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Linux Journal: Free Dmitry Sklyarov!

Jul 22, 2001, 15:00 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bryan Pfaffenberger)

Linux Journal goes to the root of the Sklyarov issue: the DMCA, saying the law "It facilitates corporate attacks on the free and open exchange of information that's needed to ensure continued US prominence in the technological arena.":

"Let's say you're having a nightmare. You're living in a dictatorship, a police state. The Leader's younger brother runs a State-owned factory that makes nails and screws. However, the State's engineers have been unable to figure out how to make nuts and bolts that, as fasteners go, are technically superior. To protect his younger sibling from nuts-and-bolts competition, The Leader announces a new Law that makes nuts and bolts illegal. Of course, this is stupidity writ large, because The Nation's economy needs nuts and bolts. But The Leader and his sibling could care less. They're out to enrich themselves, not the people.

A few nights later, you're watching the news. A visitor from a neighboring country--an employee of a foreign firm that makes nuts and bolts, which are perfectly legal in the neighboring country--is arrested and hauled off to jail. His crime? He attended a history convention in your country and gave a talk entitled, "Nuts and Bolts Down Through the Ages". A spokesman for The Leader tells the TV audience, "This criminal aided and abetted the manufacture of nuts and bolts in a foreign country, and he talked about how to make nuts and bolts during his visit here. Plus, we have evidence that his company has actually sold nuts and bolts right here, in Our Nation. All hail The Leader for stamping out this hideous menace." After a quick trial, the unfortunate visitor is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Terrifying dream, isn't it? But wake up, please. This nightmare just became reality. Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian computer programmer, attended the DEF CON convention in Las Vegas, Nevada and was arrested in a similar scenario. Sklyarov is an employee of ElcomSoft Co. Ltd., of Moscow, which publishes a program designed to defeat the encryption scheme used in Adobe's eBooks."

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