Libertarian Party of San Francisco Media Release


8 August 2001

Contact: Christopher R. Maden
Telephone: +1.415.845.8202

San Francisco, August 8, 2001 - The Libertarian Party of San Francisco joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Adobe Systems Inc. in calling for the end of criminal proceedings against Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov.

Sklyarov was arrested in Las Vegas on July 16 for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), based on a complaint filed by Adobe. Adobe has dropped the complaint and called for Sklyarov's release, but the US Attorney's Office is continuing the prosecution nonetheless. Sklyarov is currently free on $50,000 bail pending trial.

"This case demonstrates the immediate dangers of big government," said Christopher Maden, a San Francisco Libertarian and professional ebook consultant. "When the government is permitted to pass restrictive, unconstitutional laws like the DMCA, it's natural, and even rational, for companies like Adobe to use them to their best advantage."

"What we have here is a modern retelling of the Emperor's New Clothes. Unlike the Hans Christian Andersen fable, when the little Russian boy tells the world that the Emperor has no clothes, the Imperial Guard beheads the kid before anyone else can hear," said Robert Hansen, a Libertarian and cryptanalyst. He points out that public exposure is the best way to build secure computer systems; however, the DMCA discourages researchers from publishing their analyses, despite a research exemption in the law. "In order to protect these anemic security mechanisms, businesses and governments will rely on the brute power of the courts to keep those who understand from sharing their knowledge."

Maden called Adobe's tactics "bullying by government proxy," saying, "Adobe knew that a civil action was more appropriate, but as their general counsel told National Public Radio with a laugh, 'Honestly, we didn't think the likelihood was terribly high of getting any money out of a Russian company' - so they put a man in jail. The effort backfired and they dropped the complaint, but the Department of Justice wants to show it's tough on 'cybercrime,' and who better to demonstrate on than a scary 'Russian hacker'?"

Sklyarov is a 26-year old Ph.D. candidate at the prestigious Bauman Moscow State Technical University. He is married with two children, a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter. He is charged with "trafficking in forbidden technology," as Maden put it in an article in the LPSF's newsletter, for creating the algorithms in Elcom's Advanced eBook Processor.

Maden wrote, "There are several important reasons to set him free:

"1) He is charged with trafficking in forbidden technology. He did not sell the program; his employer did. Although three ElcomSoft employees were at the conference, including the president, it was Sklyarov who was arrested. It seems obvious that an example is being made of him.

"2) The DMCA specifically allows for narrow fair use exemptions from the civil and criminal violations it defines. AEBPR will only unlock a book legitimately purchased by the user; it can not be used to steal others' books. It is thus probable that the program does not even violate the law.

"3) The DMCA is a very bad law. It has a demonstrably chilling effect on speech... AEBPR is a tool with legitimate and illegal uses, like a lockpick, a crowbar, a car, and a gun. Outlawing the tool does not help."

Copyrights were created to encourage authors to publish their work. The legal doctrine of "fair use" says that, copyright notwithstanding, freedom of speech gives people the right to use copyrighted work in parody, satire, and criticism. The DMCA lets publishers take those rights away with technology, and outlaws other technology that would restore those rights. "Now we have the ironic situation of a Russian martyr to freedom trapped in America, thousands of miles from his family, for helping people to read," said Maden.

About LPSF:

The Libertarian Party of San Francisco ( is the local affiliate of the Libertarian Party (, the largest "third party" in the United States. Libertarians believe in personal freedom, in both social and economic spheres, and in minimal government to protect those freedoms.

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