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Re: Proprietary software impedes the progress of knowledge?

From: John Hasler
Subject: Re: Proprietary software impedes the progress of knowledge?
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2008 07:45:01 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.2 (gnu/linux)

mike3 writes:
> The reason I'd think it wasn't is because the license agreements for most
> proprietary software explicitly say that "you may not decompile,
> disassemble, reverse engineer, ..." the program. Do those terms actually
> carry that type of legal weight, as if so, then I would be right -- it is
> _not_ legal to do it?

It could be breach of contract for which the vendor could sue you in local
court _if_ you were a party to the contract, which you would not be (in the
US) if you purchased the program second hand.  It would not be copyright
infringement or any kind of crime.  Furthermore, even if they did sue you
and win they would not be able to get the secrets back out of the public
domain once they had been published.

Also, their claim of even having any secrets would be shaky if they have
distributed large numbers of copies of the program without making a
vigorous effort to protect the secrets by auditing customers, requiring
that anyone with access to the program sign an NDA, etc.  See USL v UC.
John Hasler
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

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