Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and his employer Elcomsoft today pled not guilty to charges of providing electronic book format conversion software in the United States. Sklyarov, who had the benefit of a court interpreter, spoke the plea himself in English.

The court heard a five-count grand jury indictment against Elcomsoft and previously jailed programmer Sklyarov on charges of trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in a copyright circumvention device.

Sklyarov -- who is out of custody on US$50,000 bail -- could face a prison term of up to twenty-five years and a US$2,250,000 fine. As a corporation, Elcomsoft faces a potential US$2,500,000 fine.

"Dmitry has programmed a format converter which has many legitimate uses including enabling the blind to hear eBooks," explained Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Director. "The idea that he faces prison for this is outrageous. The EFF will support Dmitry through the end of this ordeal."

"We were hoping that the government would see the wisdom and justice in not pursuing a case against Sklyarov," said his attorney, Joseph M. Burton of Duane Morris in San Francisco. "Even if one were to ignore the serious legal questions involving the DMCA, this case hardly cries out for criminal prosecution. Sklyarov's and Elcomsoft's actions are not conduct that Congress intended to criminalize. We will vigorously contest these charges."

Sklyarov and his attorneys appeared at the arraignment with US Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg presiding. The next court appearance scheduled in the case is 9:00 AM Pacific on September 4 before Judge Ronald Whyte in the San Jose Federal Court building.

Well-dressed observers attended the arraignment and nonviolent protests occurred in Moscow (Russia), London (England), Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Reno, and Black Rock City, Nevada.