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ENGINEERS JOIN AMICUS BRIEF ASKING COURT TO FREE TECHNOLOGY OF ARTIFICIAL BOUNDARIES

 ENGINEERS JOIN AMICUS BRIEF ASKING COURT TO FREE TECHNOLOGY
 OF ARTIFICIAL BOUNDARIES
 WASHINGTON, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), the world's largest technical organization, said a U.S. court ruling in California -- if allowed to stand -- will stifle innovation and competition in the nation's computer software industry.
 The institute is joining an "amicus curiae" brief upholding the right of small entrepreneurs to manufacture and distribute software products developed through reverse engineering. The "friend of the court" brief, to be filed today in San Francisco by the American Committee for Inoperable Systems (ACIS), asks the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling which outlaws the practice.
 In Sega v. Accolade, a U.S. District Court held that any reproduction of a software work, including printing a single page of a decompiled computer code, is copyright infringement.
 "The disassembly of computer code for study, whether or not commercially motivated, is necessary for technological progress in software engineering," said Arvid G. Larson, a vice president of the IEEE and head of its U.S. policy arm, IEEE United States Activities. "We do not believe the courts should use sanctions of the copyright law to help computer equipment manufacturers lock 'unauthorized' software out of the equipment they sell to the public."
 Through a process of reverse engineering, independent producers frequently improve and extend existing software or produce new products by deducing the interface and operational characteristics of publicly available computer hardware and software. Without decompiling, the underlying ideas -- which are not subject to copyright -- cannot be readily obtained from the object code.
 Larson said prohibiting reverse engineering would stifle innovation and competition, producing a disastrous effect on the nation's fast-growing computer software industry. And he warned if U.S. Courts put a stop to reverse engineering, competitive products would still be developed overseas and imported for sale in this country. This would further weaken the United States' ability to compete in world markets.
 "Putting artificial boundaries on technology does not work," stated Larson. "All such boundaries do is cause a displacement of the work force."
 Today's action is only the fourth time since the IEEE was founded in 1884 that the global organization of technology engineers has filed an amicus brief. Previous issues have involved the ethics of employees, technology standards in an anti-trust case and the ownership of an invention.
 The IEEE, which has more than 320,000 members in over 145 countries, is a leading authority in areas ranging from aerospace, computers and communications to biomedical technology, electric power and consumer electronics. IEEE-U.S. Activities promotes the career and technology policy interests of nearly 250,000 electrical, electronics and computer engineers in the United States.
 -0- 6/15/92
 /CONTACT: Pender M. McCarter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 202-785-0017/ CO: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ST: District of Columbia, California IN: CPR SU:


KD -- DC021 -- 0333 06/15/92 16:50 EDT
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Date:Jun 15, 1992
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