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Sklyarov Released On $50,000 Bail 534

Mike Schiraldi was the first to write about Dmitry Sklyarov's release from jail, even before it happened: "According to this live report from the courtroom, Dmitri will probably be out of jail real soon now. Of course, he still won't be allowed to leave Northern California, but it's a start ..." Soon after, inaneboy pointed out this Reuters story on yahoo which says that Sklyarov has been released, on 50,000 dollars bail, raised by his employer, ElcomSoft. phalse phace wrote to say that the EFF has just posted an announcement as well as some background.
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Sklyarov Released On $50,000 Bail

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  • He / his company wrote some software for the express purpose of enabling users to bypass Adobe's encryption scheme. He/They marketed it to Americans and then got nabbed when he came to babble about the joys of spam at a convention. He didn't write that software to 'help blind' people, and he didn't write it to 'alert Adobe to flaws in their software protection'. He wrote it to make money, and to make it at Adobe's expense in direct conflict with existing laws.

    If he was just some schmuck releasing some free code to over-ride protection I would have a little pity, but as it is he gambled for real and lost. Of course his new role as Poster Child Du Jour means that his future is bright regardless of what the courts decide.
  • by RetsamYthgimla ( 458392 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:51PM (#2163904)
    Hey, I was there from about 10:45 AM to noon. Where would I send pictures I took with my digital camera? I don't have any place to host the pictures from.
  • by Gogl ( 125883 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:54PM (#2163921) Journal
    We do the right thing.... sooner or later.... heh.
    Oh well, I guess I'm just an eternal cyncic. Still, I'm very glad this happened, and hopefully he'll be able to get on with his life ASAP. Props to his employer for raising the cash. Somehow I doubt Adobe would ever do the right thing and reimburse them. I must say this whole experience has left me with a very bad taste in my mouth regarding Adobe.... I'll make sure never to purchase any of their products, and reccomend the same to any of my employers/employees/anyone.
    • Adobe doesn't need to reimburse Elcomsoft. After the trial, Elcomsoft will get its $50K back. That's how bails work.
    • by Bozar ( 458678 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:12PM (#2164061) Homepage
      As Winston Churchill said (keep in mind his mother was American), "You can count on the Americans to do the right thing, once they've exhausted every other possible course of action."
    • by beme ( 85862 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:40PM (#2164253)
      I'm not sure how releasing him on bail qualifies as doing the right thing.
      IMHO, doing the right thing would be dropping the charges and letting him go home.
  • man (Score:5, Funny)

    by BilldaCat ( 19181 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:55PM (#2163927) Homepage
    He's gonna have a lot of e-mail to catch up on. Wasn't he in jail for the whole SirCam bit?
  • bail? (Score:2, Funny)

    by AKA da JET ( 280057 )
    I think the feds should pay HIM $50,000 personally and get him on a private luxery jet home and get down on their knees and beg for forgivness :)
  • by cmdrsed ( 472978 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:57PM (#2163950)
    What is Think Geek going to do with all of those Free Dimitri [] shirts they just got in? Nobody is going to want them now....
  • Adobe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:57PM (#2163952)
    If, as they claim, Adobe doesn't want him prosecuted any more, then why don't THEY pay the $50000 bail?
    • Re:Adobe (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zhensel ( 228891 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:24PM (#2164158) Homepage Journal
      Or, more appropriately, why doesn't Sklyarov turn around and sue them for 50k plus a bit more for causing his detainment with a false afidavit. I think the fact that they refused to prosecute in civil court is exceptional evidence that they perjured themselves.
      • Re:Adobe (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hearingaid ( 216439 ) <> on Monday August 06, 2001 @10:08PM (#2165762) Homepage


        good lord. You can't commit perjury unless you're IN COURT.

        the best Sklyarov could get against them is maybe some petty-ante little charge like laying a false complaint.

        anyway, if he shows to the trial, even if he's convicted, Elcomsoft gets its money back. It's being held by the bail bondsman now. Nobody can touch it unless he jumps.

        he may have a case against the California D.A. for malicious prosecution though. And get this through your legally-untrained skull: it's the federal government who's holding him. Adobe set the ball in motion, but they're not the ones that're doing anything now.

        the next time we should discuss Adobe is when their employees are called to the stand. That's when we find out where they really stand on the issues. Right now they can't do anything - good or bad.

