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Re: DVD legal maneuvers



David Wagner writes, quoting anon:

> > The dirty names are because you promised when you received the software
> > to honor certain conditions.
>
> Nonsense.  No I didn't.
>
> What makes you think that one must agree to honor the software when one buys
> it?  I sure don't make any such agreements when I buy software.
>
> Sure, I might be bound not to reverse engineer if I click on a click-through
> license, but if I wanted to reverse engineer some software, why on earth would
> I ever click on such a license?  Remember, the software is readily available
> for reverse engineering even before anyone clicks on the license.

Let's go back to the original "dirty names" post:

: In particular, if software is distributed only with the condition that
: reverse engineering is disallowed, then recipients are bound by that
: restriction, according to the principles of contract.  Anyone who argues
: that he has an inalienable right to reverse engineer any software he
: comes across is a criminal.  He is a liar, cheat, and scoundrel.  He is
: a fraud and contract breaker.  He pledges his word in order to receive
: valuable software from another, and then breaks his promise for his own
: convenience and benefit.

It should be clear from the context that this refers to someone who
believes that he has the inalienable right to reverse engineer any
software, even if he has explicitly agreed to a condition that it not be
reverse engineered.  There are a great many people who take this position,
believing that statements by governments can make their promise to abide
by the contract terms inoperative.

Of course if there was no such contract and no such agreement, then the
issue does not arise.

It sounds like you agree that someone who accepts a no-reverse-engineering
clause in the license is wrong to reverse engineer it, even if a
government says it is OK.  Perhaps you would even agree that he is a liar,
cheat, fraud, etc., all the dirty names.

The question then arises with the DeCSS software, did the reverse engineer
agree with the license:

> There is no evidence, in this case, that the folks who reverse engineered the
> DVD software ever agreed not to do so.  Do you have any evidence?

Two pieces of evidence:  First, apparently the Xing software does, in
its normal installation, offer the license agreement.  This is where the
anti-reverse-engineering provision would be located.  Since this is the
normal case on install, the initial presumption is that this would have
been displayed to the reverse engineer.

Second, no one involved with the effort has made any claims not to have
seen the license agreement.  Instead it has been argued that Norwegian
law explicitly forbids anti-reverse-engineering clauses.  They would
probably not use this excuse if the stronger one was available of not
having accepted the contract.

These are far from conclusive, but let us look at the big picture.
We agree that IF the software was reverse engineered in violation of
an agreed-upon license, that would be wrong.  We don't know for sure at
this point whether that happened, but it is at least very plausible that
it did.  What is the appropriate response?

The wrong answer is to go into court and vociferously defend the rights
of people of the world to reverse engineer and freely distribute any
software they want, despite their contractual agreements.  This is the
response which has been urged upon cypherpunks in earlier messages.

The right answer is to say, we have a problem here.  This may be stolen
property, and before supporting its distribution we must stop and
investigate to see whether there is a legitimate source for this software.

But to get to that point we must first reach agreement on the general
philosophical issue that reverse engineering in contravention to a
license agreement is wrong, by the principles which most readers of this
forum agree upon.  Hopefully this will begin to be accepted, and a more
thoughtful cypherpunk response to the DVD controversy will be developed.