Battle for the Heart of the Internet

Posted 5 Aug 2001 at 18:50 UTC by MisterBad Share This

The last three weeks has seen an incredible outpouring of anger and resistance against the unjust arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov. August and September will see even more activity as the movement to Free Dmitry continues to build up force.

Dmitry Sklyarov is a Russian Ph.D. student researching security and copy protection in electronic book formats like Adobe's eBook and encrypted PDF. He was arrested by the FBI on July 16th in Las Vegas at the behest of Adobe for alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). His purported crime? Adapting his academic research to a commercial product, the Advanced eBook Processor (AEBPR), that allows legitimate eBook purchasers to exercise their fair use rights, like backing up electronic books or using them on an alternative operating system.

Media attention has been high -- ranging from local TV news to radical Pacifica Radio to editorials in the New York Times. Protests and demonstrations have been heavily attended. Mailing lists, hacker culture Web sites, newsgroups and private mail are humming with discussions of Dmitry's continued incarceration and ways to get him free.

Why has Dmitry's arrest aroused the attention of so many hackers? For one thing, programmers and other tech professionals see it as a threat to their livelihood and safety. Which one of us could be next? What do I do for my company that could put me in jail? For another, the implications for free speech, academic freedom, and fair use are staggering.

But I think the key reason that Dmitry's arrest is causing so much heat is that it marks a watershed in the history of the online world. If the people who built and developed the Internet let bought-and-paid-for corporate law like the DMCA put programmers in jail, we will have lost control of this medium. The things we love about computer communications will rapidly be lost, and the Internet Mall -- with its thuggish security guards and vapid monoculture -- will become the only Net in the world.

If you're interested in helping to stop this injustice and let the Real World know that hackers will fight for what's right, there are a number of upcoming events that need your meatspace attendance and support. Here's an important and growing list for the month of August. More details and local event info can be found on the Free Sklyarov Calendar.

  • Monday August 6: Bail Hearing. Supporters will demonstrate outside the bail hearing for Dmitry Sklyarov on Monday. Others will be inside the courtroom to show the court and prosecutor the level of interest the public has in this case. Events will also occur across the country to promote public awareness and express support.

  • Monday August 13: Candlelight March. In San Jose, a candlelight march will wend its way past the public library and through the city to the prison where Dmitry is held. Other events will be held in New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and many other cities.

  • Thursday August 16: Rally at Usenix. Usenix attendees will hold BOF sessions and a rally to bring attention to Dmitry's case.

  • Friday August 30: Linux World Expo March. Synchronized nationwide event. In San Francisco during the Linux World Expo, Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond, and other Free Software luminaries will lead a march from LWE at Moscone Center to the prosecutor's offices at the Burton Federal Building.

Future events will include teach-ins at universities as students come back to school in September, fund-raiser benefits for Dmitry's legal defense fund, and further stunts and demonstrations.

There's a lot to be done to get Dmitry Sklyarov free. Letters to congressional representatives, petition drives, declarations of support from civil liberties organizations, and continued media attention. But most of all, your feet, your face, your ideas and your presence are needed in RL.

Yes, you can make a difference, posted 5 Aug 2001 at 21:52 UTC by Ankh » (Master)

If you are a US Citizen, write to your representatives in government. you can make a difference

If you do not act, if Dmitry is imprisoned, if the DMCA is upheld in this case, when the defendant has no right of fere speech in the US, case law will be made, and next time it will be an American arrested, maybe someone reading this article today.

If (like me) you are not a US citizen, contact the local US consulate or embassy, or check to see if there is local legislation pending similar to the DMCA (as in Europe and Canada). Contact your MP, MPP or whatever.

This article mentions the proposed changes to Canadian copyright law (more details here) so don't think it doesn't matter outside the USA. The latter web page specifically says the law should be amended to prevent the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material . No, it should be amended to make clear that copy protection cannot and must not in any way infringe upon or supersede fair use provisions and rights of the purchaser to use the information.

All the best..., posted 6 Aug 2001 at 00:58 UTC by jono » (Master)

I have to confess to not knowing too much about the whole Dmitry thing other than it as caused a ruckus on pretty much every site I read.

Thanks for your kind introduction to the issue and I am pretty shocked. Firstly, I have respect for all copyright respect be it commercial of free software based.

It seems to me the extent of loss from this case is limited so they are really hanging a PR goose. As a KDE developer though, I am more than familier with Adobe getting annoyed at free software developers. ;-P

I hope the situation is resolved for all concerned. It seems amazing this guy is getting such a load of crap and this stupid internet worm is messing everyone over and we don't hear anything about the perpetrators of that.

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