[alsa-devel] Creative Soundblaster X-Fi

Tim Laszlo tim.laszlo at gmail.com
Fri Jun 29 21:58:59 CEST 2007

On 6/29/07, Ash Willis <ashwillis at programmer.net> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Sorry for straying a little off topic, but talk of these couple of chips
> got me
> thinking about unsupported hardware in general.
> Does anyone know the legal implications of reverse engineering with
> regards to
> producing new drivers? I myself wouldn't mind reversing a certain chip or
> two
> but I'm not too aware of the legality of it all, particularly in the case
> where
> the vendor is hostile or unwilling to release chip information.
> In general, is it legally acceptable to reverse engineer for the purposes
> of
> interoperability?
> Are vendors likely to make a noise if their hardware gains support under
> Linux
> without or against their consent? or is it more a matter of protecting the
> original product specification than hiding details of the product's
> interface?
> Takashi, may I ask your thoughts on this? What's your position on
> accepting
> reverse engineered code? (Let's assume that the driver works as well as
> one
> written in a more correct manner ;))
> I'm fully aware that uncooperative vendors don't deserve to have their
> hardware
> supported, but I think that Linux users and Linux itself deserves the
> support.
> Ash
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I've wondered the same thing..  It seems to be legal (at least in the US)
under fair use,
although you aren't allowed to circumvent protection. Samba and wine are
some good
examples of projects based on reverse engineered code.  I read somewhere
you still have to watch for patents.

I could be very wrong... but it seems to be ok.


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