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sharpnova

Legality of Decompilation

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Is it legal to decompile code? Specifically flash code. 1. Is it legal to decompile it? 2. Is it legal to decompile, change, and recompile it? 3. Is it legal to decompile, change, recompile, and share it? 4. It it legal to do #3 and make $ doing so? I've recently had a flash game I wrote taken, decompiled and had Ebaums watermark put on it and the game thrown up on his website without my permission. Since it's obvious he's making money off of it I really doubt it's legal. If it's actually illegal, do I have any real recourse? I have contacted them and was told some nonsense about sharing and open developement. It sounded like garbage to me because I'm not making any of the revenue my game is generating.

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Assuming your statement is correct :)

Unless you've specifically released it to the public domain, you retain copyright. That means you retain the right to control distribution of it, and any subsequent products. Note that I'm not a lawyer.

Is it illegal to decompile it?
Potentially, though fraught with issues. Under DMCA, circumventing a copy-protection systems is a crime. It's a grey area, though.. especially when it comes to decompilation (which isn't really a DRM system), and it's even fuzzier outside the US.

By recompiling and sharing it, they're essentially creating a Derivative work , which is a sole right reserved for you as the copyright owner.

They might argue that this is Fair Use . There's 4 primary factors that determine this:


Purpose : Why are they doing this? If the use was educational or editorial in nature, they could argue fair use, but in this case it's clearly profit based. That weighs against fair-use.

Nature : What type of content is shared? In this case it's a creative work, which means it's following a more narrow Fair Use intepretation.

Amount : How much of your game is being reused? In this case all of it, so it's not very fair..

Market Effect : What's the damage to you? In this case quite high; he's offering it for profit, on a higher profile site. This will cause you both monetary damage, as well as damage to your reputation (people will assume that YOU are the culprit, not him).

He's also misrepresenting copyright ownership (by slapping his own watermark on it), which is quite bad.

So... hopefully you've got a paper-trail (backup versions, intermediate stage developments, ideally proof that your game was up before his, etc). Sounds like you should contact a lawyer. Any legal advice encountered on a web-forum isn't worth the money you paid for it :)

Allan

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Quote:
Original post by sharpnova
1. Is it legal to decompile it?


It depends on the license under which the SWF file is distributed.

Quote:
2. Is it legal to decompile, change, and recompile it?


It depends on the license under which the SWF file is distributed.

Quote:
3. Is it legal to decompile, change, recompile, and share it?


It depends on the license under which the SWF file is distributed.

Quote:
4. It it legal to do #3 and make $ doing so?


It depends on the license under which the SWF file is distributed.

Quote:
I've recently had a flash game I wrote taken, decompiled and had Ebaums watermark put on it and the game thrown up on his website without my permission. Since it's obvious he's making money off of it I really doubt it's legal.


What license did you distribute the SWF file under? Did it release the game contents into the public domain or some equivalent approach?

Quote:
If it's actually illegal, do I have any real recourse? I have contacted them and was told some nonsense about sharing and open developement. It sounded like garbage to me because I'm not making any of the revenue my game is generating.


Get a lawyer.



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Quote:
Original post by sharpnova
I've recently had a flash game I wrote taken, decompiled and had Ebaums watermark put on it and the game thrown up on his website without my permission. Since it's obvious he's making money off of it I really doubt it's legal.

If it's actually illegal, do I have any real recourse? I have contacted them and was told some nonsense about sharing and open developement. It sounded like garbage to me because I'm not making any of the revenue my game is generating.

Don't listen to any of their bull. This is the M.O. of Ebaum's World, and you're not the first person that they've pulled it on. If I were you I would watch this informative video, and call up your favourite team of lawyers. (Seriously.)

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Agreed, what they have done is breach of copyright. Getting a lawyer involved would be pretty expensive so the next best thing would be to contact their ISP/Hosting company and inform them that you own the copyright and that you will take action against them for distributing it if it isn't removed within 14 days. You will need to provide some evidence (link to the original file).

If you want me to take a look at their email to you and give you some pointers drop me a PM.

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Obscure: Ebaumsworld.com does this all the time. I'm fairly certain that their ISP keeps at least one lawyer on speed dial from others trying this. Getting a lawyer may be expensive but with that site you don't have much choice but to go for the jugular.

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