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[dvd-discuss] SCC, Lexmark, and copyright versus reverse-engineering

	In the court's decision, there doesn't seem to be much dispute
that in *theory*, other downloadable programs could be written that
performed the same operations as Lexmark's programs. The difficulty is
knowing the details of the program and operating environment, in the
first place.

	I've done reverse-engineering (in fact, once long ago for a
printer-cloner). My joke about the process, is that you can't call up
technical support, and ask them about aspects you don't understand.

	In this case, all you'd be able to observe easily, would be a
string of bytes going from the printer cartridge to the printer
itself. What do the bytes do? No idea. The most *compatible* action is
simply to reproduce the exact same string of bytes.

	The court then says, roughly, "Aha! Those bytes were a
copyrighted program! So reproducing them is copyright infringement.
You *could*, in *theory*, write a different program - so no merger
doctrine for you!"

	The practical difficulties of writing such a different
program, in a context where one has no idea of the language or the
details of its use, are explicitly ruled irrelevant by the court.

Seth Finkelstein  Consulting Programmer  sethf@sethf.com  http://sethf.com
Anticensorware Investigations - http://sethf.com/anticensorware/
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog - http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/