Clean room reverse engineering

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Fri Dec 4 13:03:31 UTC 2009

Johannes Buchner wrote:
>> Vlad Stanimir <vladbv2006 at> writes:
>>> I was considering a clean room reverse engineering project of a
>>> proprietary computer game, but i am unsure of the legality of doing
>>> this especially of things like game maps and storyline.
> This page doesn't talk about software. Isn't copyright and trademarks
> the real issues of game clones?

Plagiarism is not a legal issue at all, but an ethical one.  I would
agree that copyrights and trademarks are the real issues here.

> has the paragraph: 
>    "Software can be cloned by reverse engineering or legal
> reimplementation from documentation or other sources, or by observing a
> program's appearance and behavior. The reasons for cloning may include
> circumventing undesirable licensing fees or acquiring knowledge about
> the features of the system. In the United States, the case of Lotus v.
> Borland allows programmers to clone the public functionality of a
> program without infringing its copyright."
> If you intend to just reuse the idea, without using any original
> material, that may be legal in some countries. IANAL.

I don't think Lotus v. Borland is very relevant.  It dealt mainly with
menu hierarchies, which is a far cry from plots and cartography (more
traditional creative endeavors).

IANAL, and Vlad should consider seeking one.

Matt Flaschen

More information about the License-discuss mailing list