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Russian Firm Cleared in US Digital Copyright Trial
Posted on Tuesday, December 17 @ 14:57:19 GMT by Beldurin
In the News Anonymous writes:
SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) - A Federal Court jury on Tuesday found a Russian company not guilty of criminal charges that it violated U.S. copyright law by selling a software program that can crack the digital locks used to secure electronic books.

Moscow-based ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. was charged in federal court of violating the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (news - web sites) by selling a program that circumvents the digital copyright protections on Adobe Systems Inc. (NasdaqNM:ADBE - news) software.

The two-week trial in San Jose, California was the first criminal prosecution under the controversial DMCA, which prohibits the sale of technology used to break the digital locks on digitally formatted movies, music and other software.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for about two days before reaching the verdict on Tuesday. The trial had hinged on whether ElcomSoft had "willfully" violated the U.S. law, lawyers for the defense said.

"They never intended to violate the law," said defense attorney Joseph Burton of the San Francisco law firm of Duane Morris.

more inside

"We accept the jury's verdict," Kevin Ryan, U.S. Attorney for Northern California, said in a statement. "While disappointed, we are also pleased that the judge upheld the constitutionality of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the jurisdiction of the United States to bring these cases."

ElcomSoft's program, which sold online for about a month in mid-2001 for $99 before Adobe complained, allows users to make copies of electronic books, transfer them to laptops and have the computer read them aloud to the blind.

Prosecutors contended the program was akin to a burglar tool that could be used to make illegal copies of electronic books.


ElcomSoft President Alexander Katalov testified that he did not think the program, which was legal in Russia, was illegal in the United States. He said the program was not meant to be used for electronic books that had not been legally purchased.

Observers on both sides of the DMCA debate said they were pleased that the case was finally resolved.

"Today's jury verdict sends a strong message to federal prosecutors who believe that tool makers should be thrown in jail just because a copyright owner doesn't like the tools," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to protect civil liberties in cyberspace.

"Although the jury decided the Digital Millennium Copyright Act had not in this case been violated, we are glad that prosecutors do believe that such cases have an appropriate place in our criminal justice system," said Robert Holleyman, chief executive of the Business Software Alliance trade group.

The case caused an international uproar after ElcomSoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested in July 2001 following a talk he gave about the program at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas.

Prosecutors agreed to drop charges against him in exchange for his testimony. His videotaped deposition was played in court by the prosecution and he was questioned in person in court by the defense.

Copyright holders pushed for the DMCA, arguing that they need it to prevent easy piracy in the digital age. Opponents say the law gives copyright owners more rights in cyberspace than they have elsewhere.

Source: Yahoo News
This really is a landmark case, since the DMCA hadn't previously been officially challenged in a non-us courtroom.
Copyright holders in the United States cannot expect their US Gov't issued "copyright" to be enforced in another country. This could be interesting.

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