EUCD and Belgian Software Law

Alceste Scalas tjoad at
Mon May 13 18:00:32 UTC 2002

On Sat, May 11, 2002 at 04:09:05PM +0200, Arnoud Galactus Engelfriet wrote:
    > Do you think there is a conflict between the 1991 Directive
    > and the current EUCD?

Well,   the  91/250/EEC   directive   gives  users   the  right   to
reverse-engineer a computer  program for interoperability (article 5
and 6).  This should make  it legal to reverse-engineer _every_ kind
of  software ---  for example,  a piece  of code  that  "protects" a
copyrighted work, just like an e-book.

The EUCD was written to make the latter kind of activity illegal ---
and,  of  course,  it contains  a  bit  of  trickery to  forbid  the
reverse-engineering  of "effective technological  measures," without
formally conflicting with the 91/250/EEC directive.  More in detail:

    * at the beginning (paragraph 50) it is said that the 91/250/EEC
      directive  still   applies  to  computer   programs:  you  can
      circumvent a "technological measure"  if it protects a program
      that you want to reverse-engineer;

    * but what happens when a "technological measure" is not applied
      to programs,  but to other copyrighted  works?  Paragraphs 6.1
      and 6.2  say that it is  illegal to circumvent  it and/or help
      other people to do the same;

    * finally, paragraph 6.3  defines these "technological measures"
      in a way  that is not strictly related  to software.  It makes
      the 91/250/EEC directive irrelevant,  and you are forbidden to
      reverse-engineer a "technological measure"  when it is used to
      protect, for example, a DVD, or an e-book.


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