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ElcomSoft Files For Dismissal Of E-Book Case 286

EconomyGuy writes: "ElcomSoft, the Russian software company accused of such evils as producing software to enable the blind to read legally obtained e-books, has filed for a dismissal of the charge that they violated the DMCA. Their main arguments seem to be what we anyone would expect: the DMCA is too vague, copyright holders have too much power, infringement of 1st amendment rights. CNN has all the details, as well as news.com. Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument." The efforts to get the case dismissed will no doubt continue.
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ElcomSoft Files For Dismissal Of E-Book Case

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  • Background Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiltowait ( 306189 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:54PM (#2921016) Homepage Journal
    If you haven't heard much about this case, there's several sites about it here [dmoz.org].
  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seizer ( 16950 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:57PM (#2921037) Homepage
    Getting it dismissed would be a shot in the arm for the anti-DMCA lobby, so my best wishes go with Elcomsoft.

    Incidentally, though, this "blind people used e-book reader" argument seems a bit thin on the ground, for two reasons:

    1) I've never seen any report of any case where a blind person actually used the software, and

    2) I seem to recall they only sold about 50 copies before it got yanked.

    Anybody got any information on whether it was used by blind people? (Not that that should be necessary for the sofware's legality, but it might help people understand the case better...)
    • Re:Good! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ooblek ( 544753 )
      CAN YOU SPEAK LOUDER? I'm blind and my web-page reader is being drowned out by my elcomsoft e-book reader. That thing sure is a bag of wind!
    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by James1006 ( 544398 )
      I think that "blind people being about to read eBooks" is just a plea to sympathy.

      I mean, it makes the copyright holders out to be really bad people if they aren't letting blind people have access to books. Villianizes them. I guess it is a fallacy of argument (They should get a better example... perhaps several more actually that they can play from multiple angles).

      It is not just that blind person argument, I think they need to emphasize the fundamental impact on freedom that is occuring because of the DMCA.

      They also need to bring it to the American people, because while right now it is a bunch of online geeks fighting it (Read: A small minority). That is if the American public even knows/cares about the DMCA and this case altogether.

      It shouldn't wait until it gets worse before popular support makes it get better.

      • Re:Good! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
        Well, it isn't just about sympathy, it's about establising legal uses for the software. While most definitely in violation of the DMCA, the prosecution is going to have to rely on portraying the software as a hacker's tool -- aka something with only illegal intent. This is much like convicting someone for owning a "breaking and entering" tool like a crowbar despite it's many useful legal uses, and the "blind person" thing is partly to point that out.

        Though it is about sympathy too. "You don't hate blind people... Do you?"
      • by SteveM ( 11242 )

        I think that "blind people being about to read eBooks" is just a plea to sympathy.

        It is also an attempt to level the PR playing field.

        The supporters of the DMCA such as the RIAA and the MPAA have done an excellent job portraying the users of such things as MP3s and DeCSS as hackers, criminals and pirates. They have gone as far as to call then terrorists.

        The non-geek population is bombarded with the message "hacker = evil" followed up with "DMCA protects from hackers".

        The DeCSS case has been hurt big time by this.

        ElcomSoft is trying to play the RIAA/MPAA game to their advantage. This isn't a hacker tool, no, no, no. It is an empowerment tool for the blind!

        Maybe it will work. Maybe it will just cancel out the hacker = evil propaganda and we'll have a trial on the merits of the case. Maybe it will get drowned out by the PR machines of the DMCA supporters.

        Maybe it is even true.

        In any case, you can't fault them for trying. I hope it works.

        Steve M

    • Re:Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BCoates ( 512464 )
      Incidentally, though, this "blind people used e-book reader" argument seems a bit thin on the ground, for two reasons:

      1) I've never seen any report of any case where a blind person actually used the software, and

      2) I seem to recall they only sold about 50 copies before it got yanked.


      I think the idea is that it's a "substantial non-infringing use" which is, iirc, what got the VHS people off, since it would be legal to "time-shift" by recording a TV show and watching it later, the VCR wasn't only useful for illegal copying. (even though that's a major use of the record feature)

      --
      Benjamin Coates
      • Re:Good! (Score:2, Informative)

        ...it's a "substantial non-infringing use" which is, iirc, what got the VHS people off,...

        That's pretty much correct, except it was the Beta people (Sony), not VHS (JVC).

    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @05:14PM (#2921574) Homepage
      Incidentally, though, this "blind people used e-book reader" argument seems a bit thin on the ground,

      Well, the two reasons you listed are probably linked. After all, if only a handful of people have use the software, it's not terribly surprising that you haven't heard many stories about how useful it is. The "satisfied customers" test is only useful if there has been a genuine chance for their to be some customers to be satisfied.

