Press Release - London and Edinburgh Sklyarov Protests 30 August (fwd)

Caspar Bowden cb at
Tue Aug 28 21:17:42 EDT 2001


-----Original Message-----
From: jtjm at [mailto:jtjm at] On Behalf Of Julian
T. J. Midgley
Subject: Press Release - London and Edinburgh Protests 30 August (fwd)

Purely for information:

August 28, 2001

Press Contact: Julian T. J. Midgley <jtjm at>
               Phone: +44 7713 166000


Cambridge, England -

Peaceful protesters from the Campaign for Digital Rights will gather
again outside the US Embassy in London at 1330 on Thursday, 30 August,
to demand that the charges against Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov be
dropped, and the DMCA (the law under which he is charged) revised or
repealed.  A simultaneous event will take place in Edinburgh.  All are
welcome. Details of both protests are available at:

These protests reflect international outrage at Dmitry's arrest- similar
protests will be held on the same day in Russia in Moscow, and in the
USA in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Black Rock City and
Reno.  (See for details).


Dmitry Sklyarov's arrest on July 16, for a violation of the Digital
Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), has chilled academic research into
cryptography on both sides of the Atlantic, and led UK academics and
programmers to call for conferences to be held outside the USA so that
they can attend them without fear of lawsuits or arrest. Alan Cox, the
prominent Linux kernel programmer, has resigned from the committee of
USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association, since he no longer
feels able to attend USENIX events in the USA for fear of prosecution
under the DMCA for his work on the Linux kernel.  Similar fears prompted
Dutch Cryptographer Niels Ferguson to decide not to publish an academic
paper describing security weaknesses in a content protection mechanism.
In the United States, a Professor Felten was threatened with legal
action under the DMCA if he published a paper describing flaws in a
digital watermarking scheme.

Dmitry himself will be arraigned on the 30th in San Jose, and faces a
fine of up to $500,000 and up to five years imprisonment if he is found
guilty; this for writing a program that, at the very worst, is nothing
more than a digital crowbar, with perfectly legitimate uses. He is not
charged with copyright infringement, nor has any copyright infringement
been attributed to the users of the program, distributed by Elcomsoft, a
Russian software company.  Adobe Systems Inc, the company which sells
the eBook software at which Dmitry's program was targetted, and which
filed the original complaint with the FBI, has since joined the
Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for the charges against Dmitry
to be dropped.  Nevertheless, the case proceeds, being seen by the
recording and publishing industries as an important test case for the
new law, and by programmers, academics, librarians and many others
worldwide as a dangerous threat to traditional freedoms.

With foreign nationals being arrested for reverse engineering software
programs, and academics being gagged by threats from publishing
companies, the United States of America is no longer "The Land of the

Traditionally, those of us in Europe would sit back smugly at this point
and laugh quietly at yet another ridiculous piece of American
legislation that doesn't affect us.  This time, we can afford to do no
such thing.  Not only does the DMCA itself stretch its tentacles across
the Atlantic to silence our academics and still the fingers of our
programmers, but, in less than 16 months, the European Copyright
Directive (the EUCD) will be enacted in the EU member states, with near
identical provisions forbidding the circumvention of "copy protection

The Campaign for Digital Rights

The UK Campaign for Digital Rights has formed to ensure that by the time
that the EUCD is passed into law, it has been revised to the extent that
it no longer threatens academic research or the public's ability to make
fair use of electronic books, music and videos.

It is important to stress that we respect absolutely the principal of
copyright; many of our members are programmers and authors whose works
enjoy the traditional protections of copyright - we do not condone
copyright infringement in any form.  However, we firmly believe that by
making the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms a crime, laws
such as the DMCA and EUCD threaten legitimate academic research and the
work of respectable computer programmers.  Furthermore, by effectively
prohibiting discussion of the weaknesses of particular copy protection
schemes, these laws practically guarantee that copy protection
mechanisms will be weak and easily broken, to the detriment of the very
authors and musicians whose work they are designed to protect.

The Campaign for Digital Rights is working together with industry,
academics, the Foundation for Information Policy Research
(, and similar organisations throughout Europe and
America.  For more information, mailing lists, et al, see:

Julian T. J. Midgley            
Cambridge, England.                          PGP Key ID: 0xBCC7863F
Beware the European Copyright Directive:

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