        • Wrong. Any time you swear to an afidavit you are doing so on the penalty of perjury.
        • the next time we should discuss Adobe is when their employees are called to the stand. That's when we find out where they really stand on the issues. Right now they can't do anything - good or bad.


          Yes, Adobe's "retraction" and "regret" have proven to be the perfect copout for Adobe. Get the man maliciously arrested for "violating" a flagrantly unconstitutional American law for actions in Russia which were legal, even encouraged, under Russian law, then step back and say "oops, our bad, sorry, please keep buying our ebook products but now its the government's fault, yell at them instead!"

          Adobe gets the chilling effect on research into their inadequate, even fraudulant, copy protection schemes and, if we listen to you, never have to suffer a single consiquence for their actions, the direct result of which have been the unjust imprisonment of a software engineer for giving a speech at a technical conference and quite possibly the destruction of the next several years of his life.

          Until Adobe does something significant and concrete to make amends for their actions I will continue to hold them in the highest contempt, I will continue to boycott their products, I will continue to encourage my employer and my friends to do the same, and I will continue to speak out about it on public fora such as this one.

          Adobe pulled the trigger. The very least they can do is pay reparations for the damage they have wrought.
          • Until Adobe does something significant and concrete to make amends for their actions I will continue to hold them in the highest contempt, I will continue to boycott their products, I will continue to encourage my employer and my friends to do the same, and I will continue to speak out about it on public fora such as this one.

            that's your right, and you're making a good point.

            nevertheless, the point is that the next opportunity Adobe has to make a significant contribution to the case is when their employees go to the stand. You're right that their retraction doesn't mean anything: complaining to the FBI was enough to get the ball rolling, and withdrawing the complaint has had no effect thus far. And I think you're certainly justified in boycotting Adobe for their significant actions so far: they have to take responsibility for what they've done.

            still, it's in the hands of the DOJ right now. if you really want to see Sklyarov go free, don't lobby Adobe... now. Wait until trial, or a grand jury hearing. Now is the time to hammer the DOJ.

        • he may have a case against the California D.A. for malicious prosecution though. And get this through your legally-untrained skull:

          For starters, as this is a Federal prosecution, it's the US Attorney, not a D.A. In either case, they're shielded by prosecutorial immunity.

  • Congrats to reuters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bricriu ( 184334 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:58PM (#2163955) Homepage
    ... for pointing something that should get hyped in every dealing that anyone sympathetic to Sklyarov's plight has with anyone else: that this was legal under Russian law.

    Seriously, the fact that he's a Russian (read "commie") coder (read "hacker") can, and may, get played against him in the press to no end, so it's nice just to see those little words, "legal in Russia," that should humble the cretins who pushed this misguided law.

    "Ah, for the freedoms of Mother Russia..." *sigh*
  • by 3-State Bit ( 225583 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @03:59PM (#2163968)
    he still won't be allowed to leave Northern California...
    Which earnestly solicits the question "may he code []???"
  • by LiamQ ( 110676 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:00PM (#2163980)

    Here are a couple new SF Chronicle articles of interest:

    • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:09PM (#2164040) Homepage
      Interesting, the first article states that, now that he has been released on bail, the U.S. attorney has 10 to 20 days to indict him. Does this mean that if they don't do anything after 20 days he walks? If so, would this be a convenient face-saving measure for the government?

    • by Chakat ( 320875 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:10PM (#2164053) Homepage
      I love this quote from the first article you linked to:
      Book publishers say they need a tough law like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or they'll never be able to make money selling electronic books. If programmers are allowed to crack eBook encryption, the next Napster-style trading system will be exchanging copies of "Moby Dick" instead of songs by Moby, they warn.
      Uhh...someone better tell the AAP that "Moby Dick" is public domain, something that is legal to copy under the law
      • by sandgroper ( 145126 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @08:11PM (#2165354)
        Book publishers say they need a tough law like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or
        they'll never be able to make money selling electronic books.

