Re: Russian hacker nabbed by FBI now lost in federal prisonsystem

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 16:12:02 MDT

Harvey Newstrom wrote:

> As a side note, Adobe has no right to drop charges against Sklyarov. This
> is not a civil suit. It is a criminal case. The FBI/police/government
> decides on their prosecution strategy. The so-called victim (Adobe) has no
> rights. This is what allows the government to pursue victimless crimes
> where none of the participants wants the government to intervene, but they
> do anyway.

I disagree. Adobe claimed to have been wronged by its
encryption technique being broken. If Adobe no longer believes
it was so wronged or that the accused is the party that should
be prosecuted that should have some bearing.

> > If we have a beef with the company he works for in general then
> > we should take that up with the company instead of locking away
> > one of its employees on trumped up charges.
> The so-called beef is a law which makes it illegal to break encryption. It
> may be a bad law. However, as it is written, it is Sklyarov who broke the
> encryption. The company that employs him and distributes his program did
> not break this law.

There is no "may be" about it. Sklyarov is a foreign national.
I was not aware (and I certainly have no expertise here so help
me out) that foreigners are subject to US laws. The type of
encryption policies practiced by Adobe and supported by DMCA are
actually in part illegal in Sklyarov's country. He did his work
at his company's bidding and in part as a good citizen of Russia
and in conformance with Russian laws. I had thought that there
were procedures that are a bit different if a country wants to
bring charges against a non-citizen.

> > Lastly, do not call people who do cyber breaking and enterning
> > "hackers".
> Sorry. I agree with your implied point that hacking is not necessarily
> related to criminal behavior. Running a tool downloaded from the Internet
> is not really hacking in any sense of the word.

Hacking is not about breaking into anyone's systems. "Cracking"
would be a better term. The media has abused this term where we
"hackers" stand a much better chance of being misunderstood and
even subject to persecution as a result. I have been a "hacker"
for 22 years but I have never yet broken into a computer system.

> > This "encryption" is so asinine and childish that a 12 year old
> > could break it without hardly trying.
> Agreed. That is why they need laws to prevent people from doing it. The
> encryption itself is not good enough to deter anybody.

Yes, to the extent it should be done. The questions and issues
should be debated publicly more. As Lawrence Lessig has
written, enforcing limitations on others in code takes the level
and kind of limitations out of the public forum and makes room
for much more draconian control and limitation than would pass
the law making process. The DMCA is bad law because it makes it
legal for any and all such schemes to be implemented, to go
unquestioned and makes it illegal to circumvent or even
reverse-engineer in order to understand such encoded

> > It is also offered in conformance with "fair use" which Adobe
> > e-books and other closed systems today would deny by enforcing a
> > different set of common law in the code itself which everyone is
> > then forbiddent to reverse-engineer or contravene. This is a
> > huge threat to all of us.
> I'm not sure this blocks fair use. People still must pay for books. When
> you borrow a book from a library for free, it is because the library paid
> for it. Adobe is trying to develop a method to ensure payment. I'm not
> sure I see how enforcing payment threatens fair use of copyrighted
> materials. I am probably missing your point as to what is threatening about
> this technology.

But I can do far more with a book than I can do with heavily
copy protected and use restricted e-books and other similar
material. In code I can restrict the number of times the book
is read, by whom it is read, the time period it is readable in,
what it can be read with, whether it can be copied or excerpted
at all and any number of other things that it is not possible
and judged quite undesirable to do with normal books.

> Are you arguing against the concept of copyrights in general? That is a
> complicated topic, about which I have still not finalized my position. I
> hate the idea of patents which limit the use of a great idea.

Patent is a totally different animal from copyright. Algorithms
and thus software at one time was considred unpatentable much as
a mathematical proof is unpatentable. But the entire patent
question is a large topic best left for some other time.

>However, I
> can't see how inventors would get paid without them. The same is true for
> copyrights. I hate the idea that a freely-copyable resource is artificially
> limited, but I don't know how artists and writers would get paid without
> enforcing payment. I admit that I have not researched this enough, and
> therefore I am not sure what the best answer should be.

Paying the producers of music, books, software and so on for
their work is a separable issue from restricting the utility and
availability of that work in ways that actually lessen its value
to us all.

I don't have a full position either but I know the current
situation is robbing us of the full value of what we and others

- samantha

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:58 MDT