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Russian programmer out on bail

Three weeks after his arrest, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov is released on bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Three weeks after his arrest, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov is out on bail.

Sklyarov was ordered to post $50,000 bail Monday in San Jose Federal Court. He is not allowed to travel outside of Northern California. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Sklyarov was detained in July at the Def Con convention in Las Vegas after he gave a speech about his company's software, a program that can be used to crack Adobe Systems' eBook technology. He was held without bail in Nevada before being transferred to San Jose, Calif., a few days ago.

Sklyarov faces criminal charges of trafficking in the software, which federal officials say violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a U.S. law that makes it illegal to possess technology that can be used to crack programs designed to protect copyrights.

The charges against Sklyarov stem from a complaint Adobe made to federal prosecutors.

Before Monday's hearing, a few dozen people rallied outside the courtroom and asked people to sign petitions--the latest of many rallies in support of Sklyarov.

Protest organizer Jo Hastings said she was thrilled that Sklyarov can go free, but she hopes the case will shine a light on the DMCA and its potential for abuse.

"We're constantly complaining about how places like Russia treat people in their country," she said. "We're doing the exact same thing to Dmitry."

After the arrest, programmers around the world expressed outrage at the situation in general and Adobe in particular. Some even picketed company headquarters. In the face of support for Sklyarov, Adobe backed down, releasing a statement saying the programmer should go free. However, it's up to federal prosecutors to drop the charges--a prospect that doesn't seem likely.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has jumped in to represent Sklyarov, met with federal prosecutors last week but said the prosecutors showed no signs of backing down.

Sklyarov's arrest came as new FBI Director Robert Mueller was scheduled to participate in confirmation hearings. Mueller served as U.S. Attorney in the office where the arrest warrant originated. And two weeks ago, Attorney General John Ashcroft was in the Silicon Valley, telling tech companies that his office would be increasing prosecutions of intellectual property violations.