This post was first published on September 24, 2014.
Shoppers would agree with me when I say that while purchasing something, I need to feel a connect with it. Once I have found that connection, a feeling of possession sets in and I know that the article, which until recently was only lying in a shop somewhere, is now mine. This feeling of possession of an inanimate article may lead us to believe that anything can be done to it, which would legally be termed as personal property rights. These include the right to take the product apart, measure it, subject it to testing and so on. A question now arises – Can we Reverse Engineer and use something that has been engineered by someone else?
The controversy between Atari and Nintendo lays down most of the pre-Digital Millennium Copyright Act framework for the legal analysis of Reverse Engineering. In the late 1980s, the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a major player in the video games market. The security mechanism on the NES, called 10-NES, prevented games from running on the system unless they contained a special chip and software. This security mechanism was used by Nintendo to push game developers into licensing contracts.