The long-awaited live testimony of Dmitry Sklyarov finally got under way in the ElcomSoft trial Monday afternoon, when the Russian programmer took the stand for the defense.
ElcomSoft, a software company based in Russia, is charged with five counts of offering and marketing software designed to crack Adobe's eBooks, actions prosecutors say violate digital copyright laws.
Sklyarov, whose arrest in July 2001 prompted the current case against his employer, was expected to be called as a government witness. Sklyarov was jailed after giving a speech about his company's software, but prosecutors later set aside charges against him in exchange for his testimony in the case against ElcomSoft. Instead of calling him to the stand during the trial, however, government lawyers played an edited
videotape of Sklyarov's deposition and would not comment on their decision.
The trial is the first major test of the criminal provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which outlaw offering software that can be used to crack copyright protection. The case also raises questions about how much control a publisher should have over its products after they've been purchased by a consumer.
Because digital material is so easy to copy and distribute, copyright holders have sought unprecedented controls over their work, ranging from technical measures that prevent replicating and printing to laws such as the DMCA. However, many programmers fear such crackdowns could discourage technical development and research if engineers fear becoming the target of criminal suits.
News source: c|net