ComputerWorld: Battle brews over reverse engineering

“Recent court decisions limiting developers’ rights to
reverse-engineer software products have sparked an outcry by
critics who say these actions could severely limit developers and
users trying to interoperate or find flaws in commercial

“Fair-use provisions in the copyright laws that permit reverse
engineering have spurred the development of software that competes
with proprietary applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. For
example, San Jose-based Phoenix Technologies Ltd.’s reverse
engineering of IBM’s BIOS in the mid-1980s became the basis for the
entire PC clone industry.”

“While Congress made exceptions in the 1998 Digital
Millennium Copyright Act for interoperability development and
security testing, these exceptions have been overridden in favor of
anticircumvention provisions and trade secrecy laws.”


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