Lawyers for Russian-based ElcomSoft, which was charged last year for violating the anti-circumvention provisions of the US 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), have filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The lawyers argue that the DMCA was never meant to apply to foreign firms doing business over the Internet. They were expected to push this point Monday, along with arguments that the DMCA is overly broad and impinges on fair use rights.

ElcomSoft created and distributed a program called the Advanced eBook Processor, which allows users to circumvent the copyright-protection measures in Adobe's eBook format so that they can be read in more portable formats.

Adobe awareness After Adobe alerted the US government about the program, ElcomSoft and Dmitry Sklyarov Sklyarov – a programmer – were slapped with charges of violating the DMCA. After a wave of protests, both in the US and abroad, the charges against Sklyarov were dropped.

The US government, meanwhile, is sticking by its guns, saying that the DMCA was written to protect copyright holders, by offering them an incentive to continue to create artistic works.

The outcome of the case could dramatically impact the way in which foreign companies behave on the Internet, and in respect to the US, observers claim.

ElcomSoft President Alex Katalov said: "All foreign software companies will be under potential threat unless provisions of the DMCA are amended or any clarifications that establish single interpretation of the language used in the statute are made. Otherwise, it is advisable to foreign programmers to avoid going to the United States."

The case is being heard in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, in San Jose.