When I went to the vendor's firmware download page linked to in Need help identifying main processor for Roland synthesizer I saw this in the EULA:

  1. Restrictions: You may not make or distribute copies of the Roland Product, or electronically transfer the Roland Product from one computer to another or over a network. You may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or otherwise reduce the Roland Software to a human-perceivable form. You may not modify, sell, rent, transfer, resell for profit, distribute or create derivative works based upon the Roland Product or any part thereof. You may not export or reexport, directly or indirectly, the Roland Product into any country prohibited by the United States Export Administration Act and the regulations thereunder.

I should note here that the EULA also states the following:

This Agreement shall be governed by the internal laws of the United States of America and the State of California, without regard to its conflicts of law provisions.

Since we must agree to the EULA in order to download the binary, and since the OP wants to reverse engineer said binary, what should be done?

People typically do not read the EULA, so I would assume that in general they are unaware that what they are attempting to do is in violation of it.

I did see Are questions that involve DRM reverse engineering allowed? but I am unsure of how relevant it is.


3 Answers 3


I'll stick with the recommendation given elsewhere and succinctly paraphrased there as (bracketed addition by me):

It is not our job [as moderators] to enforce third party agreements.

Anything else opens a can of worms. IANAL. So I am very happy to be given the opportunity to ignore this for once.

For example it's legal within the EU to reverse-engineer a software system for interop purposes. So for example the work on ReactOS w.r.t. Windows or on LibreOffice w.r.t. MS Office is acceptable as long as it's not about something like copying those ghastly "innovative" ribbon bars. However, if Microsoft decided to go after either of those projects (ignoring the PR disaster waiting for them in such a case), we'd have to defer the actual arguing about the text of the law to the judges. So let us not pretend that laws are at all something clear-cut and leave the worry about DCMA take-down notices to the community managers rather than the moderators pro tempore or elected moderators. So being in the shoes of a moderator at the time of this writing I'll happily make use of the opportunity to ignore the question of legality in those gray area cases.

And Igor has it right, I think:

If you'd rather not violate EULA just don't download the binary, you don't have to solve every poster's issues.


I think this should be left to each poster's discretion. In many(most?) jurisdictions EULA terms does not trump local laws, so you may still be able to disassemble the software, for example, for research or interoperability purposes. Of course, if the company decides to pursue you anyway this may be cold comfort.

I guess the best you can do is leave a comment for the OP and/or edit the question to add this information so that others are aware of such clauses and act accordingly. If you'd rather not violate EULA just don't download the binary, you don't have to solve every poster's issues.

  • This is reasonable. If I am aware of potential violations of EULA clauses in a post, I will leave a comment about it and let the poster decide what to do.
    – julian Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 14:17

I agree with Igor, but then that raises further question - only open-source/free software could be reverse-engineered as almost all commercial/copyright/proprietary software prohibits decompiling ( 90% at least, I think ), and free/GPL/open-source ones might already have the code available to public. So, the RCE subject then becomes questionable at all.

Another vector might be that users should ask about specific problems they face (and not to specific software), like: Hey guess, I get an error 'This is not a valid .Net Pe file' , how to solve that?

and then The community might answer the generic answer, not directly with regard to that copyrighted software. And so, the moral side will be left to OP's discretion to violate the terms or not.

Also, I think that here, before posting ( in the post editor top bar somewhere) there should always be such notice, that here, the RE.SE suggests to respect the software's EULAs and terms and suggest users not to breach them. so, we wont have to individually comment under all questions.

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