[free-sklyarov] PRESS RELEASE: Libertarians Call for Dmitry Sklyarov's Release

Christopher R. Maden crism at maden.org
Wed Aug 8 08:56:45 PDT 2001

Libertarian Party of San Francisco Media Release


8 August 2001

Contact: Christopher R. Maden
E-mail: crism at maden.org
Telephone: +1.415.845.8202

San Francisco, August 8, 2001 - The Libertarian Party of San Francisco 
joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Adobe Systems Inc. in calling 
for the end of criminal proceedings against Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov.

Sklyarov was arrested in Las Vegas on July 16 for violating the Digital 
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), based on a complaint filed by 
Adobe.  Adobe has dropped the complaint and called for Sklyarov's release, 
but the US Attorney's Office is continuing the prosecution 
nonetheless.  Sklyarov is currently free on $50,000 bail pending trial.

"This case demonstrates the immediate dangers of big government," said 
Christopher Maden, a San Francisco Libertarian and professional ebook 
consultant.  "When the government is permitted to pass restrictive, 
unconstitutional laws like the DMCA, it's natural, and even rational, for 
companies like Adobe to use them to their best advantage."

"What we have here is a modern retelling of the Emperor's New 
Clothes.  Unlike the Hans Christian Andersen fable, when the little Russian 
boy tells the world that the Emperor has no clothes, the Imperial Guard 
beheads the kid before anyone else can hear," said Robert Hansen, a 
Libertarian and cryptanalyst.  He points out that public exposure is the 
best way to build secure computer systems; however, the DMCA discourages 
researchers from publishing their analyses, despite a research exemption in 
the law.  "In order to protect these anemic security mechanisms, businesses 
and governments will rely on the brute power of the courts to keep those 
who understand from sharing their knowledge."

Maden called Adobe's tactics "bullying by government proxy," saying, "Adobe 
knew that a civil action was more appropriate, but as their general counsel 
told National Public Radio with a laugh, 'Honestly, we didn't think the 
likelihood was terribly high of getting any money out of a Russian company' 
- so they put a man in jail.  The effort backfired and they dropped the 
complaint, but the Department of Justice wants to show it's tough on 
'cybercrime,' and who better to demonstrate on than a scary 'Russian hacker'?"

Sklyarov is a 26-year old Ph.D. candidate at the prestigious Bauman Moscow 
State Technical University.  He is married with two children, a 
two-and-a-half-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter.  He is charged 
with "trafficking in forbidden technology," as Maden put it in an article 
in the LPSF's newsletter, for creating the algorithms in Elcom's Advanced 
eBook Processor.

Maden wrote, "There are several important reasons to set him free:

"1) He is charged with trafficking in forbidden technology.  He did not 
sell the program; his employer did.  Although three ElcomSoft employees 
were at the conference, including the president, it was Sklyarov who was 
arrested.  It seems obvious that an example is being made of him.

"2) The DMCA specifically allows for narrow fair use exemptions from the 
civil and criminal violations it defines.  AEBPR will only unlock a book 
legitimately purchased by the user; it can not be used to steal others' 
books.  It is thus probable that the program does not even violate the law.

"3) The DMCA is a very bad law.  It has a demonstrably chilling effect on 
speech...  AEBPR is a tool with legitimate and illegal uses, like a 
lockpick, a crowbar, a car, and a gun.  Outlawing the tool does not help."

Copyrights were created to encourage authors to publish their work.  The 
legal doctrine of "fair use" says that, copyright notwithstanding, freedom 
of speech gives people the right to use copyrighted work in parody, satire, 
and criticism.  The DMCA lets publishers take those rights away with 
technology, and outlaws other technology that would restore those 
rights.  "Now we have the ironic situation of a Russian martyr to freedom 
trapped in America, thousands of miles from his family, for helping people 
to read," said Maden.

About LPSF:

The Libertarian Party of San Francisco (www.lpsf.org) is the local 
affiliate of the Libertarian Party (www.lp.org), the largest "third party" 
in the United States.  Libertarians believe in personal freedom, in both 
social and economic spheres, and in minimal government to protect those 

- end -

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