Adobe agrees to meet with EFF on DMCA criminal case
Other groups may continue protest plans in support of Dmitry
21 July 2001
On the eve of a public protest outside its San Jose
headquarters and several other cities and countries, Adobe Systems
has agreed to meet with representatives from the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF). In return, the EFF is asking for a rally planned
for Monday to be put on hold, aiming to discuss in good faith with Adobe key issues
related to legal action the company instigated recently against an
employee of ElcomSoft Ltd., a Russian software company. However, many involved
with the protest plan to proceed regardless expressing concerns about the
effectiveness of talks at this stage.
Earlier in the week, the EFF had issued an "Action Alert" calling
for a series of nation-wide and international "Free Dmitry!" rallies on July 23 to protest Adobe's
role in the FBI's recent arrest of an ElcomSoft software programmer.
Dmitry Sklyarov was charged with violating Section 1201 of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act, designed to prohibit circumvention
of copyright protection technologies such as that used by publishers
selling encrypted eBooks in Adobe PDF.
While the EFF has temporarily suspended its proactive role in
promoting protests in favor of the arranged meeting, other activist
groups still appear likely to gather Monday, based on discussions on
a newly launched "Free Sklyarov" email discussion list. Many doubt
Adobe's sincerity in its agreement to meet with the EFF, believing it
to be a stall tactic rather than a genuine effort to try to find what
some rally organizers consider the only appropriate resolution --
Adobe withdrawing its criminal complaint against Sklyarov. Others
appear to prefer having the case to go to trial in order to test the
constitutionality of the DMCA, a still controversial and untested
Robin Gross, attorney with the EFF, says "The U.S. government for
the first time is prosecuting a programmer for building a tool that
may be used for many purposes, including those that legitimate
purchasers need in order to exercise their fair use rights."
The hasty recall of its call to action left the EFF in a somewhat
awkward position, hoping to quell as much of the planned public
protests it had helped to engineer while not looking like it was
bowing to corporate pressures.
"We can always rekindle the protest if Adobe does not agree to
withdraw their complaint
to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Dmitry Sklyarov," wrote
Will Doherty, EFF's Online Activist for Media Relations to discussion
list subscribers, "and to refuse to pursue further prosecutions under
the DMCA for cases that should be prevented under fair use provisions
of US copyright law."