DoJ Press Release on Sklyarov Prosecution (July 17, 2001)
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of
11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36055
San Francisco, California 94102
Tel: (415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2001
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California
announced that Dmitry Sklyarov, of Moscow, Russia, made an initial appearance
yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a complaint from the Northern District of
California charging a single count of trafficking in a product designed to
circumvent copyright protection measures in violation of Title 17, United States
Code, Section 1201(b)(1)(A). This is one of the first prosecutions in the United
States under this statute, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA").
According to an affidavit filed by an agent of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation in connection with the criminal complaint, Mr. Sklyarov is alleged
to have been the author of a program, "Advanced eBook Processor," that unlocked
the "eBook Reader" produced by Adobe Systems, Inc. Consumers can download eBook
Reader onto their personal computers in order to purchase electronic books in
the eBook format from on-line booksellers such as Amazon.com or
BarnesandNoble.com. The eBook Reader permits consumers to read the encrypted
eBook only on the specific computer utilized to engage in the transaction.
Because the book is sold in encrypted form and is only accessible through the
eBook Reader, the copyright holder's interest in the book is protected.
According to the affidavit, the Advanced eBook Processor permitted users of
the program to decrypt an eBook in a manner such that the eBook could be opened
in any Portable Document Format ("PDF") viewer such as Adobe Acrobat reader, and
the file would have no restrictions on editing, copying and printing the eBook.
The affidavit states that the Advanced eBook Processor would allow anyone to
read the eBook on any computer without paying the fee to the bookseller. The
affidavit alleges that the program itself lists Mr. Sklyarov as the copyright
holder of the Advanced eBook Processor, and that the program was distributed by
ElcomSoft Company, Ltd. of Moscow, Russia, through its website.
The website for the "Defcon-9" conference in Las Vegas, Nevada states that
Mr. Sklyarov was scheduled to speak at the Defcon-9 conference, scheduled for
July 13-15. The Defcon-9 conference website describes the conference as "an
annual computer underground party for hackers in Las Vegas," and it states that
Mr. Sklyarov's speech would include "security aspects of electronic books and
The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of Title 17, United
States Code, Section 1201(b)(1)(A) is five years imprisonment and a fine of
$500,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be dictated by the
Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and
would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. A complaint simply contains
allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Sklyarov must
be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.
Mr. Sklyarov made his initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas,
yesterday, July 16, 2001. Mr. Sklyarov was detained without bail and ordered
removed to the Northern District of California. No dates have been set for the
defendant«s next appearance.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by agents of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. Scott Frewing and Joseph Sullivan are the Assistant
U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lauri Gomez.
A copy of this press release and key court documents filed in the case may
also be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's website at www.usaondca.com.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415)436-7181.