Re: openbkweb-0.0

From: David Lang (
Date: Sat Feb 15 2003 - 04:46:15 EST

On Sat, 15 Feb 2003, Adrian Bunk wrote:

> Current German copyright law says you are allowed to reverse engineer
> under certain circumstances a program you are a licensee of to produce
> independent programs that interoperate with this proprietary program.
> Otherwise it would often be impossible to develop software like Samba
> that has to interoperate with proprietary products - how easy would it
> be to forbid something like this in the licence terms of the proprietary
> program. Since the licensee is often in a very weak position compared to
> the company selling the software current German copyright law says that
> any contractual appointments that disallow the allowed cases of reverse
> engineering are void.

Adrian, the key point here is that you are allowed to reverse engineer
anything you are a licensee of.

I'll bet there are also laws preventing a company from refusing to sell a
copy of whatever to someone who would reverse engineer it.

however there's nothing that states that a company that gives free copies
of whatever to a charity they must give a free copy to people who want to
reverse engineer it.

in the case of bitkeeper the 'charity' is opensource software.

Larry will (and probably must) sell a license to whoever wants one and the
most he can do is to refuse to give you any discount above his published
standard rates. Larry does not have to give you a copy of it for free for
the purpose of you reverse engineering it.

under the law you are allowed to reverse engineer anything you have a
legal license to. unless you give bitmover money you do not automaticaly
have a legal license to use bitkeeper if you work on a version control
package or for a company that does. Larry has shown by his actions that he
is willing to make additional licenses available for free in many cases
(all the folks working for redhat who are useing bitkeeper are proof of

yes Larry is being a bit paranoid, but you have to admit that judging from
the posts on the subject there are a lot of people out to get him :-)

David Lang
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