Hackers angry about the FBI's arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov have spawned a campaign against Adobe who filed the complaint leading to his arrest last week.
Sklyarov (pictured here) was arrested after Def Con, an annual hacker's conference hosted in Las Vegas. In response to the arrest, Def Con attendees Peter Shipley and Bill Scannell have launched a Web site - BoycottAdobe.com - and called on members of the security and hacking communities to not use Adobe products.
They're asking hackers to eschew Adobe products such as Photoshop and PageMaker, and to join a letter-writing campaign to the Washington legislators who passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act law under which Sklyarov is being charged.
Throwing the eBook Sklyarov, who works for a Moscow-based company called ElcomSoft, was arrested for allegedly selling software that cracks the encryption code used for electronic books produced with Adobe Acrobat. The encryption limits the use of the books by their buyers. Customers can't make copies of the reading material to distribute to a second system.
Sklyarov allegedly brought 500 copies of a trial version of the program to demonstrate during his Def Con presentation, and gave information about purchasing the full program. The DMCA prohibits the distribution of such copying tools. Sklyarov, if convicted, faces a prison sentence of up to five years and a $500,000 fine. Adobe was not immediately available to respond to the complaints.
Mistake cover-up Reaction in the hacking community has been "swift and strong," says Jay Dyson, a security consultant. Like many in the hacker community, he contends the FBI arrested Sklyarov at Adobe's urging.
"There has been a groundswell of animosity toward Adobe for bringing in the FBI to cover up their own programming mistakes," Dyson says.
Besides the boycott and letter-writing campaign, BoycottAdobe.com is telling people to sell all but one share of Adobe stock in protest. The site advises consumers to hold or purchase one share in order to have voting rights at Adobe's stockholder meetings.
Attack warning Dyson also urges fellow hackers to exercise restraint in their complaints against Adobe: "I would strongly urge against launching an attack against Adobe. That would only denigrate the position we're taking and hurt the concept of what we're trying to get across," he says. "A better alternative is to just not use Adobe products."
Paul Holman, designer and webmaster of the boycott site, reports receiving about 500 positive email messages daily since the site went live last Tuesday. But the immediate goal is to get Sklyarov released, he says:
"Our aim is to put pressure on Adobe to get them to repeal their complaint against him," Holman says.