Reverse engineering court decision

Patrik Stridvall ps at
Tue Feb 6 17:57:10 CST 2001

> Patrik, that was probably one of the most well-written 
> arguments I have
> heard against the DMCA.  

Thank you, my immidiate reaction when proof reading it was
that it was not entirely clear but I didn't feel I had time
to improve it more.

The arguement is not really water tight it assumes that you
legally can reverse engineer, implement and publish an existing
Digital Rights Managagement scheme.

All of this is possible because of the duality between the
rights management and circumvention. Any attempt to partition
the set of devices in two parts will fail since you mathematically
will be able to prove that they are equal and thus the arbitrary
line chosen in the beginning doesn't really exist.

However note that there are three solutions to the problem.
1. The DMCA protects nothing and are totally meaningless.
2. The DMCA are logically inconsistant and thereby null and void.
3. The DMCA will forbid digital rights management without
   authorization as well.

The only thing that can save you is if you can pry a crack
in it somewhere by find some kind of allowed digital rights
management or circumvention because of some other reason,
like constitional issues.

If you even have one crack, then only possible case is 1,
because of the reason given above.

Note that 3 would mean that making an exact copy of some a device
will be illegal if it contained any kind of digital right mangagement,
thereby granting it a perpetual patent protection if it was hardware
alternativly perpetual copyright protection if it was software.

This kind of argument are not really new, however the arguments
I have seen used it when talking about protected works.
I'm talking about _devices_ that are authorized to "play" such works.

Not being an expert on constitional issues I will say nothing more
than that I think it would be unlikely that it is not so.

> Too bad probably only Wine 
> developers will see it.

I don't think it would be a useful argument to
use in court it is much to abstract for normal
Judges to understand.

Better stick to constitional issue I think.

> Ever thought of becoming a lawyer? ;-)

No, I hate lawyers. :-)

BTW, concerning reverse engineering any law against reverse
engineering will have similar logical problems as DMCA since if
some things are legal to reverse engineer it will be possible to
using a similar step by step method transform this to something
of the other side of any arbitrary line.

Fortunately no such law exists AFAIK.

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