      More importantly, I think that the idea of making E-books useful to blind readers remains a good example, whether or not any specific blind person has used it for that yet. It's an example of a legitimate, non-copyright-infringing use for the product that has been forclosed by the combination of Adobe's restrictive policies and the DMCA. Adobe didn't stop to think about the possibility that blind people wouldn't be able to use their product, and the law says that nobody else can correct their mistake with an add-on. That's idiotic, and it's good to point out how stupid it is.

  • Good strategy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rhizome ( 115711 )
    They seem to be preserving their most pertinent fallback (jurisdiction) in order to attack the DMCA on its own terms. Now, of course I don't know that it's intended as an "attack", but to treat the DMCA in the abstract is a lot more beneficial to the community than their just trying to get themselves out of hot water. Kudos!
  • Russian Law (Score:4, Informative)

    by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:58PM (#2921044) Journal
    Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument."

    I don't see that as interesting because it couldn't possibly be construed as a legal argument, or logical in the slightest for that matter. If you are in the US, you obey US laws. If you sell a product in the US, your product conforms to US laws. Saying "we didn't violate Russian law" would be like opening a windows shopping brothel in Time Square and saying "we didn't violate the law in Amsterdam!" Ridiculous!

    Scott

    • Re:Russian Law (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fjord ( 99230 )
      Wouldn't it be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam, possibly serving clients from the U.S. on vacation there (and possibly not), and then saying "We didn't violate any Amsterdam laws".

      Of course, the U.S. can enact such a law that says that people who serve prostitutes to Americans abroad are in violation of American law, and if they ever come to the U.S. they can be arrested. Helms-Burton is an example of such a law, only is penalizes companies that deal in nationalized Cuban property. The U.S. can make any law it wants. They could even say it's illegal to be Afghani. It's their country. If you violate the laws and then go to their soil, then they can put you in jail, because they have the authority on their land.
      • Re:Russian Law (Score:3, Insightful)

        They could even say it's illegal to be Afghani

        Well they could, but only after getting the Constitution completely out of the picture. Currently, such a law is illegal

      • Re:Russian Law (Score:2, Insightful)

        by eightball ( 88525 )
        No, it would be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam, taking orders from the US and shipping prostitutes to the US.
        • bingo. this post hits the nail on the head. mod this up. it's all about the fact that software considered illegal by the government is being shipped into the US.

          jon
      • > Wouldn't it be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam, possibly serving clients from the U.S. on vacation there (and possibly not), and then saying "We didn't violate any Amsterdam laws".

        No, it wouldn't. Elcomsoft set up a server on U.S. soil (okay, they contracted with a U.S. hosting company, but you get the idea) and then sold their product (with was illegal by U.S. standards) to U.S. citizens (and others). So the original analogy is more accurate.

        Virg
      • Re:Russian Law (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jgerman ( 106518 )

        Wouldn't it be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam, possibly serving clients from the U.S. on vacation there (and possibly not), and then saying "We didn't violate any Amsterdam laws".


        No it wouldn't, it would be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam and selling prostitutes to U.S. citizens on vacation to sneak into the U.S.. You left out a key point in the analogy.

        • No it wouldn't, it would be more like opening a brothel in Amsterdam and selling prostitutes to U.S. citizens on vacation to sneak into the U.S.. You left out a key point in the analogy.

          Except that Elcomsoft has office in the US, and sold the product within the US. The transaction was made on US soil, thus is subject to US laws.

          Scott

          • Which is what I've been saying all along. I'm sick of people who seem to think that the government was wrong in arresting Dmitri. The law was wrong, but it IS on the books. There was nothing wrong with the arrest.
      • They were selling software in US through their american retailer (regnow.com) and were, thus, automatically paying state taxes on those sales for purchases from customers located in Washington state (where Regnow is located). That's pretty much the definition of "doing business in US".

        So the argument that US law doesn't apply here is moot and will be thrown out in the court fairly quickly
    • Re:Russian Law (Score:2, Informative)

      Except for one thing:

      The product (to the best of my knowledge) was only sold in Russia.

      This is equivalant to someone from the country Mary Jane where the wacky tobaccy is legal. When they enter the US - not carrying the product, mind you - to talk about the benefits of marijuana (or however you spell it) at a medical convention, the DEA shows up at the convention and takes them to jail.

      Same story, only the difference is that it was about ebooks, not drugs.

      And anybody's who's going to split hairs, it's a damn anology, so shut the fuck up unless you have a good counter argument.
      • The description of how the product worked however, was not the seminaar was given on American soil. And it is illegal in this country to describe to others how to violate the protection put on a work by the copyright holder. Regardless of whether the fact that it should be illegal to do so it is.