        Gee. I wonder if I can get the U.S. Congress to pass a law that says I have to be able to make a profit, no matter what stupid business I decide to get into.
  • Party (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cnkeller ( 181482 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <relleknc>> on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:02PM (#2163994) Homepage
    Probably only applicable to those of us in Silicon Valley, but is anyone else interested in taking him out for a beer and some decent food? Show him the parts of the US that don't suck....
    • Re:Party (Score:4, Insightful)

      by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc @ f r i i . c om> on Monday August 06, 2001 @09:22PM (#2165558) Homepage Journal
      It's occured to me that since Dimitry can't go home to his wife & kids, would it be possible to bring his wife & kids here? It would probably take some fundraising to pay for plane tickets, living arrangements, etc.
  • Amazing victory (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 )
    This is an amazing victory for Sklyarov. $50,000 bail is a lot of money, I agree ... but this is peanuts for an alleged criminal who poses a substantial flight risk (he does, after all, live in Russia). I'm personally hoping that this says good things for the judge's attitudes towards Sklyarov and his alleged "crime."

    (Usual disclaimers: IANAL etc.)

  • Good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:05PM (#2164009)
    A bit off-topic, but an article in my local paper this morning tells of the sentencing of an attempted rapist who beat the living crap out of his would-be victim, knocking out several of her teeth and putting her in the hospital for a week. He got two-and-a-half years. He'll probably serve only half of that. But Dimitry could get five years for his e-book program.

    The message our lawmakers are sending to hackers is clear; leave the copy protection alone and instead just beat the f*cking shit out of the copyright holder.

    I hope Dimitry flees. There won't be any justice for him here.

    • Re:Good. (Score:2, Funny)

      by jmv ( 93421 )
      The message our lawmakers are sending to hackers is clear; leave the copy protection alone and instead just beat the f*cking shit out of the copyright holder.

      Hey, that calls for an "Open Beating" project!
  • by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:06PM (#2164021) Journal that it doesn't clarify the real difference between the legality in Russia and the illegality in the States -- i.e. that the reason you're allowed to do this in Russia is to make backups for personal use.

    Overall, I think it's a reasonable story, and not slanted. But the average reader (side-note: how much do we think this will be picked up by the mass-circulation papers?) will end up thinking that this is a symptom of the decline of the Russian ex-empire in that it's legal to pirate CDs there. The reality, of course, is the reverse: it's legal to make a fair-use backup for your own purposes, as opposed to out-and-out piracy, and that is what Sklyarov's software addresses.
  • LA Times (Score:2, Informative)

    Front Page article in the LA Times [] about E-Books and Dmitry. Had a great picture of one of the protests on an inside continuation page (pic not available on line, bummer!).

    LA Times article on the bail. []
  • Is this a precursor to the widely expected split of California into North and South? Where is the boundary between these (soon to be two) states that Dimitry cannot cross?

    Props to him on his bold defense of international freedom of speech.

  • If he was really a valuable employee, his employer would have put out an insurance policy on him... especially for stuff like this. Heck, my autoclub provides me a $5000 bond for my $12/yr membership fee.
  • Check Sklyarov's progress here []

  • by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:28PM (#2164180)
    He'll get his ass back to Russia. Once he figures out the legal costs and his potential for incarceration I think he'll realise that it's in his best interest to flee prosecution. Hell! it's in ElcomSoft's best interests if he flees. $50,000 might sound like a lot, but once you start to think in terms of billable hours its really isn't that much. The sooner he's back at work the better it will be for them. It may be in the DOJ's best interest too. If you consider that this isn't exactly a popular case for them. Come to think of it... isn't $50,000 bail for someone that is as much of a flight risk as Sklyarov a bit low? Granted, he won't be able to return to the US again....but would he really want to? If it were you would you want to?
  • What gets me is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:28PM (#2164181) Journal
    What gets me is how it seems like DS is arrested for violation of American law for things here did in Russia, really. And the rest was merely a snow job to make it look legal. I guess that since he is russian, free speech rights do not apply?. Because he was speaking. Maybe he even said "Go to my webiste and buy stuff".

    The last time I checked, even though the west won ther cold war US law was NOT the Law of the Land in Russia.

    There is the legal concept of "Fighting Words". This covers things like inciting to riot, or other illegal acts. The Supreme Court has issued many rulings on this. These are the rulings that allow Nazis to stroll through a jewish neighborhood, while under police protection. This area of law is part of free speech rights, and basically knocks down the idea that you can be arrested for incitement to an illegal act. IANAL. A search for the phrase will turn up many referances.

