Peter A. Peterson II pedro@tastytronic.net
Sat, 21 Jul 2001 17:33:23 -0500

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The Chicago Free Sklyarov Protest: Pre-Protest Packet
by Nate Riffe <inkblot@geocities.com>
and Peter Peterson <pedro@tastytronic.net>

        What You Can Do As A Demonstrator


Dmitry Sklyarov was scheduled to present a paper and the 9th annual
DefCon conference in Las Vegas on Monday, June 16.  His paper and his
presentation contained detailed explanations of flaws the encryption
used by Adobe's eBook electronic book format.  Immediately after his
presentation, FBI agents arrested Sklyarov for violating the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  This law makes the manufacture,
distribution, and trafficking of an access control circumvention device
illegal.  Apparently under Adobe's and the FBI's overly broad
interpretation, Sklyarov's presentation was considered a circumvention

There have been prior instances of DMCA violations.  Sklyarov's is
unique in two ways.  1) This is the first arrest under the DMCA, which
recently became a criminal law.  Previous violations were handled as
civil suits, whereas Sklyarov is charged with a felony.  2) Sklyarov is
a foreign national (he is Russian), and the act he committed is not
illegal is any other nation.  His arrest under this law has become an
international incident, with stories reported in worldwide news outlets
such as the BBC.

Our complaints about the DMCA are two-fold.  First of all, it is a
glaring breech of our first ammendment rights.  Sklyarov, and a previous
violator, Dr.  Edward Felten of Princeton University, have respectively
been arrested for and barred from presenting academic results at
research conferences.  Monied interests in various industries have taken
these actions in fearful self-defense, to the detriment of science and
technology.  Secondly, the DMCA is materially harmful to society.  Under
the DMCA it is criminal to discover and openly discuss a flaw in a
security system which is designed to control access to information.  The
net effect of this provision is that flaws in such systems are
'protected' from ever being fixed.  The result is an accumulation of
security systems which don't secure anything, due to their flaws,
placing people at risk of such treacherous acts as identity theft and
fraud.  Our belief is that the proper way to handle a flaw in a security
system is not to punish the discoverer, but to publicly announce the
flaw, so that it is fixed as soon as possible.  This opposing policy is
often refered to as 'full disclosure'.

Our priorities are as follows: 1) Free Dmitry Sklyarov (even if this
requires a presidential pardon) 2) Repeal the DMCA (it is harmful to
science and society)


When: Monday, June 23, 2001 from 11 AM to 1 PM Central Time Where: At
the loop post office between 100 and 200 S. Dearborn, which is across
the street from the federal building.

Where: At the public plaza across from the federal building downtown.
The address is:

        Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Building 219 South Dearborn
        Street Suite 905 Chicago, IL 60604

        and we will be meeting near the big orange Calder statue at
        11:00 on Monday morning. This is what the statue looks like:


>From there we'll move to a higher-profile location in the plaza for our
demonstration. If you come late, just look for the people with the


These are the issues and the ONLY issues we will be raising: 1) Free
Dmitry Sklyarov 2) Repeal the DMCA (details below).

IMPORTANT NOTE: *** We must avoid raising anti-Adobe issues *** The EFF
and Adobe have agreed to talk in exchange for calling off the anti-Adobe
protests.  We are taking their actions in good faith and focusing on
other equally, if not more important issues.  If you would like to
protest Adobe's actions leading to Sklyarov's arrest, please, organize
another protest.  Also note that at this point there is very little that
Adobe can do for Dmitry Sklyarov, as the case is now in the hands of the
FBI, the Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the U.S. judicial system.
The best we can hope for from Adobe is a public apology and a promise
not to pursue individuals under the DMCA in the future.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: *** We are *NOT* protesting the FBI or the FBI's
action in this case. They are "doing their jobs" by following the DMCA
which *is* in effect. Protesters are specifically requested NOT to bring
anti-FBI signs or shirts to the protest.

We currently don't have any enemies other than the DMCA and we like to
keep it that way. With the current climate around the country regarding
demonstrations we are not willing to jeopardize the freedom and lives of
our fellow protesters or Dmitry himself via our own or another person's
actions. People unwilling to abide by these rules and goals should *NOT*
come to this protest.

Finally, we will abide by ANY REQUEST the Chicago Police Department
makes of us, including moving our location, not handing out leaflets,
etc. We are not here to cause unrest -- we're here to disseminate
information regarding Dmitry and the DMCA *only*. Again, if you can't
abide by that, please don't jeopardize the dignity of this group.


FIRST of all, if you intend to join us for the Chicago protests,
subscribe to the sklyarov-chicago mailing list here:


This is where we will be discussing our plans and strategies. PLEASE
CONFIRM WITH US if you expect to be there so that we have a general idea
how many list subscribers will show up downtown.

as possible, with big lettering and a short slogan (4 words or less)
If you can, make two or three. I recommend heavy tagboard and a wooden
handle.  Even cardboard would make a sturdier back -- but make sure you
put white paper on it first for MAXIMUM VISIBILITY. No anti Adobe, FBI,
or other law-enforcement slogans, please.

THIRDLY: Do you have legal access to a printer or a copier? We have
handout posters and information available here:


Pictures of Dmitry and his family are available here:


If you make a poster, save it in a .jpg format and email it to
pedro@tastytronic.net so that others may use them.

Pedro will be printing some 8 1/2 by 11 handouts with the poster on one
side and DMCA information like the Reuter's feed or our own press
release on the other side. Hand people the flyers with the poster side
up -- when they turn it over, they'll see the article. The Reuter's
article will be in the same directory as the poster .jpgs. Use bright
neon paper for handouts if you can.

If you can print some posters or signs, please do so and let the
sklyarov-chicago list know so that we can coordinate our efforts!

FOURTHLY, Please dress appropriately for a public demonstartion. No
obscenities or "innapropriate dress". T-shirts and shorts are fine --
casual clothing is better. As sad as it is, our appearance WILL have an
effect on our audience. We want them to hear about this injustice --
today is not the day to be shocking or make a fashion statement.

SIXTH, If you have personal contacts in any of the news media around
town, contact them and send them the Reuter's feed, our poster, this
message, or direct them to http://www.freesklyarov.org/ -- we want media
coverage of our demonstration. It's GOOD but NOT GOOD ENOUGH just to
hand out 500 leaflets. The TV or radio or newspaper interviewing
demonstrators will reach many more people than our small group can.

All this information will be at:


FINALLY, be on time, and be ready to be courteous but intensely
committed to disseminating this information to the American Public. Do
you even KNOW any non-computer users who have even HEARD of the DMCA? We
must maket his a national issue -- the DMCA strips the rights of the
American Citizen. It's already stripped the rights of a Russian.

Questions and comments can be directed to inkblot@geocities.com or


If at any time during the protest, it appears that our goals will be
compromised by violence, immaturity, or sabotage, the coordinators of
the event will not hesitate to call off the event and send everyone
home.  There are important issues at stake, most importantly the release
of Dmitry Sklyarov.  It is in our best intrest to present ourselves in a
civil, orderly manner.


If you have any questions or comments, please contact Nate Riffe
<inkblot@geocities.com> or Peter Peterson <pedro@tastytronic.net>.

   FREE DMITRY SKLYAROV -- FBI has imprisioned a Russian software 
   engineer for promoting and teaching the concept of "fair use".
Read more: http://www.eff.org/alerts/20010719_eff_sklyarov_alert.html