        You can't pre-defend your analogy by saying it's only an analogy, your entire point rests on that analogy as an appeal to emotion to win your argument, it's bullshit. Your putting the best possible face on the illegal act. You could just as easily change it to be a talk about how to go about producing kiddy porn on U.S. soil by someone from where kiddy pron is legal.

      • If you actually look at the court papers, Elcomsoft was selling their software from servers located in the US, after you purchased it, you then downloaded it off of another server also located in the US; I believe from somewhere in Seatle, and possibly Maryland (just a bit too lazy to look it up just now, but feel free to verify). The government bought & downloaded software all from machines physically located in the US before they brought charges.

        So it is very much a US type of thing, so I guess you could make an analogy of Amsterdam company imports pot into the US, and procedes to sell it out of their stores located in the US.
    • Re:Russian Law (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 )
      Jurisdiction in this case is tricky. Elcomsoft never "sold" the product in the US. They did have a US company called Regnow sell keys, which the buyer would then use to unlock the software.

      To determine jurisdiction, the courts will have to decide exactly how much of a connection there was between any alleged US buyer and Elcomsoft. The technicalities are beyond me, but that's the basic gist.

      More info here. [eff.org].

      • Buying the key is buying the license. They sold the product in the states.

        Simmilar defenses have been used in drug trafficing cases (I didnt sell them drugs, I sold them the key to the locker in the bus station where the drugs were stored) and they got convictions anyway.

        Simmilarly, I didn't kill anyone, I just hired someone else to kill them.

        If the product is illegal in the US, then selling access to the product from the US is also illegal.
        • Hey, IANAL. As for drug trafficking, it's a bit different. If you have more than a certain amount of the drug, they arrest you for "intent to sell" (as well as posession). More than a certain amount, and you're charged with "trafficking" and "distributing". There is a difference- drug kingpins from columbia aren't charged with selling, but with distributing. They don't directly sell the products, so can't be charged with sales. The difference then between drugs and this case is that drug laws are very well defined by the courts.

          Yes, you are probably right though, and it is probably why they chose to use the free speech argument instead of pursuing jurisdiction. However, it does remain that the DCMA is still vague. Perhaps this case will set a precedent in terms of jurisdiction in international commerce over the internet. Or maybe they'll just leave it for another day. At least, that's my layman's take on the whole thing.

    • ridiculous? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by poemofatic ( 322501 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:46PM (#2921383)
      So then I take it that Amazon can be sued for selling the "Satanic Verses" to Iranian customers? I think the death penalty is still possible for that. And if that were to happen, and say a vice president of Amazon was executed because of it, there would be no outcry about "jurisdiction," because obviously you are bound by all of the laws in the homelands of all of your customers -- and any attempts to question jurisdiction would be "ridiculous".

      More examples: In some countries certain religious books are illegal. Lets hope no executive from Barnes and Noble plans on making a vacation to Beijing. Also, those who provide anonymizers such as (now defunct) safeweb -- even for free -- could easily be arrested on a tourist trip to any number of exotic destinations. According to your logic, by providing a service to a foreigner, they are bound by his laws.

      This is not meant as a flame, but really I think that these arguments apply (predominantly) in one direction -- when a foreign entity violates a US law. So we can kidnap foreign heads of state and try them for violating US drug laws. Or freeze the assets of foreign agencies by executive order and without legal recourse. Just try reversing the situation and watch what a legal uproar would erupt. All of suddenly you'll hear about sovereignty and how international norms trump local laws in certain cases.

      Suddenly, the objection wont seem so ridiculous.

      • If Amazon had an outlet in Iran that was selling them, then yes, they could. The difference is that there was an American company selling the product for them (so it was actually marketed to Americans). Yes, technically they only sold the keys, but without the key, it's useless. That's like saying "I only sell the pages of the book, Russians sell the cover, so it's not bound by American laws." If you use an Americans company to sell your software to Americans, you become bound by American laws.
      • So then I take it that Amazon can be sued for selling the "Satanic Verses" to Iranian customers?

        Yes. So?

        And if that were to happen, and say a vice president of Amazon was executed because of it, there would be no outcry about "jurisdiction," because obviously you are bound by all of the laws in the homelands of all of your customers -- and any attempts to question jurisdiction would be "ridiculous".

        Right. There would be no outcry about "jurisdiction". There would be massive bombing in Iran, and most of the world would be behind it. Just like the U.S. would probably be bombed into a third world country if we executed Dmitry.

    • Actually, the second paragraph of the CNN story states that one of the arguments is that the law "should not apply to a Russian company"
  • This is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gaijin42 ( 317411 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:58PM (#2921046)
    an exceptionally good thing. Here is a clear cut case of the DCMA interfering with fair use. And as a bonus, that fair use isn't tainted by any piracy, mp3, ripping, warezing etc stigma.

