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Reverse-Engineering Someone Else's Software: Is It Legal?
January/February 1990 (vol. 7 no. 1)
pp. 90-96

The author covers the legal issues of reverse-engineering someone else's software, explaining what reverse-engineering activities the courts have found to be acceptable and what legal applications are for the knowledge you gained from reverse engineering. She also defines 'reverse engineering' and presents two theories regarding its use: the strict-constructionist theory, which holds that reverse-engineering copyrighted software is always illegal, and the pragmatist theory, which takes a much more liberal view of the fair-use privilege.

Index Terms:
reverse-engineering; legal applications; strict-constructionist theory; copyrighted software; pragmatist theory; fair-use; industrial property; legislation; software engineering
Citation:
Pamela Samuelson, "Reverse-Engineering Someone Else's Software: Is It Legal?," IEEE Software, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 90-96, Jan.-Feb. 1990, doi:10.1109/52.43054
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