DMCA takes another blow

Critics of a controversial U.S. copyright law applauded a jury's decision Tuesday to acquit a Russian software firm charged with creating an illegal encryption-disabling program. The verdict, they say, will make prosecutors more reluctant to pursue similar cases.

The acquittal, announced in federal district court in San Jose, California, brought to a close the first federal criminal trial of a company accused of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The defendant, Moscow company ElcomSoft, was accused of violating provisions of the 1998 statute that prohibits companies from creating and selling technologies that circumvent protections placed on copyrighted works

By exonerating ElcomSoft DMCA critics say the jury showed an unwillingness to convict a company merely for creating a program that others might use to commit acts of copyright infringement.

"The chief problem with the government's case was that these guys weren't pirates," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation which provided legal assistance to ElcomSoft.

"I think it was hard for the jury to believe that these people should be treated as criminals simply for creating a tool," von Lohmann said.

News source: Wired

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