    There will come a day when nobody but eccentrics and bibliophiles will read normal books. Everything will be digital. If this case were to succeed, the US government would condem the blind people of the world to illiteracy. (Note to lawyers : feel free to use my comment in your closing arguments :) )
    • Re:This is... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Moridineas ( 213502 )
      There will come a day when nobody but eccentrics and bibliophiles will read normal books. Everything will be digital. If this case were to succeed, the US government would condem the blind people of the world to illiteracy. (Note to lawyers : feel free to use my comment in your closing arguments :) )

      Well, I think you're terribly wrong about this. For one, I think books will be around forever. There are still some serious issues to deal with, that I don't think will all be resolved within our lifetime (I am a college student ;)

      And as for your comment about blind people being condemned to illiteracy, that is just so hysterical it's not even funny. How do you think blind people use computers today?? The reason that ebook readers (hardware, not computer software) haven't been made for blind people is because the overall demand for ebooks is so tiny that the blind market would be so miniscule as to matter not at all. There are a lot of other issues to resolve with ebooks before worrying about special cases like this.

      Scott

      • For one, I think books will be around forever. There are still some serious issues to deal with, that I don't think will all be resolved within our lifetime

        Books will be around forever - people still carve messages into stone, too. But ebooks are feasible today - I've read several books off my computer. I don't see why the few remaining materials technology problems aren't going to be solved, and something cheaper and more searchable should overtake a lot of the non-decorative uses for paper books.

        And as for your comment about blind people being condemned to illiteracy, that is just so hysterical it's not even funny.

        Why? It's a logical result of what happens if the blind are prevented from reading.

        How do you think blind people use computers today??

        Are you implying that the blind can't use computers? One of the college system administrators is blind. If you have a GUI, you override the standard GUI display function to send it to a text to speech converter. If you use console, you just send the screen to a text to speech converter as appropriate.

        the overall demand for ebooks is so tiny that the blind market would be so miniscule as to matter not at all. There are a lot of other issues to resolve with ebooks before worrying about special cases like this.

        Good engineering demands that you don't put stuff like this off until the end when all you can provide is a hack. Design it right the first time, so the blind and the Chinese and the Hindi and all the other "special cases" can be handled cleanly.
        • Books will be around forever - people still carve messages into stone, too. But ebooks are feasible today - I've read several books off my computer. I don't see why the few remaining materials technology problems aren't going to be solved, and something cheaper and more searchable should overtake a lot of the non-decorative uses for paper books.

          That's your opinion...mine is that it still doesn't work 1/100 as well as an actual book. I find my focus and retention from reading off a monitor is not the same as a book. This an opinion thing though, so no more can really be said.

          On your second point, I'm forced to admit that you are correct..if the blind are prevented from reading, then they can't read...yeah, that makes sense, I'm not sure I would've followed that leap of logic if you hadn't pointed it out :P But who is preventing the blind from reading?? no one! No one is saying anything that could be possibly construed that way.

          Are you implying that the blind can't use computers? One of the college system administrators is blind. If you have a GUI, you override the standard GUI display function to send it to a text to speech converter. If you use console, you just send the screen to a text to speech converter as appropriate.

          Of course!! And it's via these and similar ebook methods that ebook readers for blind people will no doubt be available. Or perhaps even better a text->braille converter.

          Good engineering demands that you don't put stuff like this off until the end when all you can provide is a hack. Design it right the first time, so the blind and the Chinese and the Hindi and all the other "special cases" can be handled cleanly.

          Can you give me some example of how ebooks today are engineered at a fundamental level so as not to allow eventual blind access via methods that you and I both pointed out? I don't really see the point of your argument here, doesn't seem to make sense.

          Scott

          • mine is that it still doesn't work 1/100 as well as an actual book. I find my focus and retention from reading off a monitor is not the same as a book. This an opinion thing though, so no more can really be said.

            I've read several books off a monitor, and never had a problem. I would guess it's an acquired trait.

            And it's via these and similar ebook methods that ebook readers for blind people will no doubt be available.

            Ah, but these methods provide plain text to the external world, which is a big no-no in the proprietary ebook universe. If I'm not mistaken, all output of a ebook program is rendered directly to the screen.

            The best possible format for blind readers is something like HTML or plain text that isn't inherantly bound to the features and limitations of the visual world. But they aren't going to do that, are they?

            Can you give me some example of how ebooks today are engineered at a fundamental level so as not to allow eventual blind access via methods that you and I both pointed out?

            They're encrypted and attached to a proprietary, visual-only reader, for one . . .
            • The book has evolved over thousands of years. Thousands of hours have gone into the development of every aspect...size, fonts, look, colors, etc. ebooks will take a while to match.

