Feeds

Sklyarov case shows business outweighs First Amendment

Crypto expert weighs into DMCA

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Noted cryptographer Bruce Schneier has produced a damning critique of the way the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was used to jail Russian software researcher Dmitry Sklyarov.

Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, and inventor of the Blowfish algorithm, will argue in the next issue of his Crypro-Gram email newsletter that the Sklyarov case shows the DMCA is being used to restrict basic freedoms of speech.

A copy of his essay, which will be published on August 15, was sent by Schneier to the Register in order to raise awareness about the ramification for security research raised by the case.

Although Sklyarov was released earlier this week on bail of $50,000, the prosecution against him continues and Schneier's comments are interesting because they highlight some of the wider issues the case raises.

One of the main points Schneier makes is that provisions in the DMCA that allow for security research "which I and others fought hard to have included" are being ignored in the Sklyarov case and others, such as the DeCSS case against 2600 Magazine.

"What the DMCA has done is create a new controlled technology," Schneier argues. "In the United States there are several technologies that normal citizens are prohibited from owning: lock picks, fighter aircraft, pharmaceuticals, explosives.

"In each of these cases, only people with the proper credentials can legally buy and sell these technologies. The DMCA goes one step further, though. Not only are circumvention tools controlled, but information about them are."

Sklyarov was engaged in legitimate security research, Schneier said, but for highlighting the poor security of eBook readers, and working for a firm that develops software that "circumvents these ineffectual security systems" he ended up in jail.

Schneier recalls cases in the seventies when the government failed to get a restraining article preventing The Progressive publishing an article containing technical information on H-Bomb design.

He compares this to Sklyarov's plight which he said illustrates that publishing critical research on digital rights management technology used to protect electronic books is viewed as "more serious than publishing nuclear weapon design information".

This seems to go a bit far but makes the point that freedom of speech is going out the window in this case, or as Schneier puts it: "Welcome to 21st Century America, where the profits of the major record labels, movie houses, and publishing companies are more important than First Amendment rights."

Schneier compares the actions of the entertainment industry with the ill-fated attempt of the NSA to restrict access to encryption technology in the 1990s.

Both the actions of the NSA of the use of the DMCA by the entertainment industry are prepared to resort to unconstitutional methods, Schneier argues.

"The entertainment industry is fighting a holding action, and fear, uncertainty, and doubt are their weapons," Schneier writes, "The DMCA is unconstitutional, but they don't care. Until it's ruled unconstitutional, they've won. The charges against Sklyarov won't stick, but the chilling effect it will have on other researchers will." ®

External Links

Electronic Frontier Foundation (which is leading the campaign to get charges against Sklyarov dropped

Related Stories

Sklyarov freed on Bail
Adobe DMCA protests spread to UK
Adobe Folds!
Boycott Adobe campaign launches
eBook security debunker arrested by Feds
DoJ sticks its nose in 2600.com DeCSS appeal
DeCSS arguments invoke free speech
There's no going back after CPRM, warns Schneier

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.