US arrests programmer over circumvention of copyright protections
Affidavit identifies Dmitry Sklyarov copyright holder of AEBPR software

Originally posted: 16 July 2001
Last Updated: July 18, 2001 at 2:10:25 p.m. UTC

As first reported at Planet eBook on July 16, ElcomSoft employee Dmitry Sklyarov was detained and arrested by FBI officials just before he was to return to Moscow, and shortly after giving a presentation at the popular DefCon hacker convention called eBooks security -- theory and practice.

Since yesterday the news of his detainment and the reasons behind it have spread across the Web, with news items being published by most major news outlets. Discussions too have arisen across the Web in a range of related areas, including the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the changing nature of Fair Use, and ebook and PDF security. A small sample of ongoing discussions include:

A developer of Advanced eBook Processor (AEBPR), Sklyarov is being detained without bail in Las Vegas awaiting judgement in California and faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

The affidavit issued against Dmitry Sklyarov alleges that he is in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 1201(b)(1)(A) -- circumvention of copyright protections, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2 -- aiding and abetting. The affidavit goes on to say how "a review of the opening screen on the Elcomsoft software purchased showed that a person named Dmitry Sklyarov is identified as being the copyright holder" of the AEBPR software.

According to a NY Times article today, one of the assistant United States attorneys involved in the case, Scott Frewing, is quoted as saying that "the question of jurisdiction was not particularly in contest in this case," because at the time of sale the software was being sold through United States-based company, Register Now.

While it is not the first criminal case brought under the DMCA, at least one expert believes its importance may be large. According to a Reuters article posted earlier today which quotes Dario Diaz, an attorney who specializes in digital copyright law, "This could be the test case; the case to set the precedent."

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