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Analysis of the legality of "reverse engineering" of computer programs under the copyright designs and patents act 1988 : an approach for the future

Analysis of the legality of "reverse engineering" of computer programs under the copyright designs and patents act 1988 : an approach for the future
Analysis of the legality of "reverse engineering" of computer programs under the copyright designs and patents act 1988 : an approach for the future

This thesis analyses the legality of “reverse engineering” under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and suggests a new way to consider the legality of reverse engineering. The thesis submits that current copyright law misconceives the principle of software engineering and, as a result, fails to differentiate the process of reverse engineering from that of forward engineering. Such a conceptual misunderstanding creates commercial problems in the software industries and other industries which rely on the use of software technology.

As a means of solving the problems, this thesis suggests that these two processes should be separated from each other so that the legal status of each one is considered on its own merits. The thesis proposes that “reverse engineering”, and the steps leading to the completion of a finished product, i.e., “forward engineering”, should not be an infringement of copyright.  Rather, infringement should be determined by a comparison of the finished product with the original product.  Comparison of the two products will create a more open creative environment for the exploitation of ideas, and stimulate greater encouragement of competition in the software market.

Also examined is the impact of the framework proposed in this thesis on three main related areas of law, namely the law of confidence, patent law and competition law. The thesis shows that the proposed framework will not have an adverse impact on these areas. The author believes that this thesis is the first to introduce a new way of perceiving and solving the problems of the legality of reverse engineering as well as analysing the impact of the proposed framework on related areas of law.

University of Southampton
Ekkayokkaya, Tanaphot
Ekkayokkaya, Tanaphot

Ekkayokkaya, Tanaphot (2001) Analysis of the legality of "reverse engineering" of computer programs under the copyright designs and patents act 1988 : an approach for the future. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis analyses the legality of “reverse engineering” under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and suggests a new way to consider the legality of reverse engineering. The thesis submits that current copyright law misconceives the principle of software engineering and, as a result, fails to differentiate the process of reverse engineering from that of forward engineering. Such a conceptual misunderstanding creates commercial problems in the software industries and other industries which rely on the use of software technology.

As a means of solving the problems, this thesis suggests that these two processes should be separated from each other so that the legal status of each one is considered on its own merits. The thesis proposes that “reverse engineering”, and the steps leading to the completion of a finished product, i.e., “forward engineering”, should not be an infringement of copyright.  Rather, infringement should be determined by a comparison of the finished product with the original product.  Comparison of the two products will create a more open creative environment for the exploitation of ideas, and stimulate greater encouragement of competition in the software market.

Also examined is the impact of the framework proposed in this thesis on three main related areas of law, namely the law of confidence, patent law and competition law. The thesis shows that the proposed framework will not have an adverse impact on these areas. The author believes that this thesis is the first to introduce a new way of perceiving and solving the problems of the legality of reverse engineering as well as analysing the impact of the proposed framework on related areas of law.

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Published date: 2001

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Local EPrints ID: 464967
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/464967
PURE UUID: 572167e7-c8c9-4089-899f-543143ee6ba4

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 00:14
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 03:47

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Contributors

Author: Tanaphot Ekkayokkaya

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