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Re: [Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>] Re: Debian & BSD concerns

On Wed, Mar 10, 1999 at 04:44:50PM -0700, Bruce Sass wrote:
> That's in-line with my understanding of the situation.
> If you were to take the driver for some hardware and disassemble it,
> then write a program that performed the same function based on that
> disassembly, you would be violating the copyright because your work is
> not original.
> If on the other hand you were locked in a room with a computer and the
> card, no driver, and you managed to write a driver for it based solely
> on public domain information and the response of the card to your
> efforts, then you would have an original work and could license it how
> you see fit.
> The tough part is being able to prove that you did not use any
> proprietary info to generate your driver.  While the onus may be on them
> to show that you did use proprietary information, as soon as they point
> out similarities in the way things are coded you will need to
> demonstrate that any similarities are either a coincidence, or that any
> engineer without specific knowledge could arrive at the same solution,
> and furthermore, that is how you did it.

IANAL but....
I think thats right and wrong.

You can dissasemble their program and write your own still..not using
any of their code and still not violate their copyright...
However...it is hard, if not impossible to prove that you didn't steal
their code.

This is where the "clean room" idea of reverse engineering comes in.
1 person reverse engineers the code and documents it. They would
extensivly document how the whole thing works. (without code)
Then hands the docs to a second party who then codes it.

In this manner the coder has not even seen the copyrighted work and
thus can not possibly copy it

> -- 
> On Wed, 10 Mar 1999, Jonathan P Tomer wrote:
> > actually i think certain forms of reverse engineering are illegal due
> > to patent and/or copyright issues but it can be worked around by
> > having one person run a lot of tests on a piece of equipment and
> > another creating <whatever> to fit the specs as determined by the
> > tester.
> > 
> > i'm not certain about this, so please don't make the list suffer if
> > i'm wrong.
> > 
> > --p.
> > 
> > 
> > 

/* -- Stephen Carpenter <sjc@delphi.com> --- <sjc@debian.org>------------ */
I shall come to you in the night and we shall see who is stronger --
a little girl who won't eat her dinner or a great big man with cocaine
in his veins.
                -- Sigmund Freud, in a letter to his fiancee

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