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Australia Endorses Reverse Engineering, Emulators.

After having been the driving force behind Australia's net censorship legislation, Federal Minister Richard Alston must have been relieved to announce a piece of legislation that won't infuriate the country's technology sector. Australia's Copyright Amendment (Computer Programs) Bill 1999 will allow software engineers to decompile computer software in limited circumstances so they can develop interoperable products. At present, copyright owners can block such reverse engineering on the grounds that it infringes their copyright. Because such decompilation forms part of the work that needs to be done to address the year 2000 problem, the legislation is backdated to February 23, 1999.

Don't be too hasty to unpick Windows NT, however. The legislation specifies that reverse engineering without the copyright owner's permission is only allowed where information on the program's interfaces or ensuring system security is not readily available. What's more, if you use or communicate information thus gleaned for any purpose other than the fix Y2K or security holes, the severe penalties for copyright piracy will continue to apply. That's $60,500 and/or five years in prison for each offense by an individual, and $302,500 for each offense by a corporation. Never let it be said that the Australian government wants to encourage programmers' curiosity.
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Publication:Computergram International
Date:Aug 16, 1999
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