U.S. Department of Justice - CyberCrime.gov Archived

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Cases (DMCA) - U.S. v. Sklyarov (N.D. Cal.) (First DMCA Case)

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of California
11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue,
Box 36055
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234

Russian Man Charged in California under Digital Millennium Copyright Act with Circumventing Adobe eBook Reader

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced that Dmitry Sklyarov, of Moscow, Russia, made an initial appearance yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a complaint from the Northern District of California charging a single count of trafficking in a product designed to circumvent copyright protection measures in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 1201(b)(1)(A). This is one of the first prosecutions in the United States under this statute, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA").

According to an affidavit filed by an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with the criminal complaint, Mr. Sklyarov is alleged to have been the author of a program, "Advanced eBook Processor," that unlocked the "eBook Reader" produced by Adobe Systems, Inc. Consumers can download eBook Reader onto their personal computers in order to purchase electronic books in the eBook format from on-line booksellers such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. The eBook Reader permits consumers to read the encrypted eBook only on the specific computer utilized to engage in the transaction. Because the book is sold in encrypted form and is only accessible through the eBook Reader, the copyright holder’s interest in the book is protected.

According to the affidavit, the Advanced eBook Processor permitted users of the program to decrypt an eBook in a manner such that the eBook could be opened in any Portable Document Format ("PDF") viewer such as Adobe Acrobat reader, and the file would have no restrictions on editing, copying and printing the eBook. The affidavit states that the Advanced eBook Processor would allow anyone to read the eBook on any computer without paying the fee to the bookseller. The affidavit alleges that the program itself lists Mr. Sklyarov as the copyright holder of the Advanced eBook Processor, and that the program was distributed by ElcomSoft Company, Ltd. of Moscow, Russia, through its website.

The website for the "Defcon-9" conference in Las Vegas, Nevada states that Mr. Sklyarov was scheduled to speak at the Defcon-9 conference, scheduled for July 13-15. The Defcon-9 conference website describes the conference as "an annual computer underground party for hackers in Las Vegas," and it states that Mr. Sklyarov’s speech would include "security aspects of electronic books and documents."

The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 1201(b)(1)(A) is five years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. A complaint simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Sklyarov must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

Mr. Sklyarov made his initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas today, July 16, 2001. Mr. Sklyarov was detained without bail and ordered removed to the Northern District of California. No dates have been set for the defendants next appearance.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Scott Frewing and Joseph Sullivan are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lauri Gomez.

A copy of this press release and key court documents filed in the case may also be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/can/.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415)436-7181.

>> Return to the DOJ CyberCrime DMCA Index Page

>> Return to the DOJ CyberCrime Index Page