ElcomSoft, a software company based in Russia, is charged with five federal counts of offering and marketing software designed to crack Adobe's eBooks, actions prosecutors say violate digital copyright laws.
In a federal courtroom in San Jose, Calif., ElcomSoft attorney Joseph Burton asked Thomas Diaz, a senior engineering manager at Adobe, whether his company tried to determine if there were illegal copies of eBooks, electronic versions of printed books, in circulation as a result of ElcomSoft's actions.
Diaz said Adobe had hired two companies to conduct surveillance and search for unauthorized eBooks on the Internet. Burton then asked whether Adobe "found any indication that Elcomsoft's product was used to make illicit copies of books?"
"Not to my knowledge," Diaz replied.
The case is the first major trial to deal with the criminal provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. The law makes it illegal to circumvent copyright protections, even if code is being cracked for legal uses, such as reverse engineering.
While cross-examining several government witnesses, including three current and former Adobe employees, Burton tried to make the case that companies are trying to use technological controls to quash a consumer's ability to perform tasks within his or her legal right--such as making a back-up copy of a document, for example.
Prosecutors are trying to show that ElcomSoft intended to offer a product that would let people make numerous unauthorized copies of eBooks--essentially breaking copyright laws.
During Wednesday's proceedings, U.S. attorney Scott Frewing attempted to show that Adobe and other companies aren't trying to place undue restrictions on intellectual property. He pointed out that there are certain legal restrictions for the copying of printed books as well.
At one point during questioning, Frewing asked Adobe's Diaz about bringing a printed book to the beach. If an unexpected wave got the book wet, ruining it, "could I go to the bookstore and demand another copy?" Frewing asked.
"You can demand," Diaz replied, adding that he wasn't sure such a request would be necessarily successful.
The government could wrap up its testimony as early as Thursday.
It's also looking unlikely that Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov will testify for the government. Sklyarov, an ElcomSoft employee, wasand jailed in Las Vegas last year after giving a speech about the company's software. Prosecutors, however, dropped charges against him in exchange for his testimony in the case.
Prosecutors hinted that they plan to question other witnesses about an earlier deposition given by Sklyarov and possibly show a videotape to the court. The defense team said they plan to call Sklyarov if the government does not.