Amy Alexander on Wed, 18 Jul 2001 19:24:25 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> DMCA

On Tue, 17 Jul 2001, Nick Moffitt wrote:

> In case you haven't heard, a Russian programmer was just arrested in
> Las Vegas for writing software that could decrypt arbitrary PDF data.

His employer, elcomsoft, for whom he apparently wrote the decryption
software, has posted their side of the story at:

The page is a mixed bag - sprinkled in with elcomsoft's account of their
motives, Adobe's motives, and the history of the case are statements like
"Dmitry Sklyarov, the author of Advanced eBook Processor and DefCon
speaker, has been arrested by FBI; the reason is an Adobe's complaint. If
you want to help him to get out of jail, please purchase Advanced PDF
Password Recovery, another program Dmitry has developed."

Later they indicate that their software is intended for the use of non-US
residents, for whom DMCA decryption restrictions would not apply.

In any case, what's interesting about cases like this and DeCSS (other
famous corporate-directed DMCA case) are that:

a) Foreign programmer somehow gets arrested for what would normally appear
to be a civil matter (possible copyright infringement). Thereby, a
chilling example is set for the world....

b) What is depicted as the behavior of rogue, malicious crackers
(i.e. finding security holes and publishing the holes and their exploits),
is pretty much the way the software security community generally gets things

Usually, in the "whitehat" security community, finding and posting
exploits is not done for monetary profit, but occasionally, an exploit
turns into a commercial product. For example, NetBus started out as a
remote Windows cracking tool, but was later marketed as remote
administration software.

This doesn't seem to me so much different than what Sklyarov and elcomsoft
did, except that the mighty DMCA wasn't involved.

> This is due, of course, to the DMCA, which makes it illegal to create
> devices that circumvent copy protection on copyrighted works.  Never
> before has US Copyright law been so draconian.

Yes, effectively, it seems it's now a crime to possibly help
people make copies that *could* infringe copyright but it's not a crime to
possibly help people break into other people's computers. (I Am Not A

> The press needs to be trained to paint the DMCA for what it is.

Yeah that'd be nice...

Recontextualizing script-kiddyism as net-art for over 1/20 of a century.

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