[sane-devel] Is reverse engineering legal ?

Jochen Eisinger jochen at penguin-breeder.org
Fri Aug 5 17:03:06 UTC 2005


a third opinion... it is legal (in europe) to analyze (that is, not
decompile) a program, for the purpose of developing a interoperable
program (but not a competiting program).

On the other hand, there are doubts that a cleanroom solution as
Johannes suggested is legal, because it doesn't restrict what for you
develop the program and how you obtain the information (e.g. you could
decompile the program in the cleanroom and then write a competiting

As for scanner drivers, I'd say it is safe to analyze the protocol and
write a GPL'ed SANE backend for it, because you don't even look at the
windows drivers code (so it's just analysis of the functionality), and
the SANE driver does not really compete with a windows driver (it's just
ment to ensure interoperability of the OS and the hardware).

I'm no lawyer as well, just my 2 cents. Asking the company selling the
scanner sometimes helps. In the best case, they provide you with
information about the scanner, in the worst case they tell you whether
they'd take legal steps against you or not :)

In my experience, they silently ignore you, if they don't care whether
there is a SANE driver or not.

kind regards
-- jochen

More information about the sane-devel mailing list