigent defendents, the reality is that if you don't put out the money, you go to jail.

        I have no idea how much money Elcomsoft makes, but I doubt it's a huge amount. This has to be hurting.

        -E

        • You're right. I believe what you say is true.

          But the original poster seemed to be talking about lawyer's fees ("high-profile == expensive"). And I replied that there were no lawyer's fees. And that's true too.
    • As others have mentioned, Pro-bono == for the public good == free.

      If there is a lawyer out there, they certainly know whether the following is true or not. I've heard that the bar association, or some other aspect of a Lawyer's accreditation requires a certain percentage or flat amount of pro-bono work.

      This is not to say that that this is the only reason this lawyer would take the case... issues of celebrity and higher legal fees aside, it seems very plausible to me that there are lawyers out there who enjoy the practice of law as much as some of us enjoy programming computers all day.

      Considering the number of bad lawyers out there, and the general attitude we've all heard -- "I want to be a lawyer to make lots of money" or "I want to be a computer programmer to make lots of money", we all know at least what the latter means...

      A crappy programmer...

      At that thought... if this fellow is a geek-lawyer, he was probably a frightening child. He probably falls asleep with law books and talks about law all day too.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hope, that the outcome will be the obvious:
    Every country has its own laws, and laws of one country are not applicable on what happened inside another country.
    • Brits drive on the left, that's legal in UK, but not in France. Will a Brit be arrested, when he visits France, telling everyone that at home he drives on the left? Obviously not.
    • In Netherland light drugs are legal, but in Italy not. Will someone from Amsterdam be arrested, when going on holidays to Italy? Obviously not.
    • Sklyarov wrote the software while in Russia, he is a Russian citizen, and in Russia it is legal to write this kind of software. Why should USA be allowed to arrest Sklyarov? On what basis?
    Does the US legal system really think its laws are "universally" applicable? Is this the US-arrogance, that makes USA so hatred?

    ms

  • South Park (Score:2, Funny)

    by entrox (266621)
    He'll whip out the Chewbacca Defense and win the case hands down:

    "Dear ladies and gentleman of this supposed jury I have one final thing I want you to consider: this is Chewbacca.."
  • Much of the injustice today is that good lawyers are hard to come by and the few that exist charge outrageous fees. If you have big pockets you can accuse someone or defend yourself and always win. IT doesn't matter if you or they are truly guilty. A lawyer can lie, stretch the truth, or use FUD and make doubts on all the witnesses to practically throw out all evidence. We need to change our system and put some penalties on dishonest layers or make some new rules in court procedures. However the BAR association likes our current system and will not make any recommendations to change it.

    Anyway not to go offtopic, good lawyers are expensive and how is this Russian who makes probably dirt pay afford him? Is the EFF paying for him? The EFF would like to fight Hollywood themselves and have a limited 2 million dollar budget to do it. Anyway I thought it would be cool if he could somehow afford Johnny Cochran. I love the South Park episode where Capitalist records sued the chef for copyright infringement supposedly for a song the chef wrote 20 years ago because it sounds to close to a newer song that is out.

    "Capitalist records CEO: I AM ABOVE THE LAW!"

  • If the bit's not flipped you must acquit!
  • Sign the Petition to Abolish the DMCA. [petitiononline.com]

    Forward it on to people you know who oppose the DMCA.
  • From the Article:
    If convicted, he could face five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

    This is assuming the ATA doesn't pass. Otherwise it should read Lifetime in prison with no chance of parole. [securityfocus.com]

  • Funny how it's square-jawed normals like Bruce Willis who play heroes in our movies. People like this, who will stand up for their rights and fight this fascism, are true heroes. There should be heroic movies about THIS sort of thing, with heart-rending patriotic movies and the libertarian hackers getting the chicks at the end. =)

    -Kasreyn
    • by Kasreyn (233624)
      "heart-rending movies"

      Meant "music", D'OH! Need to lay off the Dew and post more carefully. =P

      -Kasreyn
  • I still believe that this case will ultimately be dismissed in time.

    I suspect this because I believe that the corporations and the government know they got away with one this time and they don't want this law overturned, which it might be by a high court.

    They will wait an appropriate amount of time to let Skyarlov know that "they really meant it," slap his wrist, and send him home.

    Rich...

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday September 30, 2001 @05:53PM (#2371667) Journal

    While it's a very good thing that he'll have excellent representation, I still say that Adobe should be paying full price for his defense.

    That mealy-mouthed "oh, we're sorry we called in the thugs" business doesn't begin to atone for what they've done.

    -jcr
  • John Keker (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lussarn (105276)
    I did a search on google and came up with this page

    Keker [kvn.com]

    It has a piece about the attorney in question. He seems to be one of the best according to this.
  • Lawyers, perhaps more than most of us, thrive or perish according to their ability to access information freely.
    Since information is the capital with which lawyers can conduct their business, any sane lawyer could not help but feel threatened by any trend towards enforcing strict locks on information.

    Imagine legal textbooks and other legal literature being published as e-Books with strict license agreements stipulating that the information contained can not be used in certain legal contexts (eg defending against DMCA prosecutions, or suing certain companies) - this is not dissimilar to Microsoft's EULA banning use of FrontPage with any website containing anti-Microsoft sentiments.

    History is being made by this case.
    It's not 'California v Dmitry Sklyarov', it's DMCA v the First Amendment'!

    Good luck, Dmitry and Mr Keker! The freedom of the masses depends on you.
    • That's nonsense.

      Copyright protects the unique expression of a work--it certainly cannot protect the ideas that a particular work represents.

      For instance, if you read a book on carpentry, you are free to teach someone else carpentry. Or to write your own book on carpetry that covers the exact same material.

      Copyright doesn't cover, nor address, agreements to keep certain information secret. Non-disclosure agreements exist outside the framework of the DMCA. I suppose it's theoretically possible to require that one not disclose the information contained within a work, but, it wouldn't be the DMCA or copyright law which accomplished that legal feat.

      BRx.
      • Copyright protects the unique expression of a work--it certainly cannot protect the ideas that a particular work represents.

        Don't give them ideas, no doubt corporate copyright holders would love to ammend the law to cover this...

Blessed be those who initiate lively discussions with the hopelessly mute, for they shall be known as Dentists.

Working...