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Lars I. Nielsen (GisPro) wrote:They can and they do. And if enough money is involved then usually it's
> Bill Thoen skrev:
>> Lars I. Nielsen (GisPro) wrote:
>>> Bill Thoen skrev:
>>>> Gentreau wrote:
>>>>> Before reverse engineering a file format, it may be wise to check
>>>>> whether it
>>>>> is somebody's intellectual property and legally protected /
>>>> I don't believe that you can protect a file _format_; only the
>>>> contents. (..)
>>> I disagree. The specs of a file format is an invention, and as such
>>> it's protectable. The content may also be protectable, as it
>>> represents a commercial value.
>> No, it's not. Check this out:
>> http://www.fileformat.info/mirror/egff/ch08_09.htm. And the Feist
>> case even shot down the 'commercial value' argument, much to my
> Well, a lawyer could make a case even against common sense, I'm sure.
> But the case at hand is not as simple as the page you give leads one
> to think.
'money talks and suckers walk' because new law is decided by debate and
precedent, and you need to spend a lot to get the sort of legal talent
who win arguments and can find favorable past cases. Good law isn't
discovered whole and ready to apply. It's made up as we go along, and
it's not always made from morally motivated or informed sources. If you
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look --even casually-- at case decisions over IP law pertaining to
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software and digital data, you can see that it's all over the place.
A EULA, for example, is just so much carved smoke. It's an operational
definition of a reality that doesn't exist anywhere but in the
imagination. You can put anything you want into one defining terms and
conditions like 'Thou shalt not reverse engineer this Digital Work' or
'Even though Thou hast paid Good Money for thy Software, 'Tis not thine,
Thou dost not own it nor the disc it rode in on.'
If you want to use software or data that first requires your consent to
a legal agreement with clauses like that in it then you also have to
accept a certain amount of outside control over your business or
computer activity. It means I can't (legally) look into software that
will be operating in my environment to make sure there is no 'phone
home' feature that reports selected information back to its maker. It
means I can't put copies of it on all my computers so that I can use
whichever one I please. It means that I agree that the vendor has a
legal right to snatch it out from under me at any time.
Since I'm a software developer myself I understand the other side of the
problem, and it is a tricky one. I wouldn't want anyone to reverse
engineer software or data that I sold ..er, /leased/ to them, but I'm
not sure that I should have any legal right to enforce that. That's one
reason why I usually include or make available source code to what I
sell. IMHO, an owner of a business (or even just a computer) has more
reasons and rights to know what's in a software package that will run
inside their domain than any vendor has for keeping them from looking.
- Bill Thoen
GISnet - www.gisnet.com
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