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Russian Arrested at Hacker Meeting

July 18, 2001

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A Russian computer programmer arrested after speaking at a hacker’s convention has been charged with distributing a program to crack encrypted software protecting electronic books.

The FBI said Wednesday that the case may be the first under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is aimed at protecting the rights of software producers.

Dmitry Sklyarov, 26, is accused of writing a program that unlocked the ``eBook Reader″ produced by Adobe Systems Inc. The company brought a complaint against him last month in federal court in San Jose, Calif.

Sklyarov was arrested at a Las Vegas hotel Monday, one day after speaking at the Def Con conference that drew 5,200 computer hackers and professionals to Las Vegas. According to a self-introduction on the Def Con Web site, his topic was encryption in Microsoft Office documents, which he called ``very weak.″

Sklyarov has agreed to have his case moved to California, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella said. If convicted of trafficking in a product designed to circumvent copyright protection measures, Sklyarov faces up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Adobe investigators told the FBI that they bought the unlocking program for $99.

Sklyarov works for ElcomSoft Co. in Moscow. Company president Alexander Katalov told the Los Angeles Times that the software was developed to let users copy electronic books onto multiple computers.

On its Web site, ElcomSoft says it is a privately owned software development company founded in 1990.

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