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Reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering?

Posted Jul 15, 2004 14:23 UTC (Thu) by southey (subscriber, #9466)
Parent article: DMCA fun from StorageTek

So if the DMCA holds here then does reverse engineering come illegal in the US? Presumably most depends on the terms of the license of StorageTek and how if CHE Consulting actually needed to break the GetKey algorithm. But Microsoft must be watching very closely as Samba and Wine could be in the same siutation.


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Reverse engineering?

Posted Jul 17, 2004 10:55 UTC (Sat) by Duncan (guest, #6647) [Link]

> So if the DMCA holds here then does
> reverse engineering come illegal in the US?

IANAL and all that, but no, as I understand from what I've read, it can't
"become" illegal, because the terms of the DMCA specifically and directly
define it AS illegal already, within the scope of subverting "encryption"
with the purpose of "access protection". That isn't disputed, it's in the
law (altho the rightness of the law is certainly disputed).

The court cases have turned on the definition of "encryption" and "access
protection". Unfortunately, the terms have been interpreted rather
broadly, such that virtually anything not in plainest possible format is
encryption, and anything not specifically licenced by the rights holder is
violation of the "access protection". Thus, for example, a mechanism
documented to have originally been included for data compression purposes
could conceivably be validly claimed to be "encrytion for the purpose of
access protection" as well.

Unfortunately, that's where we're at, and why the DMCA is so despised by
technical people everywhere.

I intend to follow up with a more political analysis of the situation IMO,
so fair warning to those that don't like such things, to skip it.

Duncan

Political analysis: Effects of the current political environment on MS, in context

Posted Jul 17, 2004 11:37 UTC (Sat) by Duncan (guest, #6647) [Link]

An upline post asked about the DMCA and reverse engineering, and what
effect that might have on MS and SAMBA, etc. I said AFAIK the DMCA
specifically prohibited reverse engineering where it could be construed as
interfering with access protection, and that unfortunately the courts have
been construing that quite broadly, but left the political analysis and
effect on MS/SAMBA for this post.

While many have predicted MS attacking open source legally, it hasn't yet
happened, except by proxy in cases such as SCOG and various funded think
tank propaganda pieces. One may fairly ask what's holding them back.

The answer, it would seem, would be the sensitivity of the monopoly
situation. Altho they did seem to have gotten lucky with the election
process and won the last round by default, the situation remains delicate
enough that it would seem they are hesitant to bring a lot of action
directly, as it could easily reignite the monopoly wars, which I'd guess
they'd just as soon avoid, at present.

I haven't seen it mentioned directly, probably because that direct a
discussion of politics is generally avoided, but it is my belief and I
believe that of others as well, that should Bush win reelection, that
might change. Such an event could be viewed as affirmation of the Justice
Department's handling of the situation under his leadership, and therefore
be seen as a green light for MS to do whatever they want. Assuming this
view is correct as I believe, one could further predict that if Bush wins
in November, we can expect a number of MS legal announcements in December
or certainly by March, as MS begins "enforcing its intellectual property
rights", free of the worry that such will trigger yet another round of
anti-monopoly action, at least at the federal level.

If Kerry wins, I'd predict a period of feeling out his policies, with the
round of actions likely beginning second half of next year, if they are
comfortable with the anti-monopoly atmosphere.

As for the DMCA, keep in mind it was passed in 1998, about half way thru
the second term of the Clinton Administration. By then, of course,
Congress was safely Republican, but it's important to remember that just
because the white house changes parties, doesn't mean policies will change
for the better re the DMCA. There's talk of modifying it, and while talk
originally centered on a DMCA-II strengthening it, if that can even be
imagined, it would seem the political winds have changed and there's now
some pressure to weaken its most draconian provisions, altho there's as
yet no realistic proposals to outright repeal it. Unfortunately, I don't
know what the position of the political primaries is at this point, nor
what either Bush or Kerry support.

As for my personal position on those two, while I frankly don't trust
Kerry one bit as he comes across to me as the consumate polititian, /far/
to "inside the beltway" and slimy for my tastes, I simply cannot imagine
the policies of a Kerry administration could be worse than that of the
current Bush administration. If they are, I'm afraid we may ultimately be
in for a John Titor like scenario (look it up if necessary). The scary
thing about Titor is that regardless of whether one believes his
definitely "out there" story, his predictions remain all to close to the
possibility of reality for comfort. Never-the-less, despite my grave
reservations about Kerry, the fact is I simply cannot vote to affirm the
current policies, and continue them four more years, Kerry reservations or
not.

Duncan


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