Hackers around the world are demanding a community boycott of Adobe products in protest at the arrest of Russian security expert Dmitry Sklyarov.
The professional cryptographer was grabbed by the FBI at last week's hacker conference, DefCon.
Sklyarov, who works for Moscow security firm ElcomSoft, was at DefCon giving a seminar on the insecurities of Adobe's eBook PDF encryption software.
This software is used to encrypt electronic books in PDF format so they cannot be copied, thus protecting a company's copyright.
But Sklyarov apparently claimed that the encryption method used is so insecure that Adobe itself "violates the rights of book authors and publishers" by making it so easy for the documents to be copied over the internet.
Allegedly, Sklyarov took to the conference 500 copies of a trial version of eBook decryption software, the "Advanced eBook Processor", that he developed.
Adobe cried copyright infringement and filed a complaint with the FBI, which promptly arrested him under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Sklyarov now languishes in a federal detention centre awaiting trial before the Northern California Federal District Court under charges of "trafficking in a product designed to circumvent copyright protection measures".
The incident has provoked a sympathetic reaction amongst the security and hacker communities. Two DefCon attendees, Peter Shipley and Bill Scannell, have launched a website, boycottadobe.com, calling for users to abandon Adobe products in protest.
The site launches a blistering attack against the DMCA, which it labels "a flawed piece of US federal legislation which attempts to bring US copyright law into the 21st century. In this it fails miserably. One of the provisions of the DMCA is that it makes circumventing a security protocol a felony."
The site also says that Adobe's customers will suffer: "Resorting to criminal prosecution rather than fixing broken security hurts Adobe's customers, who have paid good money only to find out their intellectual property is protected by 4th-rate security," it reads.
In fact, just before Sklyarov's arrest, Barnes&Noble had stopped its online sales of eBooks after being informed that the format does not provide copyright security.
In a twist of irony, an interview with Alexander Katalov, president of Elcomsoft and an ex-KGB operative, found on the Elcomsoft website, reveals the FBI itself to be one of the company's biggest customers.
"Our major customers for passwords hacking program are special services. Same FBI was purchasing those programs for several times," said Katalov.
The same DCMA that got Sklyarov banged up does allow US government agents to legally use decryption programs.
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