• Forum
  • Lounge
  • Legality of reverse engineering of datab

Legality of reverse engineering of database file specification

I wanna write free and open source Disk Catlog program like WhereIsIt.Usually files from WhereIsIt are exported to xml and some programs as WinCatalog uses this xml. But export is time consumpting and I think about reverse engineering of CTF files which are used as catalog database. It will legal?
In https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Reverse_Engineering/Legal_Aspects we have read:
"those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs".
First I am planning publish repository with desription about CTF in markdown file and converter CTF to XML.
Last edited on
Where do you live?
What about this question?
Last edited on

How can anyone suggest legal advice without knowing where you live?

But anyway, if you want legal assistance it would be better to ask a legal practitioner than a C++ forum.
I don't think it matters if it's legal or not if you don't get caught ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
did you check carefully to see if its been done or actually published by the creator?
I am from Poland, but specification would be world wide. I'm not afraid to be caught but pretensions of autor that competitive project is parasites on the original.
I think, I let go and only publsh my new open specification.
pretensions of autor that competitive project is parasites on the original.
Well, every non-IBM (or lenovo) PC ever created is a "parasite on the original" IBM-PC.

I'm not a lawyer, but it's my understanding that in the US, reverse engineering is legal. Exactly how this applies to a file format is a different story. Maybe it's no big deal, maybe a file format can be copyrighted. As Grey Wolf said, you should consult a lawyer.

Business is a dog-eat-dog world. Companies put each other out of business all the time. Don't worry about what the author thinks. Worry about that's legal.
The key is what is copyright protected.

Any database that has name, address and phone number can't be considered a unique, copyright protected format.

On the other hand, consider formats you know are protected. Things like video compression formats, etc.

I know, you're thinking, what does a database format have to do with that?

Well, some are covered by patents. Some are covered by copyright.

Most are rather standard stuff. If you discover something in the format that is rather unique, it is probably protected and you could find out through legal inquiry.

On the other hand, if you look at a format that shows the colors of pixels in RGB, you're not invading any intellectual property.

One thing that CAN catch you, if you engineer an exact implementation of the database in order to assume connection to it (like transfer of files). That gets a tad dicey.

That said, if it's SQL - you know they just give you the format by asking SQL, right?
Well, if it's patented there's no need to reverse engineer it. The details of the implementation should be in the patent application.
On the other hand, in some countries software patents don't exist, so that's worth checking out.
Registered users can post here. Sign in or register to post.