    People can buy instruments of violence in the US. But tread on someone's imagined profits, and watch out. Even if you are just speaking, or selling.

    There could be a tremendous constitutional legal issue tied up with this. I hope the DCMA gets nailed.

    • A man has has to know his limitations. He *JUST* had to challenge the media and then come to the US and expecting not to get caught.

      Although, his actions are not a crime in his home land, he did commit a crime against a company protected by US law (no matter how ridiculous the law may be). The instant he set foot on US soil, he could be arrested, charged and prosecuted accordingly.

      People are wondering why he is still being prosecuted despite having the charges dropped. Bottom line is that although the "victim" dropped charges, the federal gov't is aware a crime has been commited. Hence, they have to prosecute. Clearly, somebody wants his ass in sling and are determined to make an example out of him.

      Somebody pointed out that they hope he flees because he won't get a fair trial here. Because they are trying so hard to force the DCMA on us, that statement is probably true. A conviction will set precedent. If he does manage to flee, he only has to wait for the statute of limitations to expire before he can attend his next conference in the US.

      I'd like to see this tried in world court where they'll laugh at the DMCA and open the path for him collecting civil damages for violation of his rights.

      BTW, what *IS* the Statute of Limitations on the DCMA? Knowing the forces behind it, it's probably knows no time limitation (like murder). Lord knows, they will make a witchhunt out of this and burn the little bugger at the stake just to get their point across.

      Let's wish this guy luck, hope he runs fast, hides well, and pray the somebody in the High Court comes to their senses.

    • Here's a point I haven't seen examined yet. IANAL, but I don't see how Dmitry can be charged with violating DMCA anti-circumvention (DMCA-AC hereinafter). Here's why:

      Premise: As I understand DMCA-AC, what's forbidden is 'creation and trafficking' in anticircumvention tools, with geographic scope limited to the US.

      Analysis: While Dmitry created (or created a lot of) Advanced eBook Processor (AEBPR), he created it in Russia, not the US; and he has not personally 'trafficked' in it within the US - there is no DMCA cause of action against Dmitry. It was Elcomsoft that sold AEBR in the US, which -is- actionable under DMCA-AC. Despite employment by Elcomsoft, Dmitry the person is distinct from Elcomsoft the corporation and not criminally liable for the deeds of Elcomsoft.

      Conclusion: For the prosecution to be successful, the US Attorney must show either:

      a) that Dmitry individually has 'trafficked' in AEBPR, separately from Elcomsoft's sales of AEBR in the US, or
      b) that Dmitry as an employee of Elcomsoft has criminal liability for Elcomsoft's actions in 'trafficking' in AEBR.

      I don't see how either a) or b) can be proven, as there are no signs that Dmitry has personally distributed AEBR in the US, and no signs that Dmitry is an owner or officer of Elcomsoft -- just an ordinary employee. (If I were Dmitry's boss, or an Elcomsoft owner, I wouldn't be hanging around the US, though.)

      If the above is factually correct, then the prosecution's only hope is to find relevant US law, precedent, or theories under which an ordinary employee of a corporation can be held to have criminal liability for the actions of the corporation. More specifically, the precedent or theory would have to pertain to the situation in which both the corporation and the employee are foreign nationals.

      If there is no such law, precedent, or theory, the case ultimately fails, and therefore the US Attorney would likely decline to indict.

      If the DOJ is looking for a way to make this case go away, either to avoid embarrassment or to avoid taking to trial a case with the potential to nullify DMCA-AC, this would do it for them.

      In any event, there may not be any DMCA-AC test case here -- the charge may be flawed, and if so it should not have been brought in the first place, and will be dismissed.

      Actual lawyers please comment?
      • If the above is factually correct, then the prosecution's only hope is to find relevant US law, precedent, or theories under which an ordinary employee of a corporation can be held to have criminal liability for the actions of the corporation.

        Which is something which US corporate interests would not want to happen...
  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:29PM (#2164185)
    Thus allowing him to stay in the country, work to make enough money to eat and fuel the U.S legal system. (not necessarily in that order)
  • Pictures from Rally (Score:5, Informative)

    by byoungvt ( 225652 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:37PM (#2164241) Homepage
    Pictures now up here []
  • by Daffy Duck ( 17350 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:42PM (#2164270) Homepage
    The room was indeed packed - standing room only. (Only they don't let people in the gallery stand except for the security guards.)

