ElcomSoft attacks DMCA in Sklyarov test case

Vague, overly broad, misapplied

ElcomSoft, the employer of freed Russian software developer Dmitry Sklyarov, will attack the entire basis of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when its case comes to trial.

The Russian firm will seek to establish that the DMCA is vague, overly broad and was misapplied in its case, according to motions filed by ElcomSoft's lead attorney, Joseph Burton, InfoWorld reports. The arguments are made in a series of motions filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Sklyarov was arrested and slung into jail in July following a court case instigated by Adobe. The California software company pulled the legal trigger in response to a presentation made by the Russian programmer pointing out the shortcomings of eBook security at last year's Defcon conference in Las Vegas. He faced charges punishable by up to 25 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Adobe attracted huge opprobrium for its actions, and in the face of a self-inflicted public relations nightmare, quickly withdrew support for prosecution. However, the Department of Justice took up the reins and even though Sklyarov was released on bail of $50,000 in August, he still had to remain in the US.

A legal agreement made in December "deferred" the prosecution against Sklyarov and allowed him to return home, on condition that he return to the US to testify in the case that remains against ElcomSoft. Legal experts believe the deal should eventually clear Sklyarov of charges brought against him for distributing Advance eBook Processor, an app which busts the access controls on Adobe's eBook reader.

The case against ElcomSoft and Sklyarov became a cause celebre among white hat hackers, who objected to jailing a programmer simply for coding and distributing software. There were also concerns that, at the behest of the entertainment industry, the DMCA was being applied in a way which would stymie legitimate security research.

ElcomSoft is expected to file a further set of motions in the case before its scheduled appearance in the San Jose court on March 4, Infoworld reports. ®

External links

Intellectual Property: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): "US v. Sklyarov" Archive
US v. ElcomSoft - motion to dismiss

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