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Visa roadblock could delay DMCA case

ElcomSoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and CEO Alex Katalov are scheduled to appear in court to address alleged copyright violations. Yet a visa problem could delay the date.

Witnesses in the ElcomSoft trial have been denied visas to enter the United States, a move that could delay a court date in the first criminal test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

ElcomSoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and CEO Alex Katalov, both Russian residents, are scheduled to appear in court as early as next Monday. According to people close to the matter, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow have denied their visa applications to enter the United States.

ElcomSoft is facing charges of violating the criminal provisions of the DMCA, which prohibits offering technology that circumvents copyright protections. The Russian company created software that could crack protections on Adobe Systems' eBooks.

The case first gained attention in the summer of 2001, when Sklyarov was arrested at a Las Vegas convention after giving a speech about the software. Programmers throughout the country protested his detention, saying he was only doing his job.

The visa tangle, first reported by, could pose problems for Sklyarov in particular, as U.S. prosecutors dropped charges against him in exchange for his testimony in the case against ElcomSoft. Katalov is expected to represent ElcomSoft in the case.

ElcomSoft representatives said company attorneys were working to sort out the visa problem. Meanwhile, representatives from both sides are scheduled to appear in federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday to sort out last-minute matters surrounding the trial.

It's not the first time ElcomSoft employees have had trouble with immigration issues related to the DMCA case.

Katalov was tangled up earlier this year by immigration officials after landing in the United States for a court hearing, in part because he indicated in immigration documents that he had been accused of criminal charges--the very reason he was coming back to the country.