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Dan Stovall dbstovall at gmail.com
Wed Apr 6 16:00:30 MDT 2005


On Apr 6, 2005 3:06 PM, Josh Coates <jcoates at archive.org> wrote:
> 
> >It's not illegal per se.
> 
> AYAL? IANAL.
> 
> but i'm pretty sure if you willfully violate an EULA (which typically has
> the "don't reverse engineer this" clause), and/or copy someones intellectual
> property, then you are breaking the law.
> 
IANAL, but...

In almost every case, violating an EULA doesn't make you a criminal. 
It is a license agreement.  Not a law.  You have broken an agreement
you have made.  This could result in a lawsuit, but most likely in
civil court, not in criminal court.  Even then, just because you
accept the EULA so that you can use a product doesn't mean that the
EULA is binding.  There are examples of EULAs being thown out for
various reasons.  Agreements and contracts are broken all the time. 
When both sides agree to it there is no problem.  When one side is
damaged by it they have recourse, but usually not criminal.

Interestingly, just a few weeks ago there was an article about a kid
that is being allowed to sue a skate park for breaking his leg even
after his mother signed a waiver.  The signed waiver was required to
use the park.  An appeals court ruled that the waiver was "void from
its inception", I think becuase they say that a parent can't sign away
the kids right to sue.  Just an example of how things like EULA can be
agreed to by all parties and then thrown our when the rubber hits the
road.

> but in either case, you are right that it certainly violates the spirit of
> the agreement in this particular case.  my original point is that this is an
> example of very unprofessional, immature behavior and if the OSS community
> knows whats good for them, they should come down hard on it instead of
> celebrating it as some kind of moral victory.

What is being described as reverse engineering?  Were they actually
watching registers and memory addresses to see exactly what was
happening and then writing code to match it?  Or were they simply
trying to duplicate a feature set?  If all they were doing was trying
to duplicate a feature set I don't see how you could consider that
reverse engineering.  That sort of thing happens between competitors
all the time, and it should be allowed.  That is why software patents
would be such a bad idea.

Dan



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