Reverse engineering court decision

Patrik Stridvall ps at
Tue Feb 6 13:51:17 CST 2001

> Patrik Stridvall wrote:
> >
> > One intresting aspect concerning Wine is the
> > DRM (Digital Rights Management) that Slashdot
> > reported that Microsoft are going to add to Windows.
> >
> > If we implement it is Wine we are not trying to circumvent
> > it quite the opposite we are trying to to make it possible
> > enforce it. ;-)
> >
> > Of course a one line patch making a critical function
> > always return TRUE or something might be able to disable
> > it for people that don't like it. :-)
> DO IT!

I think we currently have other more important thing to do for Wine 1.0.

> What are they going to say, that because you can 
> change the code
> that you are aiding in circumventing copyright protection.  

It is actually much more intresting than that.

Let for arguments sake say that we do it they sue us and
the courts rule that it is legal.

In that case if the full implementation is legal what
about a partial implementation or a buggy implementation?

If we have a function CheckIfAllowed that are implemented
as FIXME("stub"); return TRUE will it make it a circumvention

What if CheckIfAllowed is incorrectly used (intentally or
by misstake) making things that are not authorized possible?

What if we have a full implementation and somebody distributes
a one line patch that disable any protection
Is that patch a circumvention device?

What if somebody says on the mailing list that if you make
CheckIfAllowed return TRUE it will disable the protected.
Is that _sentence_ a circumvention device?

What somebody says that it is really easy to disable just look
in the source code? Is that _sentence_ a circumvention device?

What if somebody writes a perl script that takes parts
of the Wine code and generates and compiles a tools
useful for circumvention. Is that perl script a
circumvention device?

The point that I'm trying to make is that if any program
that does Digital Rights Managagement is legal as open
source it is without any problem possible make a device
that circumvents these rights.

This is the logical problem with DMCA unless it is totally
draconian, ie everything even remotely related is forbidden,
it is almost useless since even with a arbitrary line somewhere
you can use whatever is legal and step by step, using steps that
are themselves legal transform it to something that are on the
other side of the arbitrary line.

If law was mathematics this would be sufficient proof that
DMCA is logical inconsistant since it would mean that
some actions were both legal and illegal.

In short no arbitrary line is possible either everything even
remotely related is illegal or nothing is illegal.

> If they go after
> you then you know for sure that they have the poorest of intentions.

Well, we already know that their only intention is more profit,
so this will not really help us derive anything new.

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