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Old 04-25-2014, 11:22 AM   #1

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Default Abadonware / Reversing / Possibilities

I saw leftiness post over at ps2 and i thought before this gets lost over there again i would post here since what he says about abadonware is pretty much spot on. This a pretty interesting and somewhat painful topic so i am making his long post into a very long post

The term abadonware has no defined legal meaning and is usually just applied to unauthorized distribution of software where the owner for some reason is unable/unwilling to enforce its rights. Concerning loopholes in international copyright i guess people should just forget about it unless they want a major headache (id recommend starting with figuring out how the international copyright treaties work) or are prepared to move their residence to one of the handful of "nice" places that did not sign any agreements. Yes, there are local flavors of copyright that might allow you to use stuff you otherwise could not but like i said look into the international treaties first and understand how they affect this since pretty much every country on earth has signed those. Also i really hope people would stop citing "fair use" since 99% of the people that do it have clearly never bothered to read its definition and just think that its very fair they are using copyrighted work x and thus "fair use" (its also an us concept so unless you are living in the usa chances are what you are saying means a whole lot of nothing). Of course there have been loopholes in the past (like large scale import of unauthorized live records due to vague wording of various european copyright laws that legalized them and made them untouchable for us customs or allofmp3 where some russian broadcast licensing organization decided they were also competent to authorize sale of mp3 files for next to nothing even though its authority was disputed and allofmp3 clearly targeted non-russian markets) but they are usually pretty specific and require a lot of resources to be actually exploited. Really, just forget it.

Reverse engineering is not generally illegal anywhere afaik besides if you are trying to circumvent copy protection schemes (which is prohibited in a couple of places) or something similar that would touch any rubberband facilate-piracy laws and even then if you are just doing it for your own enjoyment chances are very low anyone would care. Often no-reversing clauses are put into EULAs to address just that but if this is enforceable is jurisdication dependent at least afaik. Where it gets problematic is when you want to use the knowledge you gained. Simply sharing it will probably be fine but actually doing something with it will almost always make you create some kind of derivative work which you technically can not distribute without consent of the original copyright owner. Now if you are acting in good faith (like making a hotfix for a bug or something) you can usually just take consent for granted but stepping on anyones toes here is clearly not a wise idea (more on this further down). Good news: Since Stony seems have some kind of OK for distributing modified versions that might not be a problem in this case.


Looking at it technically: Well, its probably not exactly difficult to figure out this or that about the engine but going as far as to have it do anything useful will be quite a bit of work (does the engine even have a clean syscall interface or is it just c++ calls which would make writing an extensive interface pain...). I guess you could build some kind of middle man mod that sits between the engine and the actual game code which is what metamod for the source engine does i think. If one would want this is an entirely different question though. From what i gathered from various people modding source it is not all smiles and flowers which of course is in part due to mods braking every time valve updates the engine and the reversers have to catch up (again something that does not apply here). Now for really rewriting any part of the game: Errr, well, i dont know... maybe its possible? I guess at least theoretically there is always someone smart enough to do it but its clear it would be a giant heap of work and if anyone has the resources to do it i would strongly advise them to look at one of the nice free engines and just build a savage 2 clone from scratch. Its not that hard and there is good base code out there already. Besides actually having an engine with support and the ability to do stuff the right way instead of losing hair over duct tape code will be invaluable in the long run. Also one should consider that the reason S2 never released a SDK might be that they dont want large scale modifications on their engine (just a possibility - there are other valid reasons for not doing so) so at the point you accomplished this they might not be very happy about it (which is the unwise idea was talking about). So if someone actually chooses to go this route it would be best to test waters first i think.
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