Adobe has dropped the charges against Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, who was arrested for copyright infringement of its eBook product.

The about-turn comes after protestors rallied in more than 20 US cities Monday, urging the sale of Adobe stock and a boycott of Adobe products.

Sklyarov was arrested in Las Vegas on July 16 after the conclusion of the Defcon hacker conference, where he had presented material on undoing Adobe's eBook encryption. The FBI arrested Sklyarov at the behest of Adobe, charging him with violating a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act preventing the sale of tools designed to circumvent copy-control technology.

Conversion Sklyarov, a programmer for Moscow-based ElcomSoft, wrote Advanced eBook Processor, which converts files from Adobe's secure eBook Reader format to the more widely used PDF. The program is legal in Russia. Adobe's eBook format restricts users from manipulating files in several ways, including backing up, printing, or copying and pasting.

Robin Gross, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading cyber-rights organization, said: "I think that folks here at Adobe are sympathetic to the public outcry, and do not want to lose customers and let the situation escalate into a grander international incident than it already is."

About turn The EFF met with Adobe officials for more than four hours yesterday, before agreeing that the EFF and Adobe would jointly recommend Sklyarov's release, and Adobe would withdraw its complaint, Gross says. The EFF initially joined the protests, but withdrew when Adobe agreed to meet.

Gross added: "There were quite a few protestors, and I think that had quite a bit of influence over the employees and negotiators." The government still needs to formally drop charges, but Gross expects that will occur and Sklyarov will be released.

Bill Scannell, a security consultant who organized the Adobe boycott with Peter Shipley, praised Adobe's decision. He said:
"Adobe has done the right thing. I'm happy with everything."

Scannell added: "People are looking for excuses to dump tech stocks. Money is the only thing companies understand. We could whine as much as we wanted, but until it stops them getting money from my pocket, my mum's pocket, or your pocket, they aren't going to pay attention."