    Sklyarov was handcuffed and wearing a fetching orange T-shirt from the Santa Clara County Main Jail collection.

    The proceeding itself was mostly dull and could just as easily have been done over the phone. No controversy or disagreement. The judge seemed to just want to get the whole thing over with as routinely as possible. The only additional information he asked for was some assurance that Dmitry's immigration status would not interfere with the trial proceedings. And while the papers are reporting that the U.S. attorney is still holding Sklyarov's passport, he did make clear that it would be handed over to the court at their discretion.

    The next court appearance is scheduled for August 23, so Dmitry must be indicted within that time for the case to go forward.

    After the hearing was over, nine tenths of the people left the room, and the whole proceeding only took about twenty minutes.

  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @04:51PM (#2164321)
    The REAL people responsible for this whole situation are the INDIVIDUALS WHO FILED THE COMPLAINT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    These people made a PERSONAL decision to prosecute Sklyarov, and it was their INDIVIDUAL decision to cry foul under the DMCA.

    We have their names from the criminal complaint document, why hasn't anyone in the media contacted them?

    The individuals responsible:

    Kevin Nathanson - eBooks Group Product manager, complainant to the FBI.
    Daryl Spano - Adobe "Anti-piracy" investigator, also complainant to the FBI.
    Tom Diaz - Senior Engineering Manager for eBook
    Daniel J O'Connell - FBI agent who filed the complaint.

    The media needs to put the spotlight on these I N D I V I D U A L S who are personally responsible for Sklyarov's situation.
  • My View of the Day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday August 06, 2001 @11:19PM (#2166021) Homepage Journal

    I almost didn't go to this hearing. I thought to myself, "What's the point? The deck is stacked against me, the media will spin its own story regardless of the facts or what the EFF has to say, and we'll all be ignored, anyway." At the last minute, I decided that I had to go. I didn't want to, I had to. Though mine may be the proverbial voice in the wilderness, as an ethical software engineer of almost 25 years, I couldn't let this transgression against everything I hold dear go unanswered.

    I dressed up in uncharacteristically formal attire, in the event I was asked for an on-camera interview, and drove to downtown San Jose, arriving at about 09:45, and walked to the "Snake" at the end of Caesar de Chavez Park. There were about two dozen people there, most of them carrying hand-made pickets, including a former colleague, who coincidentally also happens to be a Russian named Dmitriy. Also milling through the group were a few media representatives (I saw units from KGO, KPIX, and TechTV).

    I didn't see any obvious representatives from the EFF there (though I was asked several times if I myself was a representative). Things seemed a shade disorganized to me. The march toward the Federal building one block away was supposed to start at 10:00. By 10:10, no one was moving, so I walked down myself to make sure I got a seat in the courtroom for the bail hearing which was to take place at 11:00.

    I arrived at the Federal courthouse, and made my way through the security gauntlet. (You remember that scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves shows up in the lobby with all those neatly-dressed security guards? It was a lot like that. Seven Marshalls stood nearby as they X-rayed my mini-MagLite three times.) Finally convinced I was harmless, I went up to the fourth floor to Judge Infante's courtroom and waited to enter.

    There, I met some more reporters from TechTV and the LA Times. Again, I was asked if I was from the EFF.
    "No, I'm a software engineer," I said.
    "Oh, an actual real person!", said one of the reporters. I got asked why I was there, and tried to explain my concerns. I don't know how well I succeeded.

    While waiting, the rest of the protest group arrived at the front of the Federal building. We could see them from the windows of the waiting area. Not too long after, the corridor began to fill up with spectators awaiting admittance to the courtroom.

    I managed to buttonhole the LA Times reporter, and tried again to explain the issues as I saw them. I related this case to the DVD CCA debacle, which the EFF is still fighting on both coasts. I felt I was actually beginning to help him understand, when our conversation was cut short when the courtroom doors opened and we were allowed in.

    After inquiring with the Marshall what the rules were (laptops okay, cellphones bad), I pulled out my laptop and started making a few notes. While sitting there, I picked up a fragment of a conversation between the Marshall and a spectator who walked in.
    "Hey, aren't you on the wrong floor?" asked the Marshall.
    "Yeah, but this looked really interesting," said the gentleman.
    I didn't get his name, but it turned out that he's a bankruptcy lawyer who was also a computer programmer back in 1963. He saw the hearing listed on the court calendar, and stopped by to watch. We chatted a bit about recording devices and court stenography methods.

