Questions tagged [software]

For questions involving programming underlying computers and machines. Consider using the [open-source-software] tag if the question is about open source software or licensing.

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42
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2answers
15k views

Is it illegal to backup your hard drive if you have copyrighted software on it?

Is it illegal if you create a backup of an HDD that has copyrighted software installed on it? This could be anything from legally purchased games and or expensive popular graphics/video editing ...
36
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3answers
29k views

Is it legal to crack MD5 hashes?

I saw a website that involves programming problems. One problem asks to write a program that finds a string whose MD5 hash is given. Is it criminal to crack the MD5 hash by finding those strings?
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3answers
8k views

Can an open source licence be revoked if it violates employer's IP?

Suppose a developer's contract says that all intellectual property (IP) rights to her code belong to her UK employer. While employed, she develops a library and open-sources it under the Apache 2.0 ...
28
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4answers
5k views

If mathematical equations are not patentable, why are algorithms patentable?

I'm new to the domain of understanding the law behind patenting, and I want to start a company that uses machine learning algorithms. Unfortunately, almost every concept is patented by the top ...
26
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4answers
10k views

Is it legal to track users of pirated software?

I'm making a piece of software right now, and I'm just doing it in my free time, so I'm not too serious about it. I want to make a version of the software and put a tracker in it that interfaces with ...
23
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3answers
10k views

How to mitigate the risk of getting sued by clients (web dev contracting)

I'm a web dev and I'm thinking about becoming a contractor. I feel a little uneasy about the possibility of someone potentially trying to sue me. If, for example, a client wants an e-commerce website ...
20
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4answers
7k views

Can I sue an app for enabling harassment?

Can I sue an app for emotional distress? My soon-to-be ex-husband has been using a fake phone number app in order to impersonate: my child's school the coroner's office the police officers who are ...
20
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4answers
9k views

Using private software at work

Lets assume there is a piece of software I would love to use while programming at work. My company will not buy it (or it will take months before it goes through bureaucratic wall). Can I purchase it ...
16
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2answers
17k views

Windows 10 Eula Privacy Rights

Many are claiming that Windows 10's data collection is much more invasive than previous Microsoft products, even claiming that Windows 10 ships with a keylogger and reports every keystroke back to ...
16
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1answer
1k views

Can a spyware or a virus act legally with EULA?

Lets think there is a virus that acts like a software. Its acting like a regular software. It's installation is visible to user and again like a regular software, it asks user to accept its End-user ...
15
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2answers
3k views

Is there any difference in meaning between the Boost and MIT software licenses?

MIT The MIT License (MIT) Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders> Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and ...
14
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1answer
3k views

Can U.S. Tax Forms Be Legally HTMLified?

If I want to have a U.S. government tax form, like a W-9, be able to be filled out on my website, can I convert it to html (so that it looks as identical as possible to the original form), have the ...
14
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6answers
1k views

Can one take BSD licensed code and distribute it under GPL?

Prompted by https://opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/304/can-i-take-bsd-licensed-code-and-distribute-it-under-gpl. The OP asks: Can I take code which is licensed under a permissive open ...
12
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2answers
633 views

Is it piracy to obtain software you purchased in an alternate way?

Lets say you purchased software in the 90s or early 2000s, but lost the license key and or the disc. Another possibility is the company is no longer supporting and or does not provide older versions ...
12
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1answer
1k views

Is WINE illegal?

Is WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator) illegal? Given that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has held in Oracle v. Google that APIs are copyrightable, is WINE (which reproduces the Windows ...
11
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2answers
847 views

At what point can a computer-generated file infringe copyright?

In general it is illegal to download a copyrighted file without paying the copyright owner. But is having metadata (hash) of the copyrighted material legal? What if I've run a program (like Mathgen)...
10
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2answers
685 views

Who owns the code when my employer wants something similar to my existing open source project?

I have a similar situation to this question. My employer hired me knowing that I work on some open source projects, but for a long time, showed no interest in my open source projects. Now they want ...
9
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2answers
758 views

Can my school force me to use applications or a school-issued computer if I do not agree with the terms of use for that application?

Can my school force me to use applications or a school-issued computer if I do not agree with the terms of use for that application? I do not trust most of the applications that my school requires me ...
9
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2answers
434 views

Can I work on patent-infringing software in private, then release it when said patent expires?

This is not a scenario I'm actually going through; this is just a thought I had. The situation proposed in this question is entirely hypothetical. Suppose some algorithm -- for this post, let's say ...
9
votes
1answer
776 views

Can a person be prosecuted for unknowingly possessing illegal computer files?

Today there was a news article that claims researchers have found illegal files embedded in the Bitcoin blockchain. This is a large database-type file that contains a list of all the Bitcoin ...
9
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2answers
231 views

At what point and how should I change the license/Copyright notice when I create a derivative?

If I take a piece of software that is licensed as MIT (quoted at the end), and use it as a scaffold to create for my own thing, do I need to keep including the old license perpetually? This would seem ...
8
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2answers
300 views

Can I sell computer source code that I reuse in other applications that I still sell?

I have several different versions of the same software (written in .Net/WPF) that interact with different brands of hardware. I decided to discontinue one of the platforms. The company that sells the ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Can I bundle MIT licensed components in a Apache 2.0 licensed project?

I am creating a project that I would like to open source and license under the Apache 2.0 License. The project will come with a bundled version of an open source component which is licensed under the ...
8
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1answer
2k views

Is it legal to sell zero-day exploits?

Can someone who discovered a zero-day exploit in a program sell the information, and does the applicable jurisdiction depend on his location, the buyer location, the location of the developed of the ...
8
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1answer
303 views

Is “expiring” business software considered sabotage?

