After several dismissal motions and delays, the US government's high-profile lawsuit against Russian company ElcomSoft is finally set to go to trial today.
The case marks the first time criminal charges will go to trial under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn says: "This case could set a tremendous precedent in terms of the DMCA's chilling effects."
ElcomSoft is being prosecuted for developing and distributing a software program that allows users to circumvent the copyright protection in Adobe's eBook file format. The Moscow-based company and one of its programmers, Dmitry Sklyarov, were charged with violating the DMCA last year after Sklyarov gave a presentation on the product at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas.
The criminal charges against Skylarov were later dropped, however, in exchange for his cooperation in the case.
ElcomSoft has argued that its software is not illegal to distribute in Russia, and that the DMCA impedes on its fair use and free speech rights. The company says that the software was created to allow eBooks to be read in more portable formats.
The government contends that the DMCA is blanket law, however, prohibiting copyright circumvention.
"This case will send a strong message one way or another," Cohn says, noting that it is of particular interest to foreign software developers.