    At 10:55, Dmitry entered the courtroom with another man, Juan Valencia Rowa (sp?), who was under indictment for a drug and parole violation. Both were handcuffed, dressed in freeway-cone-orange scrubs. By the time court was in session at 11:00 sharp, the spectators' gallery was filled.

    Judge Infante banged court into session. It was immediately apparent that this man worked strictly by the book. He was formal and precise, almost to the point of stuffiness. The first case called was Dmitry's. Counsels for the defense and prosecution introduced themselves, and Judge Infante read the summary of the government's criminal charges aloud to Dmitry. Standing next to Dmitry was a Russian translator (identity unknown).

    Infante then asked for motions from counsels concerning bail. The government prosecutor stated that they considered Sklyarov a flight risk, since he is a Russian national and has nothing tying him to this area. Nevertheless, a deal had apparently been worked out whereby the government was willing to allow him go free, provided the following conditions were met:

    • That Dmitry sign a promise to appear,
    • That a bail be paid of $50,000,
    • That a custodian be assigned to him to vouch for his return,
    • That he report to a court-appointed clerk no less than once a week,
    • That his ability to travel be restricted to Northern California.

    Defense counsel, in support of this, presented character references from Dmitry's professors in Russia, as well as a letter from the Russian Consul. The Judge accepted this arrangement on its face, and ordered exactly those conditions be imposed on Dmitry for his release.

    The Judge expressed a concern that the US Department of Immigration might present complications. Dmitry is here on a travel visa. When that visa expires, Dmitry could theoretically be arrested again for violating immigration laws. Judge Infante inquired if Immigration was okay with Dmitry's extended stay. Defense counsel replied that arrangements were not yet finalized, but were underway.

    Defense counsel then announced that a custodian for Dmitry was available immediately. Sergei Osokine of Cupertino then stepped forward and introduced himself to the court. Judge Infante informed Osokine that he was vouching for Sklyarov's promise to appear, that he was to inform the court immediately if he became aware of Sklyarov's flight or intent to fly, and could himself become liable for the bail sum should Sklyarov disappear. Osokine indicated he understood and agreed to all this.

    Defense counsel then announced that the bail sum was also available immediately, in cash, paid by his employer. Dmitry was then uncuffed, and brought to the center of the courtroom to sign the papers indicating the conditions of his release. The date was also set for the preliminary hearing: 09:00, 23 August 2001. Having forgotten to do so earlier, the Judge then informed Dmitry of the maximum penalty for his alleged crime: $500,000.00 and five years in prison. Once everything was signed, Judge Infante ordered Dmitry's release upon payment of bail to the court clerk, and moved on to the next case. The spectators' gallery emptied almost immediately. The entire process took about twenty minutes.

    Outside, an actual representative of the EFF :-) stood before a camera claiming victory in this round of the dispute. Defense counsel, in a different interview, also said he was pleased with Dmitry's release, but that there was still a long way to go before a final resolution.

    I stood around with Dan Kaminsky and helped answer questions from a reporter from Reuters wire service. Dan and I can get a bit animated about these issues, and I fear we ranted a bit. Hopefully the reporter wasn't put off by it.

    What I did find off-putting were the chants that suddenly broke out from the picketers (who had moved to the other side of the courthouse). "What do we want? Free Dmitry! When do we want it? Now! Hey-hey, ho-ho, DMCA's got to go," etc. I know I have absolutely no practical experience in social agitation for political change, so please accept it as my woefully uneducated personal opinion that I see this sort of thing as infantile. It is not effective or witty, it is lame. It makes you look like brainless, uncreative drones on television, and people will tune you right out. Please think of something different.

    After the Reuters reporter left, we answered a few more questions from the reporter from WiReD News, then I left for an appointment at 13:00. On the way to my car, I bumped into Brad Templeton, president of the EFF, who hinted that you may expect to see some new fundraising events in the not-too-distant future.

    Why do I give a damn about this? When I first touched a computer at age 12, I saw it as the ultimate tool of creative expression. Theoretically, there was nothing you couldn't do with these machines, no idea that could not be expressed in a myriad of ways. In that instant, I immediately knew that this was what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Not everyone gets the chance to spend their life doing what they love, and I value very highly my good fortune of my vocation also being my dearest hobby.

