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Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov told a jury this week that he didn’t really care whether he violated American law when he reverse engineered Adobe Systems Inc.’s software and wrote a program stripping encryption off the e-Book reader so users could print and copy electronic texts. “You don’t believe you are bound by the laws in the United States?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Frewing on cross-examination. “If it’s not in accordance with Russian law; Russian law has precedence,” Sklyarov replied. Sklyarov was one of three witnesses the defense called before resting its case in the first criminal trial testing the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Russian software company ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. is on trial for five counts of marketing and selling software that circumvents encryption protecting copyrighted work and conspiracy. No one faces jail time but the Moscow-based ElcomSoft could be fined more than $2 million if convicted. Monday, Sklyarov, who wrote the ElcomSoft program, the advanced e-Book processor, testified in defense of his employer. Sklyarov, 27, was initially indicted along with his employer in 2001 for violating the DMCA but later made a deal to testify for the prosecution in exchange for having charges against him dropped. But prosecutors, who were not able to interview Sklyarov days before trial, opted to use a videotaped deposition instead of live testimony. But ElcomSoft defense attorney Joseph Burton called Sklyarov as his first defense witness Monday. Sklyarov, speaking English, testified that he was both a programmer for ElcomSoft and an assistant professor at Moscow State Technical University, where he is earning his doctorate degree in information security. He said working for ElcomSoft complemented his studies because he was writing his dissertation on the effectiveness of electronic security and encryption. “It was also good for me. It automatically becomes a practical part of my dissertation work,” Sklyarov said. Sklyarov said he discovered that Adobe’s Acrobat reader and e-Book reader could easily be cracked. In late 2001, he wrote a password retrieval program for Acrobat r+eader, which ElcomSoft sold in January. According to earlier testimony, Adobe knew about the password program but did nothing about it. Sklyarov said he later essentially just repackaged the same code from the password product, which also unencrypted e-Books. ElcomSoft sold the product for 10 days in June 2001, which led to his arrest at a Las Vegas hacker conference and ElcomSoft’s indictment. Sklyarov said he developed the software to show that Adobe’s products were not secure. “Most [security] solutions I’ve seen are badly developed — absolutely not secure, or easily compromised,” he testified. “It’s not hard to make illegal copies. . . . The general public needs to know.” Sklyarov said e-Books prevented some legal uses — like backup copies or transfer to computers — but added, “if you remove protections there is no way to control how the book can be used.” Sklyarov said ElcomSoft chose to sell its processor for $99 to keep it from being mass circulated and hurting the publishing industry. Under cross-examination, Sklyarov agreed the product could be used to make multiple copies of books. “Technically, yes but it would be illegal. It would be your illegal action,” he said. “You cannot use the e-Book processor to distribute it. You have to distribute it by yourself.” Sklyarov also acknowledged that to make his product he examined the code of Adobe’s e-Book, violating its licensing agreement. “According to Russian law, I have the right to reverse engineer in Russia for compatibility purposes,” Sklyarov said. Burton followed up the prosecution’s question, asking, “Isn’t it true when you wrote this software you didn’t care if you violated the laws in the U.S.?” “Yes, that’s true,” Sklyarov said. “I didn’t care about that. I care about not violating the law of the country I worked in.”

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