[free-sklyarov] "Free Dmitry" protests in London and Edinburgh on Thursday, 30 August 2001

Julian T. J. Midgley jtjm at xenoclast.org
Tue Aug 28 15:50:27 PDT 2001

A copy of the press release for the UK protests in London and Edinburgh
follows.  Towards the bottom you'll also find a brief introduction to the
Campaign for Digital Rights, an organisation formed by the UK Free
Sklyarov Protesters to ensure that the EUCD (the European DMCA) is
suitably revised before enactment.

August 28, 2001

Press Contact: Julian T. J. Midgley <jtjm at uk.eurorights.org>
               Phone: +44 7713 166000


Cambridge, England -

Peaceful protesters from the Campaign for Digital Rights will gather
again outside the US Embassy in London at 1330 on Thursday, 30 August,
to demand that the charges against Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov
be dropped, and the DMCA (the law under which he is charged) revised
or repealed.  A simultaneous event will take place in Edinburgh.  All
are welcome. Details of both protests are available at:

These protests reflect international outrage at Dmitry's arrest-
similar protests will be held on the same day in Russia in
Moscow, and in the USA in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Boston, Black Rock City and Reno.  (See
http://freesklyarov.org/calendar/ for details).


Dmitry Sklyarov's arrest on July 16, for a violation of the Digital
Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), has chilled academic research into
cryptography on both sides of the Atlantic, and led UK academics and
programmers to call for conferences to be held outside the USA so that
they can attend them without fear of lawsuits or arrest. Alan Cox, the
prominent Linux kernel programmer, has resigned from the committee of
USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association, since he no longer
feels able to attend USENIX events in the USA for fear of prosecution
under the DMCA for his work on the Linux kernel.  Similar fears
prompted Dutch Cryptographer Niels Ferguson to decide not to publish
an academic paper describing security weaknesses in a content
protection mechanism.  In the United States, a Professor Felten was
threatened with legal action under the DMCA if he published a paper
describing flaws in a digital watermarking scheme.

Dmitry himself will be arraigned on the 30th in San Jose, and faces a
fine of up to $500,000 and up to five years imprisonment if he is
found guilty; this for writing a program that, at the very worst, is
nothing more than a digital crowbar, with perfectly legitimate uses.
He is not charged with copyright infringement, nor has any copyright
infringement been attributed to the users of the program, distributed
by Elcomsoft, a Russian software company.  Adobe Systems Inc, the
company which sells the eBook software at which Dmitry's program was
targetted, and which filed the original complaint with the FBI, has
since joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for the
charges against Dmitry to be dropped.  Nevertheless, the case
proceeds, being seen by the recording and publishing industries as an
important test case for the new law, and by programmers, academics,
librarians and many others worldwide as a dangerous threat to
traditional freedoms.

With foreign nationals being arrested for reverse engineering software
programs, and academics being gagged by threats from publishing
companies, the United States of America is no longer "The Land of the

Traditionally, those of us in Europe would sit back smugly at this
point and laugh quietly at yet another ridiculous piece of American
legislation that doesn't affect us.  This time, we can afford to do no
such thing.  Not only does the DMCA itself stretch its tentacles
across the Atlantic to silence our academics and still the fingers of
our programmers, but, in less than 16 months, the European Copyright
Directive (the EUCD) will be enacted in the EU member states, with
near identical provisions forbidding the circumvention of "copy
protection mechanisms".

The Campaign for Digital Rights

The UK Campaign for Digital Rights has formed to ensure that by the
time that the EUCD is passed into law, it has been revised to the
extent that it no longer threatens academic research or the public's
ability to make fair use of electronic books, music and videos.

It is important to stress that we respect absolutely the principal of
copyright; many of our members are programmers and authors whose works
enjoy the traditional protections of copyright - we do not condone
copyright infringement in any form.  However, we firmly believe that
by making the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms a crime,
laws such as the DMCA and EUCD threaten legitimate academic research
and the work of respectable computer programmers.  Furthermore, by
effectively prohibiting discussion of the weaknesses of particular
copy protection schemes, these laws practically guarantee that copy
protection mechanisms will be weak and easily broken, to the detriment
of the very authors and musicians whose work they are designed to

The Campaign for Digital Rights is working together with industry,
academics, the Foundation for Information Policy Research
(http://www.fipr.org/), and similar organisations throughout Europe
and America.  For more information, mailing lists, et al, see:

Julian T. J. Midgley                      http://www.xenoclast.org/
Cambridge, England.                          PGP Key ID: 0xBCC7863F
Beware the European Copyright Directive:  http://uk.eurorights.org/

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