Confessions of an Anonymous Coward: Free Dmitry San Francisco 2001

Rally, Protest and Court

When I heard Don Marti was organizing a protest in San Francisco, I had to go. Free Dmitry was a great way to help someone and get out the message about the DMCA. Don was the editor in chief of LinuxJournal. At that time, I am not sure what his role was but I read his work all the time.

At any rate, I told Don I was coming up and I booked the flight. I didn’t have a lot back then. I was going to college for my undergrad degree and raising 3 kids. Little kids at that. I was fortunate to be able to travel. My mother lived in a neighboring city.

I was headed there for the protest when I found out there would be a rally the night before. I called the airline – Yes I called! It was 2001. Maybe with my flip phone? Hahaha.

Ok, so I changed my booking. It cost extra so I had to stay at the Ramada. Fine. (I say that now… it was not really fine. Not fine.)

So, I went to San Francisco.

Rally: I got a rental car and I traveled to the rally. I got the lay of the land because I wanted to be in court the next day and it was a tight squeeze of time to get to the protest. Anyway, the rally was amazing. The first DMCA protest, there was all of 10 people. The building was full and they gave me… a press pass.

My japanese mother was camera crazy! She filmed me from birth and video taped my first day of school etc. So, before the protest, I went down to the PAWN shop. Yes the pawn shop… and got myself this analog hi-8. It was what I could afford and worth every penny… although at the time, I wasn’t sure it was.

I wanted to document this part of the journey. So, I filmed RMS, I interviewed RMS and Don, I filmed RMS and Lessig. I filmed the speakers, including Dmitry. Just all this.

Court: San Jose, Dmitry Plea

The next day, I took a Casio Camera watch into the court room and got pics of Dmitry. Then… I rode the elevator down with him and distracted the press upon their request. It was his lawyer, I believe EFF, and a translator and myself. I had made friends with the translator on the way up.

When the crowd of people wanted to ride on the elevator, I stepped in front of it, put out my hand, said “Please”… then, I saw they were holding it for me… so I got in.

Downstairs, I distracted the press, I said, “Yea. Dmitry?” The one reporter said, “We heard he was coming down the elevator this way” I said, “Oh, they got off the elevator and I think they were headed over to that side… which was really far of a run… and then I said, wait… you don’t want to interview me? as they ran away to try to catch a moment of Dmitry with the equipment guy running behind them. I laughed so hard. Oh, I mean… there. So, not very nice… I know, but they didn’t wait around for me to correct myself. Not expected. Truly not expected. Rude!!!!

When I got to the protest, these guys were trying to shut down the parking lot I had scoped out. I just went past them as they were setting up, parked and paid. Hey, I had a lot of expenses on that trip!

So, I arrived at the protest and the Russian camera crew asked if I would record, “The DMCA is Bullshit” So I did. Somewhere, there is archive of this. I never got to see it.

We marched. We chanted on the way. What do we want, Free Dmitry… When do we want it..

I screamed, YESTERDAY!

RMS laughed. I was marching alongside RMS and Bruce Perens. Bruce wasn’t at the rally but made the protest. Lessig was at the rally but didn’t go to the protest. Cindy Cohn from the EFF was there. Bella was there. We did have a grand time.

I left San Francisco and the scary Ramada with all the ticks, smells and interesting guests behind me and headed back to sunny Chandler, Arizona. At the time, I didn’t realize what a significant impact this really was in my life. Within a year, I interned at the FSF and was a committee member on the Digital Speech Project. After graduation, I volunteered at the EFF writing the FAQs for the DMCA blog with Cory Doctorow who admitted he didn’t know that much about the DMCA at that time. I image he has surpassed my knowledge as he seemed to be up-to-date on that Boing Boing blog of his. Emmett Plant told me I should do a copyright blog. At the time, I didn’t think anyone would read it and I worked full time, was in grad school full time and was a single mom of 3. Those 3 are grow, all raised on Debian. The daughter didn’t like Debian Jr… so she went right to potato.

She and I spoke at Fosdem in 2021 about accessibility. We started to go to conferences before Covid hit but on the way to Pasadena, we were only a little over an hour away when Pasadena issued a city emergency, I got the call from Serge, my friend who was working at JPL. I turned around and we headed back to Arizona. My daughter has mixed connective tissue disease. This is a bunch of autoimmunes. Anyway, we had a booth, Don Marti was going… I am so disappointed I didn’t get to reconnect with Don. We had planned it! Poor Don gave so many presentations that conference! LOL. We had become good friends over the years. He had a mailing list and we had some really good conversations.

if you are interested in some of that footage, you can find it at:

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