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Home » Hacking News » Russia Computer Programmer Posts Bail

Russia Computer Programmer Posts Bail

by ivy on August 7th, 2001 SAN JOSE, Calif. — A Russian computer programmer charged with distributing a program to crack encrypted software was released on $50,000 bond Monday and ordered to stay in Northern California while he awaits trial.

With dozens of protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse, Dmitry Sklyarov made his first court appearance in San Jose since being arrested July 16 and charged with violating the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Sklyarov, 26, is thought to be one of the first people to face criminal prosecution under the act, and his case has generated international protests.

An interpreter explained the procedures to Sklyarov, who speaks halting English. Prosecutors and defense attorney Joseph Burton agreed on the bond conditions.

The bond is being paid for by Sklyarov's company, and he has been turned over to the custody of a Russian-American software engineer who lives in Cupertino.

The case concerns Adobe Systems' eBook Reader, software that lets publishers impose strong restrictions on the use of books they sell online. While working for Elcomsoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow, Sklyarov came up with ways around those restrictions — so electronic books could be transferred from one computer to another or used in text-to-speech programs, for example.

Such programs are legal in Russia but banned under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Adobe complained to the FBI, and agents arrested Sklyarov in Las Vegas, where he had traveled to speak at a computer security convention.

Sklyarov's supporters say there is no evidence anyone has used his program to violate copyrights on electronic books. Adobe dropped its support of the case on July 23.

Sklyarov could face five years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.

Protesters outside the court cheered Sklyarov's release but said the entire case should be dropped.

"How do we enforce American law on Russians when what he did is legal in Russia?'' said Marc Perkel, a systems administrator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group backing Sklyarov. "If an Adobe employee was arrested in Russia ... we would be on nuclear alert.''

from The Associated Press

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