    One of the reasons I've gotten nice jobs in the Valley is because I'm fairly good at what I do. Apart from my enthusiasm, one of the primary ways I got so good was by taking apart things other people did, seeing how they worked, and using those discoveries to build new ideas. I even described my discoveries to others, in the hopes they would get new ideas, too.

    In other words, I built much of my professional career doing exactly what Dmitry Sklyarov did.

    When the Judge read the charges to Dmitry -- "trafficking in a device to circumvent a technological measure that protects a copyright" -- I nearly became nauseous. There is not so much separating me from Dmitry. I have often thought about -- and perhas will one day -- writing a display hack that takes whatever DVD is in your drive, wraps the movie imagery on to an OpenGL sphere, and bounces it around the screen ("Boing 2001", if you will). To do that, I would have to use the DeCSS code fragment published by Jon Johansen. And doing so would make me a "criminal," a threat to the State and public safety, just like Dmitry.

    In a brief flash, I saw myself up there, humiliated, in a hostile place where no one knows me, no one understands what I do -- nor do they care -- answering terrifyingly punitive criminal charges for doing nothing more than what I have loved doing all my life.

    I am Dmitry Sklyarov. What the hell am I supposed to do now?


    • by TrinSF ( 183901 )
      I know I have absolutely no practical experience in social agitation for political change, so please accept it as my woefully uneducated personal opinion that I see this sort of thing [chanting slogans] as infantile.

      That's your opinion; it's not matched by the experience of countless protest organizations and movements dating back centuries. As you've said, you don't have a similar well of experience from which to draw.

      It is not effective or witty, it is lame. It makes you look like brainless, uncreative drones on television, and people will tune you right out.

      While it may be annoying to you, it *is* effective.

      The reason chanting has been used at protest events for centuries is because it works. Chanting, in combination with other factors (bright/colorful/memorable costumes, clear signs, catchy slogans) helps fulfill several goals that most protest groups have. Among them, chanting:

      1. Creates substantive sight-and-sound bites for the media.

      2. Conveys a basic message to observers.

      3. Unites the protesters, giving a greater appearance of unity.

      4. Helps keep participant energy up over long protest periods.

      5. Can be used to synchronize group action and convey messages in large crowds. ("When we start chanting 'foo', that's the signal to move towards the gates of the plant.")

      6. Provides a simple "hook" for bystanders to participate.

      I understand that you may consider chants about the DMCA childish, but simple slogans can create interest in a topic. If I know nothing about the DMCA and hear people chanting "Down with the DMCA" (and see signs waving!) I may be spurred to find out more about the subject myself. While you may be adept at explaining the topic in 20 minutes, or even 5, you need to capture interest in 20 seconds -- the time my car is stopped at that red light on the corner -- and that requires slogans, signs, and *chants*.

      Please think of something different.

      I'll politely refrain from asking how many protests you've participated in, or organized, or how you've kept your mental and physical energy up after 4 hours of marching, or 20 days at the same street corner; after all, you've already said you have no experience with organized protest actions. While I understand that you -- someone educated about the topic -- may find simple chanting "infantile" -- I would suggest that you try engaging in the activity before demanding of others that they replace a time-tested and perennially effective element of protesting.


    • answering terrifyingly punitive criminal charges for doing nothing more than what I have loved doing all my life.

      I guess that is what has made me so angry about this whole nightmare. One of my earliest programs was a wrapper that trapped floppy I/O to defeat the copy protection on a game I owned (those 5-1/4" drives sure were slow). I had no intention of making copies of the game available to others, I simply wanted to see if I could figure out how to do it and learn something about interrupts and TSRs. What I did was not illegal at the time and the game's license agreement did not specifically prohibit what I did. It is not clear from reading the DMCA that it would be illegal now, but if I were to do something like that again I certainly wouldn't want to share it with anyone. Yep, sad, scary, and downright depressing. The next victim of the DMCA could just as easily be a naive 14 year old who's done nothing more than attempt to understand how his computer works.

      Everyone should consider donating their tax refund to either the soon-to-be established defense fund or the EFF. CowboyNeal can go hungry for all I care.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.