Feeds

Sklyarov denied US visa to testify in DMCA case

Bizarre turn of events

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Dmitry Sklyarov, the Russian programmer at the centre of the first Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prosecution, has been denied a US visa in a move that jeopardises his requirement to testify in the forthcoming trial of his former employers, ElcomSoft.

ElcomSoft's chief executive, Alexander Katalov, has likewise been denied a visa, Planet PDF reports, in a move that surely means the already delayed October 21 start of the trial will be put back still further.

ElcomSoft is charged with supplying a tool that circumvents the copy protection in Adobe eBooks, which can be used in making audible copies of e-books for the blind, or copies of legitimately purchased electronic books. ElcomSoft's Advanced eBook Processor, which is legal in Russia, was sold over the Internet (though it has since been taken off the market).

Sklyarov was also indicted in the case, and spent a month in a US jail (and four months on bail) before striking a deal that allowed him to return to Russia in exchange for testifying in any case against ElcomSoft.

That agreement, thanks to the refusal of Sklyarov's visa is now in jeopardy, and he faces the Kafkaesque dilemma of been legally unable to enter the States to attend a trial he is legally obliged to testify in.

'Crime' and punishment

Sklyarov was arrested and slung into jail in July 2001 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.
Even though Sklyarov was released on bail of $50,000 in August, he still had to remain in the US until December, when a deal was made.

The case against ElcomSoft and Sklyarov has become a cause célèbre 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 applied in a way which would stymie legitimate security research and prevent 'fair use' of copyrighted material. Civil liberties groups, most notably the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Internet activists have also campaigned hard on Sklyarov's behalf. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.