Reactionist wrote:I could've accepted your criticism unequivocally but just for one thing: reverse engineering with a view to making the sources public is 100% illegal likewise. You may legally reverse engineer exclusively to educate your own self. Educating others and/or making your means for reverse engineering a particular copyrighted program available to others is 100% illegal too. I don't know where you come from but were it the Unated States you should be waiting for the law knocking at your door any time soon, given your "reverse engineering" here and the GNU GPL license and open-sourcing elsewhere throughout the rest of this site. So be careful with the term "reverse engineering" in your casual speech on public forums.
Nope, you're wrong. It is absolutely legal to create a program with identical functionality to or compatibility with another closed source program. If you're typing your posts on a PC that wasn't made by IBM (or Lenovo), you just proved that clean room reverse engineering is legal in the US! Phoenix Technologies successfully clean room reverse engineered the PC BIOS back in the 1980s. Because it was created with no knowledge of the IBM PC BIOS source code, the resulting Phoenix BIOS was different from the IBM code, but operated identically. Because they used a clean room technique, even if some sections of code did happen to be accidentally identical, there was no copyright infringement. Phoenix was legally able to sell its BIOS to companies like Compaq, and the market was soon flooded with IBM-compatible PCs (i.e. "clones") and there was nothing IBM could do about it. Of course, long before the IBM PC came along, Zilog reverse engineered Intel's 8080 processor and made a fortune selling 8080-compatible Z80 processors. The Z80 (and CP/M, whose BIOS calls were later reverse engineered by Tim Paterson in a little product that later became MS-DOS) virtually created the personal computer market that IBM later cashed in on, so anyone who owns a computer owes a debt to the legal reverse engineering of both software and CPU instruction sets.
Since ReactOS's source code was created with no knowledge of Microsoft's copyrighted source code, it is legal for ReactOS to be open source. ReactOS is a program that does what Windows does, just like a Dell is a computer whose BIOS does what an IBM computer's BIOS does. It's perfectly legal for LibreOffice to be compatible with Microsoft Word documents, and for 7-Zip to be compatible with PKZIP archives. The MAME project hasn't gotten into any trouble for reverse engineering the hundreds of arcade platforms that MAME emulates, the MESS project hasn't gotten into any trouble for reverse engineering the hundreds of computer platforms that MESS emulates, the Wine project hasn't gotten in any trouble for reverse engineering the Windows API, and it's equally legal for ReactOS to reverse engineer the Windows kernel.
If the police were coming, they would have come about 10 years ago. Suffice it to say that ReactOS has worked very hard to ensure that all of its activities are legal. There are already many threads where this is explained, and yes, this is off-topic, but you made a blatantly false statement about the legality of the ReactOS project and it needed to be corrected. To learn more, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_room_design
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_en ... f_software
, or consult a copyright lawyer.
Indeed. Theoretically, one could write a book of 1000 pages independently, and even if it would turn out to be exactly the same as an already existing book, it could still not be considered copyright-infringement - if one truly had written it from scratch without prior knowledge. Such a thing would be next to impossible, of course, seen the extremely slim chance of creating a verbatim copy pure at random/chance. But the point is, if you write something of your own, it isn't copyright-infringement if you really wrote it yourself (and can prove it too), even if it's the same as something else.
Reverse engineering is, of course, not a random process, but it's allowed in most Western countries in some form - including the US and Europe.
Patents, however, are something else. I'm not sure how well-guarded Reactos is against softwarepatents? It's not a problem (yet) in Europe, since softwarepatents there are in a legal limbo and very from country to country, and are seldom trying to be enforced (because in many cases, it's stroked down), but in the US it's a real pain in the ass. Even 'business ideas' can be patented, there. Patents are also much broader than copyright, and even if Reactos came by it totally on its own, if it breaches a patent, it still could be sued, even though the underlying code was reversed engineered or even completely original.
I've actually been wondering about that myself. If XP has several patents covering it, and reactos wants to be a clone; wouldn't it also breach those patents? One could maybe circumvent and try workarounds, but the more one does that, the more one deviates from the original, with all possible (in)compatibility-issues as a result.