After a day of worldwide protest, Adobe Monday called for the release of jailed Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov in a press release issued jointly with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Sklyarov was arrested for alleged criminal violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the same law that 2600 Magazine is being sued under for the distribution of DeCSS. Sklyarov's company, ElcomSoft, manufactures a product which can be used to bypass the "Digital Rights Management" scheme in Adobe's e-book Reader. Their product has been used by the blind to bypass the prohibitions on text-to-speech software that some publishers have placed on their e-books. Although this software is legal in Russia, where it was written, Sklyarov was arrested when he came to the US to give a talk at the Defcon conference in mid-July.
Adobe's announcement came after a day of protests in more than a dozen cities across the country. The largest protest was held at Adobe's corporate headquarters in San Jose, CA, where approximately 100 demonstrators chanted and picketed for almost four hours while EFF negotiators met with Adobe representatives inside. Curious Adobe employees watched and took pictures from within the building, but none could be convinced to come outside and join the protest.
In Boston, 50 protestors dressed in black and held a "Funeral for Fair Use Rights" complete with coffin. In New York, 30 people demonstrated outside the New York Public Library, which happens to be across the street from Adobe's New York office. Protests were also held in Los Angeles, St. Paul, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, Reno, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Denver.
However, despite the day's successes, there is still more work to be done. Sklyarov is still being held in an unknown location, and, because this is a criminal trial, only the Department of Justice can drop the charges. For this reason, organizers are now shifting the campaign to focus on Robert Mueller, the US Attorney for the Northern District of California, who has the final authority to drop the charges against Sklyarov and is also President Bush's nominee to head the FBI.
More protests are planned around the world until Sklyarov is released. Even then, the only way to prevent similar cases from being brought in the future is to fight the DMCA itself and reinstate the right to fair use.
For further information and updates, see Boycott Adobe, Free Sklyarov, or the EFF.