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Free Dimitri

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #2 of 10
OK, I've obviously started turning Lisamarie into a net geekette if she's posting links to anti-DMCA sites. I'd mentioned to her that there's a protest here in Boston this week (Thurs Noon, Boston Public Library) against the prosecution of programmer Dmitri Skylarov under this unconstitutional, anti-free-speech, anti-fair-use law. She found this link and wanted to post it.

I'm curious, with the many ski book authors here, what is your take on this? My feeling is that if there are non-infringing uses of a technology, such as the Adobe EBook reader software his company created, the Feds have no business prosecuting. What about the "Fair Use" that allows educational use quotes? Or that allows you to photocopy a few pages of a travel book you own, leave the book on your shelf, and take just the pages you need for your trip with you?

How about a person who owns Bob's book, or Todd's, or (equal time) Harald's, wants to copy a few pages to take with her to the slopes for reference. Note this is from her own copy of the book, not somebody distributing copies of it. Under current copyright law, and centuries of common usage, that's perfectly legal.

Jump ahead to current technology, and why couldn't somebody load the relevant pages of the book into their EBook reader, or translate it to a Palm or WinCE document format, or load it onto their laptop which they took back to the lodge? Under DMCA that's illegal if it's in electronic form. Even though the copyright law Fair Use concepts still allow you to make a copy of your purchased material for your own use, the DMCA makes it illegal for anyone to make software that allows you to make your legal copy.

And now it's not just civil penalties - but criminal! This poor geek Dmitry is now facing up to 25 years, just because his company made this software and he came to the US to speak about it at a conference.

The irony of the so-called "land of the free" throwing someone in jail for helping distribute speech is astonishing. Meanwhile I'm sure that neither Bushie nor anyone in Congress has a clue that this is a restriction of freedom. All they know is that the Microsoft-GE, Viacom-CBS, AOL-Time Warner, Disney-ABC consortiums (most if not all who own publishing companies, movie studios, and record labels) have contributed big bucks to their campaigns and said "Hey boys, do something to stop all this 'theft' - there's this bill we'd like you to pass and enforce."

BTW, note that I work for a Wall Street company. I'm a firm believer in capitalism, not a leftist. But this is capitalism run rampant IMHO, trampling over rights as these multinational information oligopolies try to control every avenue of information and put tolls on every reading/viewing of it. And if this type of unconstitutional stuff can get passed, who knows what else can.

What do you think? If you're an author, is this actually a good thing? Do you think your Intellectual Property rights are being protected by this? Or are your IP rights actually being restricted by the publishing oligopoly, by making your work less useful and more expensive to your target audience?

If you're an academic (hi Lisakaz), how do you feel about the restrictions on research and publication of scientific studies of encryption, such as the recent Felten case where an academic was afraid to publish a paper for fear of getting prosecuted by the copyright cops? Is this America?

And if you're from elsewhere - please don't let this nonsense happen in your countries!

</soapbox mode ><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by MarkXS (edited August 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 10
Well as it's been awhile since I have made one of my profound comments, I thouhgt I'd ask why you guys have conversations with each other here and type everything out when you live together? I mean come on, just walk upstairs.
post #4 of 10
It's because you weren't here to talk to us, g-dubs

Seriously, my point was to explain to those who might care (or who IMHO should care), what Lisa's otherwise obscure "free Dmitri" post was about. And a less-than-successful attempt to make it vaguely ski-related.

Otherwise people could have thought she was talking about some old Eastern-bloc boyfriend or some other creative possibility.

You're pretty wired, dubs. You heard much at all about this? Any uproar in the hallways about this nonsense? I'm quite angry about it - probably taking a long lunch tomorrow to go to the protest.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Besides, its fun to practice our Spencer/Hepburn routine!
post #6 of 10
Well, I think copyright protections can certainly go too far, as in the case of "The Wind Done Gone".

Acadmics aren't terribly protectionist unless they're scientists who might actually have commerical gain to obtain. As a class instructor, I'm always thinking about how to get materials to my students cheaply. Think of the whole problem/issue with Kinkos and making course packets. Then there's the web. We want students to have the ability to get everything we want them to see (they have enough motivation problems about reading to not add additional ones).

Then there's my own work. Considering I didn't get paid for a journal to publish me, how am I supposed to protect my work -- and from whom? A lot of faculty want to put materials on the web as a self-publishing thing, esp. if they're not paying for the web page (which I don't do).

So the academics from only a few fields are woried about patents, copyrights and owning their work. Certainly, I don't want someone else taking credit for my dissertation's thesis, but since it's still in my head, how the heck is anyone going to get to it? Even when it's on paper, the only poachers would be other academics and I pretty much believe that there isn't anyone out there who is capable of credibly stealing my work. I think its companies who try to own the products of their employees who care the most about these things, for their own greed. Too bad too few are greedy for knowledge but that's a fact so no worries where I'm concerned.


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cerchio dell'inferno!
post #7 of 10
Yes, the The Wind Done Gone case was also Rights Done Gone. Isn't parody supposed to be one of the Fair Use rights? And considering it was also social commentary on the milieu of Gone with the Wind, it's pretty outrageous they restrained publication based on copyright.

Part of the "slippery slope" of loss of rights. First Amendment's going fast, folks.
post #8 of 10
Yes, the estate of Margaret Mitchell was more concerned that the reputation of the book, and thus their wallets, then any legitimate concern for "copyright." The book isn't strictly a parody either (maybe that was the problem; judges don't know spit about literature). It's using a different character's perspective; it's a departure from the text or an "alternative" voice, which of course was silenced.

I wonder if the estate would have shut up if the publishers of this book had ponied up enough money. Also, I wonder if the copyright holders missed a chance to have GWTW remarketed or something. They must have felt threatened by this new book and I think that goes to the heart of the critique of the Myth of the Heroic South perpetuated by the book. Seems to me on some level this is a truth they had to repress.

post #9 of 10
More info at http://freesklyarov.org/, and an ongoing discussion at Slashdot.

Also there is now a defense fund:

Information from Elcomsoft's release at http://www.elcomsoft.com/statement0829.html, also available at http://www.planetebook.com/mainpage.asp?webpageid=219:
Alexander Katalov also pointed out that in response to numerous inquiries, a defense fund has been established. Those interested in contributing to Sklyarov's defense fund should make donations by wire to:

First Union National Bank
Philadelphia, PA
ABA #031201467
Account #: 2000104359781
Account Name: Duane, Morris & Heckscher LLP Escrow Account

Contributors MUST reference "The Dmitri Defense Fund - R0247-2" on all incoming wires.

Donations by Check should be sent to the following address:

The Dmitri Defense Fund
c/o Duane, Morris & Heckscher LLP
100 Spear Street, Suite 1500
San Francisco, California 94105

Checks must be payable to "DMH Escrow Agent for Dmitri Defense Fund."
Mark's note: Dmitry is actually spelled in English with an ending Y, but the Defense Fund's official name spells it with an ending "I" same as in this thread. I checked a few different sites, including Elcomsoft.com itself, to try to verify this was really Dmitry's defense fund before posting it.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by MarkXS (edited August 31, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 10
When I caught an eastern bloc associate passing answers to his seatmate while conducting an exam audit, his response...

"Mr., I was not cheating, I was helping my friend".

There are some cultural differences that we should not be (PC) sensitive or reactive to.

lizakaz: When your own Rutgers used to administer these exams, I slept easy. Since they have been "privatized" it's been anything goes.... <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by yuki (edited September 08, 2001).]</FONT>
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