I developed a software system for my employer. Because this was outside my job description the owner agreed to pay me monthly to maintain the system. Because I knew the owner had a tendency not to ...
7
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2answers
2k views

What to do after an employee leaked our algorithm?

One of my company's internally developed algorithms was published online. It's a complex algorithm that took years to develop, I have a pretty good idea of which employee leaked it based on the team ...
7
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4answers
377 views

Do I have the right to get a copy of the source code I wrote during an internship? (Germany)

I did an internship in a small software company in Germany and wrote mainly two programs, one which is just an example to learn the language which has no monetary value and another one which could be ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Is it even possible to use the Google Maps API without violating their terms of use?

I went to the Google Maps API terms of use page and scrolled down and found section at 10.5f, which read: No incorporating Google software into other software. You will not incorporate any ...
7
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1answer
279 views

Is it legal to sell Wikipedia data?

I can see it is legal to sell their "free" content, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Buying_Wikipedia_articles_in_print_or_another_form Can the same be argued for their non-content data? ...
7
votes
1answer
212 views

What's the validity of different versions of Terms of Service (Software, Web)

Many people sit around and nitpick about wording that's added or subtracted. They have many terms for this but its essentially everything they get you to agree before they allow you to use a web ...
6
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4answers
4k views

How is the cost of a software service determined?

I just went through a Compliance eLearning which had a section covering anti-trust laws. My understanding of predatory pricing from that is inline with this description I found on wikipedia During ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Does my employer own code I write at home using the Visual Studio license from work?

Simple question, maybe not an easy answer: my employer gave me an MSDN subscription linked to my home hotmail account. Can I download Visual Studio and write code at home with this license? I would ...
6
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1answer
191 views

Advantage in being first to copyleft a new algorithm?

Say I have created a new (DSP) algorithm. Will I have some advantage if I open source the algorithm under copyleft licence (GPL etc.)? From what I know about licensing this should lock people out from ...
6
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2answers
5k views

Must the reason for a permanent ban for a paid online game be provided?

Suppose that a fully automated anti-cheat system (claimed by a company to be 99.99% accurate) wrongfully and permanently banned a player from a game that requires a one-time fee to begin playing, ...
6
votes
3answers
654 views

What is the legality of implementing an unrevealed killswitch in software?

In this hypothetical, the poster describes the following: during employment with his/her employer, the poster invents and patents a method (in his/her free time) that it turns out, is useful for his/...
6
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4answers
638 views

Will software ever enter the public domain?

Works enter the public domain after ... years from publication. But most software these days is not sold but "licensed" (per EULA). So the recipient never received said "software", he's just using ...
6
votes
2answers
136 views

Can I use illegally obtained code?

There are some EULA which prohibit disassembly or reverse-engineering of its executables Now Joe in Somalia gets a hold if this software, disassembles it, and publishes the algorithm online. Bob in ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

Are Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics enshrined in the law of any (inter)national jurisdiction?

The Three Laws are: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

In which sense is software cracking illegal?

I wonder which of the following behaviors are illegal in China: Cracking a software and using it. Cracking a software and distribute it without charging. Cracking a software and reselling the cracked ...
6
votes
2answers
218 views

Does using Java or Mono open me up to the possibility of being sued by Oracle or Microsoft?

Given the recent lawsuit between Google and Oracle due to Oracle's claims of the unfair usage of the Java API's in Android. I have a large amount of Java and C# code for certain back end processes on ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

Can disabling Windows 10 updates be considered a crime?

There's a pretty (in)famous post on Russian Microsoft Answers site (just search by UID to see it referenced in many news stories) where user asks how he can disable Windows Update through registry due ...
6
votes
2answers
104 views

Is it legal to write a program using a DB scheme deliberately compatible to an existing software?

Ok, so there is this commercial software X that uses an SQLite DB (or rather multiple SQLite DBs that can be added/removed) for storage, so anyone can look at the scheme by just opening it. We want ...
6
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1answer
1k views

What is the Copyright Status of code posted on JSFiddle?

Programmers share code on the site JSFiddle http://jsfiddle.net, the website section called Licence states: All code posted to the site belongs to the poster and no license is enforced. ...
6
votes
1answer
163 views

In Apple's Case, Under the All Writs Act - What does “Judicial Tools” Available Mean?

Question: Under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S. Code § 1651 - Writs, it appears that it can only be invoked IF AND ONLY IF there are no other "Judicial Tools Available" -- What does this mean? In Apple's ...
5
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1answer
484 views

Forming an LLC in Idaho: Is programming professional?

I'm forming an LLC in Idaho for a software development / consulting business. I'm planning to go directly through the Secretary of State. I see two different forms: A "Certificate of Organization ...
5
votes
1answer
463 views

Can online gambling sites bias their games?

There's biases in gambling, such as the 0 on a roulette table, but that is arguably obvious to the player. Is it legal for online casinos to knowingly or unknowingly bias their games at a software ...
5
votes
2answers
793 views

Open Source Software and Legal Responsibility for Software Content

I'm working with a few folks on updating some serious software for mechanism design. Engineered mechanisms have existed in the world now for a few hundred years or so. The science here isn't really ...
5
votes
1answer
78 views

(Re-)formatting and displaying of software licenses/privacy policy/impressum

I'm currently trying to include and render all the software licenses of products which are used by my software, a privacy policy and an impressum (necessary by German law; stating contact information)....
5
votes
2answers
1k views

“Reverse Engineering” a plain text file format

If a file output from a non-open source program is stored in plain text. What legal implications are there for building a parser to read that file into my program? Is there any legal distinction ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Legal requirements for video game accessibility in the USA

The USA has several laws regarding accessibility of resources, both physical and electronic, with regards to persons with disabilities. For this reason, popular operating systems such as Windows, OSX, ...

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