              So whose to stop them from making a proprietary, braille reader. Or a proprietary reader that speaks the ebook?

              Scott
              • So whose to stop them from making a proprietary, braille reader.

                As you pointed out, why should they? Blind people are small demographic; where's the profit in it?
                • Why do reading aids such as special magnifying lenses and other attachments to normal books exist today (for a small demographic). Because there's almost always money to be made. A good family friend is legally blind, and a librarian. As my grandparents are getting older, he's given them catalogues of stuff for legally blind/blind people...there's a lot of it--there clearly IS money to be made here.

                  Scott
    • Interestingly, this is covered directly by this law [cornell.edu] stating that reproductions for blind people are specifically covered and protected.
  • Wise move... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Amarok.Org ( 514102 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:59PM (#2921055)

    Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument.

    I think this is a very wise move on their part. While the basis for a US court having jurisdiction is somewhat questionable (IANAL), if that's a cornerstone of their defense, they end up in a very precarious position.

    Should a judge decide that in fact he/she *DOES* have jurisdiction, a major portion of the case is lost, and that momentum loss would be very difficult to recover from. Rather than challenge jurisdiction, they're challenging the overly ambiguous and inevenly applied law itself. I say good for them.

    • Not basing their case on "we didn't violate Russian low" is good move because the US jurisdiction, when applied to foreigners or foreign companies, tends to have the backing of the US government. It becomes political, and the current Moscow government which has been trying to get buddy-buddy with the Bush administration might bend on american government pressure (Not a good thing for any country, but politics is never rational). So the case might just be a lost cause from the beginning.

      On the other hand, fighting this case on the basis that DMCA is too broad, too stupid and unconstitutional, can actually rally grass root movement behind them, not just people in Russia. And it's not the case of "US-Russian vs Them-American". It's a case of "We-normal-good-people vs Them-Evil-Corporation-backed-by-stupid-law". Even if they eventually loose the case, it still makes them look good, and generates a lot of good publicicty. Do you think you would hear of that company if not for that case? I didn't, but all I know now is that the company seems to be really cool.
  • by jfrumkin ( 97854 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:01PM (#2921070) Homepage
    One of the lone bright spots from events such as this is that they bring attention to the issue (both good and bad). However, we shouldn't forget that the DMCA is not the only piece of legislation that scares the bejeepers out of people; UCITA is still alive and kicking (a good link on the issues surrounding UCITA is http://www.ala.org/washoff/ucita/index.html [ala.org]
  • Actually Useful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nixadmin ( 553533 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:05PM (#2921110)
    OK, I'm guilty - I have tried ElcomSoft's E-Book processor. A client sent a PDF that was locked to the point where we couldn't even print it. They refused to send an unprotected copy, so I unprotected the one we had and printed the puppy. I was tempted to send them the printout but decided that getting paid would be better. : )
    • was tempted to send them the printout but decided that getting paid would be better. : )

      Simple, send it to them after you cash the check :)

      -
  • not going the route of an easy defense of "We are Russian, this is an American law" and actually challenging the DMCA straight up. Good for them!

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob(TM) ( 104510 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:08PM (#2921133)
    The real irony here is that a Russian company is effectively working to defend American freedoms against its own capitalistic forces. Should make for some pretty amusing classroom reading in about 100 years.
    • And the irony of that irony is that this is probably the best way to do it, because if the case goes against them they shouldn't really suffer serious financial punishment. The "aggrieved party" would have to sue them in Russia. :-)
    • Re:Irony (Score:3, Interesting)

      by virtros ( 513852 )
      The real irony here is that a Russian company is effectively working to defend American freedoms against its own capitalistic forces. Should make for some pretty amusing classroom reading in about 100 years.


      This is precisely the the same thought that i first had. I find it amusing yet somewhat sad that this is the sase however...Though it IS quite amazing if you think that 20, 15, or perhaps as reciently as 10 years ago one would have been regarded as insane had they predicted that in 2002 a Russian company be in such a position. It is sad that we (as Americans) had to resort to an external entity to help protect what liberties we have remaining. As a society we have aparently become as fat and lazy as the rest of the world quietly quips behind our backs. Even this new found "Patriotism" that seems to be sweeping the nation doesn't have the same ring to it that existed post WWII, ask any old vet. I'm sure they'll agree...provided they are able to see objectively past the patriotism of their youth. Todays patriotisn (much like the commercolympics) is more about slapping a Flag (tm) on the back of your truck (tm) and watching 15 thousand "we support the USA buy our product" commercials than actually uniting as a country. Hell, scientists barely share information with each other any more for fear that someone else might be first to market with the new and improved cheese spread (tm). And not to be hypocritical, i'm as guilty as everyone else.

      only problem is that the bigger and more successful america becomes, the bigger and unmanageable the problem gets.

      call it the paradox of national success. perhaps that is what they will read about in 150 years.

      provided that something more than roaches are around.

      virtros

      (i could go on for hours about this...)
      • only problem is that the bigger and more successful america becomes, the bigger and unmanageable the problem gets.

