<-- The Filter --> August 2001

August 31, 2001
No. 4.4  .  The Filter  .  08.30.01

Your regular dose of public interest Internet news and commentary from
the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School


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> Copyright Protection—By Any Means Necessary?: A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Russian computer programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, and his company ElcomSoft Co. Ltd., on five charges of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Now Sklyarov, who was arrested last month for helping create software that bypasses the encryption in Adobe's eBook files, could face up to twenty-five years in jail and $2,250,000 in fines. His arraignment is scheduled for today.


In the wake of Sklyarov's arrest, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig wrote a New York Times op-ed piece attacking its legal basis: the DMCA's controversial anticircumvention provisions. "[W]hen the DMCA protects technology that in turn protects copyrighted material, it often protects much more broadly than copyright law does," wrote Lessig. "It makes criminal what copyright law would forgive."


Shortly after the op-ed was published, Roger Parloff wrote an article defending the arrest, arguing that the FBI "seems to have ample basis for exercising jurisdiction over Sklyarov." The article invites Lessig to "visit Planet Earth" where "it only takes a single unprotected copy to have the [copyrighted] material spread." It also suggests that the Electronic Frontier Foundation—the organization that negotiated with Adobe to drop charges against Sklyarov— misrepresents the facts in the matter in order to drum up public support for its cause. "While we can all applaud the Electronic Frontier Society [sic] and its allies for their dogged and vigilant commitment to free speech, every once in awhile it would be refreshing to see those advocates show a comparable commitment to candid speech."


Below, Lessig responds. His editorial, "A Commitment to Candid Speech," argues that Parloff's "Planet Earth" reflects not reality but an outdated, oversimplified vision of how the Internet impacts copyright. "These are not nuclear secrets; we are not China trying to suppress pictures of the massacre at Tienanmen Square," writes Lessig. "The issue is how many other values get sacrificed in the name of protecting copyright. That is the debate we should be having. And it is against the background of that debate that this arrest of a foreign programmer for writing code legal in his own country looks particularly grotesque."


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> Berkman Center Assists CRA in Felten DMCA Challenge: Calling the issue fundamental to free expression and academic research, the Berkman Center assisted University of Washington professor Edward Lazowska and the Computing Research Association (CRA) with their August 13 submission of a declaration of support for Princeton University professor Edward Felten. The lawsuit asserts the right of computer researchers to reveal the findings of their academic work.

Follow the link below for the joint press release from the CRA and Berkman Center, which contains links to Edward Lazowska's declaration on behalf of the CRA in Felten v. RIAA and background details of the case:


> Seeking New Team Members: In anticipation of projects planned for the year ahead, activity at the Berkman Center is now ramping up. We have three new positions opening up; they are for a Program Manager, Executive Assistant, and Program Associate. If you are excited by the prospect of putting your top-notch organizational and administrative skills to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment—or know someone who would be—we invite you to visit, or freely forward, the URL below.


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* The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law


Well-written and accessible, this law journal features short articles that provide—like the original Green Bag published from 1889 to 1914—"useful and engaging reading on the legal issues of the day."

* The Future of Media Grok


Still mourning the death of the Industry Standard's award-winning Media Grok daily dispatch? Former Grok editor Jim Guterman offers a mailing list you can subscribe to in order to find out what happens next.

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"If any firm should be at the cutting edge of using technology for lobbying, it should be Microsoft."

—University of California at Berkeley business professor David Vogel, on a Microsoft-funded initiative that reportedly sent letters (some, notoriously, from dead people) using a range of typefaces and colors to give state attorneys general the impression that a nationwide grassroots letter-writing campaign was underway.


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Last updated

January 15, 2008