The law under which Dmitry is charged, the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is again proving harmful to civil liberties and software development.
Dmitry, a Ph.D. candidate and father of two small children, wrote software for his employer, ElcomSoft. ElcomSoft's program makes it possible for legitimate users to make fair use of e-books, and could make it possible for visually impaired users to use them with Braille terminals and text-to-speech software. Dmitry is a Russian citizen whose actions are perfectly legal in his home country. He has committed no crime.
This case is not about copyright infringement. Dmitry has not been charged with making any illegal copies. His work simply allows the legitimate purchaser of an e-book to translate it from one digital format into another.
Dmitry was arrested after presenting his findings at a conference in Las Vegas. The FBI should not be using our tax dollars to persecute law-abiding citizens of other countries who visit the USA to participate in conferences.
"The U.S. government for the first time is prosecuting a programmer for building a tool that may be used for many purposes, including those that legitimate purchasers need in order to exercise their fair use rights."
-- Robin Gross, Electronic Frontier Foundation
"Researchers and scholars have long faulted the anti-circumvention provision. They say it hinders scientists' ability to study security flaws in computer software. They also argue that the D.M.C.A. dissuades educators from excerpting passages from scholarly works for classroom instruction."
"In this case, readers' interests should be paramount, and the leading e-book formats -- Adobe's among them -- slight them by making it impossible to open an e-book when upgrading to a new computer or when suffering a number of all-too-common computer woes, such as virus infection and hard-disk failure."