Sklyarov hearing set for March 2002

The case of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, charged with violating copyright law by writing software that strips copy and use...

The case of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, charged with violating copyright law by writing software that strips copy and use restrictions out of Adobe Systems e-books, will be heard in March 2002.

The US District Court will hear Sklyarov's appeal against his indictment on the issue of US jurisdiction over the case, and another appeal that challenges the constitutionality of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), under which Sklyarov was originally charged.

Sklyarov, a Russian citizen, was arrested in July at the end of the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas, where he had given a presentation on e-book security.

He was charged with violating the DMCA, which makes it a crime to traffic in tools or information designed to circumvent copy control schemes for encrypted content.

Sklyarov is the author of Advanced eBook Processor, an application that strips copy and use restrictions out of Adobe Systems' e-books, and allows them to be printed, backed up and read aloud by a computer. These features are not enabled in the standard Adobe e-book.

While the DMCA makes such an act illegal in the US, the same activity is legal in Russia, where users are allowed to make backup copies of such material.

Though Sklyarov was arrested at the behest of Adobe, the company later changed its mind and called for his release. However, the office of the US Attorney for the Northern District of California decided to prosecute anyway. Adobe has denied any responsibility towards the 26-year-old programmer.

A conspiracy charge was added to the original count, meaning that if Sklyarov was convicted he could face up to 25 years in prison and a $2.25m (£1.5m) fine. He was released on $50,000 bail in early August.

Sklyarov's arrest sparked weeks of protests in dozens of cities around the world.

The DMCA, which is expected to be at the heart of Sklyarov's trial, was central to the De-Contents Scramble System (DeCSS) case, which tested the legality of posting code for descrambling DVDs on the Internet

The DMCA was also used by the recording and digital music industries to suppress the publication of a paper by a Princeton University professor about weaknesses in certain digital music protection plans.

Read more on IT legislation and regulation

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