        Yep. More people, fewer resources, more friction--the rat race is simply accelerating, and things will only get worse before they get better, especially as more people get angrier about the "unfair" distribution of wealth on this shrinking planet.

        Pressure....is....building.........Good thing there's a few awesome technology release valves just over the horizon (which I don't need to expound on here).

        --

  • yes and (Score:3, Interesting)

    by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:10PM (#2921146) Journal
    Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument."

    Is not a good argument. He was in the US when he was showing it which is what they are talking about. The reality is that the DCMA does have to much power. Copywright was supposed to be so that credit is given to he who deserves it not for the music companies to screw every by.

    The whole idea of a copywright is so that if someone write a report or something then they can copywright it and if you use their ideas you are supposed to reference them. Copywright was made for documents like books and publications. We've since taken it to a bad place.

    • The whole idea of a copywright is so that if someone write a report or something then they can copywright it and if you use their ideas you are supposed to reference them. Copywright was made for documents like books and publications. We've since taken it to a bad place.

      Absolutely not. Copyright has nothing to do with crediting people's ideas; ideas themselves are left unprotected by copyright. While it's true that you can sometimes quote the particular expression, credit has little to do with whether a use is fair or not. The idea behind copyright is to facilitate the creation of works by providing a property incentive. (Not that it's the best or only way to do this.)
    • spelling (Score:3, Funny)

      Please note, the correct misspelling of "copyright" is "copywrite", not "copywright".

      • Gee thanks for your insight on spelling. Maybe slashdot should have a spell checker so people like you wont post!

        You probably drive an SUV and drive, talk on the phone while smoking a cigarette, and eat.

        Let me guess you a grammer teacher too?

        • Blockquoth the poster:

          Let me guess you a grammer teacher too?

          I'm sorry, that should be "Let me guess -- are you are grammar teacher, too?" :)


          In all seriousness, chill out. It seems clear to me that the original respondent was only trying to be funny -- notice "The correct misspelling", as if any misspelling could be correct -- and was not launching any sort of personal attack. We all screw up spelling, especially online, especially-squared on slashdot. That doesn't mean it should be glossed over.

  • by Score0, Overrated ( 550447 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:11PM (#2921150) Homepage

    If they get a dismissal, then that means the DMCA will go unchallenged right?

    The decision won't have precedent over any subsequent case?
    • If they get a dismissal, then that means the DMCA will go unchallenged right?

      Depends on whether the judge issues a narrow opinion or a wide opinion. A narrow opinion affects only one case; a wide opinion defines the scope of the DMCA and gives the copyright national-socialists [google.com] more or less power.

  • I applaud ElcomSoft for filing for dismissal of the E-Book case.

    Seeing how they are a Russian company, and they did not violate Russian law, I believe that this entire case is a moot point anyway. Furthermore, I believe that Adobe made a very bad decision, and they should pay for it, by providing full legal defence for ElcomSoft, and for lobbying heavily to have the DMCA recalled.

    Until Adobe shifts their entire focus to recalling the DMCA, I won't purchase any of their products.

    • Seeing how they are a Russian company, and they did not violate Russian law, I believe that this entire case is a moot point anyway.

      They arrested a representative of Elcomsoft who was breaking U.S. law (the DMCA) by giving a lecture in the U.S. on how to break cryptography protecting eBooks.

      Furthermore, I believe that Adobe made a very bad decision, and they should pay for it, by providing full legal defence for ElcomSoft, and for lobbying heavily to have the DMCA recalled.

      All that Adobe did is tell the Justice Department that a representative of Elcomsoft was violating the DMCA. It was the Justice Department that elected to arrest him and press charges (though it could be argued that the Justice Department, under the current administration, has gotten far too friendly with major corporations like Adobe and Microsoft).

      Until Adobe shifts their entire focus to recalling the DMCA, I won't purchase any of their products.

      If "their entire focus" is the recall of the DMCA, they won't be developing any products for you to buy, will they?

      The DMCA benefits big software companies like Adobe and they are no more likely to push for its recall than the RIAA is to push for the recall of copyright protections.
  • by Accord MT ( 542922 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:13PM (#2921166)
    Your Rights Online...

    We've heard a lot of talk lately about freedom of speech and expression, and how it relates to the Internet. Some say you should be able to say whatever you want on the Internet, without the U.S. government's permission. Although this is an interesting idea, it's not going to happen--and I'll tell you why: You have no rights online!

