Accused Copyright Hacker Gets Bail

Programmers and internet freedom activists march to the Phillip Burton Federal Building to protest the arrest of Russian computer programmer Dmitry Sklyarov Monday, July 30, 2001, in San Francisco. Sklyarov was jailed after developing software that allows the user to circumvent the copyright protections in Adobe Systems eBook reader program. AP

Russian software programmer Dimitry Sklyarov, whose July 16 arrest on copyright charges provoked a firestorm of debate over Internet free speech, was released on $50,000 bail Monday by a California court.

Sklyarov, 26, was released into the custody of Sergei Osokine of nearby Cupertino, Calif., after his Moscow-based company, ElcomSoft Co., put up the $50,000 bond, court officials said. He must remain in Northern California while he awaits trial.

Sklyarov, 26, is thought to be the first person to face criminal prosecution under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and his case has generated international protests.

Sklyarov wrote a program that allows people who purchase books in digital form and use Adobe Systems Inc.'s eBook Reader to make and transfer copies of the book - legal under Russian law, but a violation of the DMCA.

Adobe complained to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agents arrested Sklyarov in Las Vegas, where he had traveled to speak at a computer security convention.

An interpreter explained the procedures to Sklyarov, who speaks halting English. Prosecutors and defense attorney Joseph Burton agreed on the bond conditions.

The bond is being paid for by Sklyarov's company, and he has been turned over to the custody of a Russian-American software engineer who lives in Cupertino.

Sklyarov's supporters say there is no evidence anyone has used his program to violate copyrights on electronic books. Adobe dropped its support of the case July 23.

Sklyarov could face five years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.



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