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Despite what leaders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation called “a productive discussion” Friday morning, the U.S. Attorney’s Office appears poised to proceed with the prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov in a case that could test the constitutionality of digital copyright laws. “We did most of the talking,” EFF counsel Robin Gross said in an interview. “The U.S. Attorney didn’t really give away much about what they were thinking.” “The people from the U.S. Attorney’s Office heard our concerns and asked probing questions about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. “However, they did not give any indication of their plans for Dmitry, so we encourage everyone to keep up the pressure and join the protests.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Jacobs, a spokesman for the agency’s Northern District of California office, declined to comment on the meeting. Sklyarov, a 27-year-old father of two, has become a cause celebre since his arrest July 16 after he presented an academic paper on e-book security at the Def Con hackers’ convention in Las Vegas. An international “Free Dmitry” movement has blossomed on the Web among supporters who see him as a martyr of the unjust prosecution of what they consider to be a badly conceived law. If convicted, Sklyarov could face up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The EFF, a civil rights organization, considers the law unconstitutionally broad — outlawing not just certain behavior, but the creation of technology. Even supporters of the DMCA, Gross argues, should see that Sklyarov’s employer, ElcomSoft in Moscow, would be a more legitimate target for prosecution. “He’s nothing more than a programmer, just an employee.” EFF leaders met with federal prosecutors in hope of repeating the success they had Monday in a four-hour discussion with executives of Adobe Systems. It was Adobe’s complaints that prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to arrest Sklyarov. But amid growing protests, Adobe issued a statement with the EFF on Monday calling for Sklyarov’s release and withdrawing support for criminal charges. Adobe executives say they still support the DMCA and note that ElcomSoft has stopped marketing the offending software since the programmer’s arrest. “This is a case where the FBI is being used to squelch Adobe’s competition,” Gross declared. “The DMCA is written in such a way that it can be used as a tool to smash competition and control distribution models, and squelch speech that’s critical of the copyright holders.” The case also underscores the complications of sovereign nations trying to police the borderless Internet. In the discussion, Gross says, EFF representatives pointed out the similarities between the Skylarov case and that of Gao Zhan, the American scholar whom Chinese officials had arrested in February during a family vacation and released only this week. “Dmitry was writing software in Russia that is perfectly legal in Russia. Sounds a lot like these folks who are arrested in China for perfectly legal activities in the United States.” Legal experts say that Sklyarov, as a foreign national, would be considered a flight risk and is unlikely to be granted bail. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: In Digital Music, First You Must Eat Your Rivals Hack Attack Targets Verizon, AT&T Wireless Customers Companies Defend Privacy Practices Before Congress Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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