    That's right, kids. No matter how much you would like to shout "virus" in a crowded chat room, there is nothing that gives you the right to do it! Examine, if you will, the two most important law documents in the world: The U.S. Constitutuion and the Bible. Neither of these documents even _mention_ the Internet. Some might argue that these texts were written long before anyone even knew of the Internet. True, but they were written by God Almighty, Who, of course, knew in advance that the Internet and other forms of electronic devilry would come to corrupt mankind.

    The concept that your rights to free speech, press and religion, apply online is an outrageous liberal myth, perpetuated by communist groups like the EFF and ACLU, which are funded by underground criminal hacker groups. By stealing billions of dollars in movies, music and software, all the while hiding behind the fantasy that they are supported by the Constitution, these pirates deprive media and software executives of the five or six Cadillacs they rightly deserve.

    I propose that we lobby Congress to shut down the Internet altogether. Most of what takes place online is illegal, anyway (software/media piracy and pornography). Then tracking down criminals would be a simple matter of following telephone and cable lines, and the concept of "online rights" would be exposed as what it really is: a laughable fantasy.

    Thank you.

  • I'm not sure that I would necessarily consider this news.

    Whenever lawyers go to court, inevitably their first motion is to dismiss the case. It's pretty much par for the course. They present their reasons (which might be swaying to us, as sympathetic readers), but the other side will have the opposite opinion and the judge usually doesn't support the motion.

    I think it's very unlikely that any judge will rule that the DMCA is too vague without even having a trial.

    This won't actually do anything.
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <gnovos@ch i p p e d . net> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:22PM (#2921232) Homepage Journal
    Let's say for a second that they LOST the case. Seing as they are in RUSSIA, what possible punishment could be handed to them by the courts?

    "Come over here so we can arrest you!" ???

    I wish Common Sense was still in common practice in the judicial system.
  • by The Slashdolt ( 518657 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:25PM (#2921259) Homepage
    Can be found here [themoscowtimes.com]. In the article, Sklyarov comments about copyright laws, the prison system and about his background.

  • Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument.

    Interesting in what way? They didn't break Russian law, but they did break US law when they sold it here. Whether you agree with the DMCA or not, it is (currently) a law, which Elcomsoft broke.

    The "didn't violate Russian law" thing works fine for Dmitri; his company broke the law by selling the product here, not him.

    -Legion

  • by Jim Tyre ( 100017 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:38PM (#2921336) Homepage
    Reading the comments so far, there seems to be a basic misunderstanding of what is happening in the case. Awhile ago, the judge set a briefing schedule for briefs on different issues. Yesterday, ElcomSoft filed two briefs, but that filing comes after the two briefs which it filed on January 14, including one [eff.org] which specifically raises the issue of ElcomSoft being a Russian company.

    These briefs raise issues in the alternative: If ElcomSoft loses on one, it preserves the right to argue the other, but it hasn't given up the right to pursue any viable legal theory.

  • Dangerous Ground (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <gnovos@ch i p p e d . net> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:38PM (#2921341) Homepage Journal
    The courts are playing with fire and I don't think they ever realize it. Right now, it's *illegal* to create media in Russia that cannot be copied (for personal use, of course). If ElcomSoft, a very small company that can't possibly offer anything of monetary value to the US, is convicted for violating US law, then I guarantee you there will be trials held in Russia with our very own software companies as the defendants. Adobe (and others) may not make a huge chunck of it's profit from Russian sales, but it can't be insignifigant either. Furthermore, allowing the trial to continue opens the doors for every banana republic and grudge bearing backwater country to start suing our companies for violating thier newly enacted laws.
  • I wrote mine (Sen. Chafee of RI) and he responded, or at least someone on his staff did. His perspective was that rules/laws need to be in place, but that new technologies and new markets do not always fit into old models. He claimed to be happy to hear my suggestions. We all owe it to ourselves to be heard - there's no use whining about laws without letting the Government know how you feel. I'm sure Congress doesn't read Slashdot.
  • While I pretty much agree with everything ElcomSoft established in its brief (DMCA violates free speech, fair use, etc.), I can't help but thinking that we're headed down the same road, and that a federal judge will take one look at the complaint and dismiss it. The Felton case look like a perfect challenge, and look how far that trial got.

    I fear that, short of repealing the DMCA, there's not much we can but stop and wait for the pendulum to swing back to the fair use camp. After all, the courts aren't backing us, and with a few notable exceptions, we have very few supporters in Congress. We shouldn't give up, but can we really compete with the lobbying dollars from the RIAA and the MPAA? One thing we do know is that absolute power corrupts, and eventually, the organizations representing copyright holders will go way to far, and a backlash will ensue.

