DMCA Loses Round 1

by Derrick Story

A jury of four women and eight men decided that ElcomSoft had never intended to break the law by producing software that allowed users to make copies of electronic books and have them read aloud to the blind. This case caught the public's attention when ElcomSoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested in July 2001 after a talk at a conference in Las Vegas.

"Today's jury verdict sends a strong message to federal prosecutors who believe that tool makers should be thrown in jail just because a copyright owner doesn't like the tools," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to protect civil liberties in cyberspace.

This is clearly a blow to the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, since the ElcomSoft case was the first time the U.S. Federal Government has attempted to enforce the law.

For more reading on this case:

Russian Firm Cleared in US Digital Copyright Trial, Reuters

Russian firm acquitted in digital copyright case, San Jose Mercury News

Russian Software Firm found Innocent, Associated Press

Verdict Seen as Blow to DMCA, Wired News