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Software, reverse engineering and the law

Software, reverse engineering and the law

Posted May 4, 2005 19:24 UTC (Wed) by lacostej (guest, #2760)
Parent article: Software, reverse engineering and the law

I have a question related to reverse engineering. Let's say that a company provides a library and I implement an open source tool that integrates with it (thanks to a plugin provided by someone else). Now in order for anyone to create a full binary version of the open source tool, one needs to have access to this third party library. Unfortunately this library might not be redistributable.

So I've made a mock library that I intend to redistribute freely. It's an interface-only version of the library (no implementation at all) which is complete enough for anyone to correctly compile the tool.

To create this mock library I've used a 2 step procedure: someone wrote a client of that official library, and I wrote the mock library based on the client's code. I never had access to the official library.

My questions are:
- does anyone think that this action could be considered illegal? (After all my mock library needs to use the exact same names as the original one)

- does anyone think that a tool that automates the writing of this mock library could be illegal? The tool could use a 2 step approach as described above, or a one step one, reading the official library and producing the mock from it right away.

Comments appreciated.

jerome(at)coffeebreaks.org


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Software, reverse engineering and the law

Posted May 4, 2005 20:04 UTC (Wed) by MathFox (guest, #6104) [Link]

For your first question: I can't say; IANAL and jurisdiction and licences are very important here. See a real lawyer.

I see no problems with a program that takes an interface specification and writes out a skeleton implementation of the interface. (As long as it is an original work that doesn't infringe patents.) There is a snag here: A judge will consider the output from your program a "derivative work" from the input. Running the program on a third party library could be against its license conditions.

Software, reverse engineering and the law

Posted May 4, 2005 22:08 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

The only one who can do something illegal is person who wrote client program. If there were nothing in library license preventing this then everything should be legal.

Writing such a tool is not illegal - it's usage can be illegal if library in question has really strict license.


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