    • While I pretty much agree with everything ElcomSoft established in its brief (DMCA violates free speech, fair use, etc.), I can't help but thinking that we're headed down the same road, and that a federal judge will take one look at the complaint and dismiss it. The Felton case look like a perfect challenge, and look how far that trial got.

      There is a major difference between the Felten case and this one.

      In Felten, the judge never addressed the merits of the DMCA argument, finding instead that there was no case or controversy, because the threats were either withdrawn or misunderstood. Here, Elcomsoft specifically has been charged with violating the DMCA, so the threshhold jurisdiction question which the Judge found in Felten will not be an issue at all here. Unless the charges are dropped in this case or there is a plea, the Court cannot avoid addressing the constitutionality of the DMCA.

      -J, one of the Felten team lawyers

  • The We-didn't-violate-Russian-law argument is being made, in a separate motion:

    Elcomsoft Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction [eff.org]

    Even if the court were to find that Congress intended for section 1201 to apply extraterritorially, you must nevertheless conclude that the exercise of jurisdiction in this case does not meet constitutional standards. Application of section 1201 extraterritorially is also improper because its application in that manner would violate the norms of due process, including: (1) the rule of lenity; (2) the right of fair warning; and (3) the requirement of a sufficient nexus between the alleged conduct and the United States. "Under the rule of lenity, an ambiguous criminal statute is to be strictly construed against the Government." United States v. Bin Laden, 92 F.Supp.2d 189, 216 (S.D.N.Y.2000). The principle of fair warning requires those subject to the law have a "fair warning . . . in language that the common world will understand, of what the law intends to do if a certain line is passed. To make the warning fair, so far as possible the line should be clear." McBoyle v. United States, 283 U.S. 25, 27 (1931). In this case, regardless of whether the actions of Elcomsoft are deemed to have occurred within or without the United States, Elcomsoft had no warning that section 1201 could be applicable to its actions.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @04:57PM (#2921441) Homepage Journal
    This part of the Elcomsoft Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction [eff.org] is particulary interesting (emphasis added):
    This motion presents an issue of first impression - may section 1201 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act ("DMCA") be applied to a foreign corporation for conduct allegedly within its purview, but which occurred entirely on the Internet in cyberspace. We believe that law and logic compels the court to conclude that it may not be so applied. Elcomsoft believes and asserts that because of the unique nature of the Internet, it's alleged conduct, which only took place on and by means of the Internet occurred outside of the territorial jurisdiction United States. That is, it was extraterritorial in nature.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • "The DMCA--Keeping the blind in the dark since [insert year found from google search I was too lazy to do]"

    We should make up a bunch of these and send a big box to each of the offices of the law's big proponents.
  • by pschmied ( 5648 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @05:50PM (#2921788) Homepage
    Adobe should be bending over backward kissing ElcomSoft's ass for not just breaking and rereleasing Adobe's own software and selling it on the street in Moscow.

    I just spent the last month in Moscow where one can purchase the Russian edition of Windows XP for the modest price of 70 Rubles (~30 Rubles = 1 USD). I'm sure that every penny went to Bill Gates. Just like the 80 Ruble copies of Shrek in DivX format and 60 Ruble copies of The Sims plus every expansion pack are surely on the up and up.

    -Peter
  • On a related note... (Score:4, Informative)

    by pjl5602 ( 150416 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @05:53PM (#2921802) Homepage
    Apparently Congressman Boucher (D-VA) thinks [com.com] it's time for the DMCA to be rewritten.

    Can't say I disagree with him one bit...
  • I don't think playing the sympathy card by saying it empowers blind people will help much..

    Everyone knows blind people have been violating copyright laws for ages by illegally copying and distributing books on tape.

    I can't possibly imagine why any noble company such as Elcomsoft would want to be aligned with evil blind people.
  • "Enable the blind to read legally obtained e-books"

    The concept is fantastic and elcom soft would have a open market all over the world for this product if they win the case.

    It would really help for them to win otherwise blind people would have to use illegal instruments to be able to read books and they could all go to jail.

    Maybe the American Foundation for the Blind [afb.org] would have to say something about this and make the case stronger because after all every seven minutes somebody in America will become blind or visually impaired.
  • I'd say that the US can now finally show if they really mean it when say "Infinite Justice" or "Enduring Freedom". They've neen doing a good job and made a decent decision ba releasing Sklyarov but it still is a scandal that he was jailed so long for such a "questionable" delict.

    I'll be bashed by almost anyone from the States for this, but what the heck - life gets boring at karma cap.
  • Interesting to note that there is no mention of the 'we didn't violate Russian law' argument."

    "Burton also filed motions to dismiss based on arguments that the law doesn't apply to a foreign company doing business solely on the internet..." (news.com)

    This is perhaps a more important point than even the flaws in the DCMA.

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