Q: Can I get legally charged for reverse engineering an application and posting statistics presented in the code?
There is a game - Warframe - that I was wondering if I were to reverse engineer statistics from the game, would this fall under Fair Use as research and news? Or would the developers be able to legally charge me for copyright infringement?
The answer is, as it oft is in the law, maybe. First, let's clarify some terms. Only the state or federal government "charges" you and they do so with criminal laws. Everyone else is merely a witness to the crime, at most, which is legally committed against the state. That is why it is "The People v." the defendant.
In civil cases, you are sued by a private party for violating civil laws.
Here, the Warframe game may have a set of "Terms and Conditions," which you may be violating be reverse engineering. You'd have to look at the contract you agreed to when you signed onto the game. Sure, they could sue you for violating it, or they might decide it is not worth the time and money.
Would you be violating a criminal law? This area is in flux particularly because of the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act (CFAA). Part of it criminalizes anyone who “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization." CFAA has been used to prosecute violations of Terms of Service agreements including Aaron Swartz even though he was then a research fellow at MIT with authorized access to the involved database.
Would you be accessing a protected computer by reverse engineering?
Regardless, why not reach out to the company and see if you can get permission? They might say yes or maybe they would hire you if you ideas and skills are good enough.
If not, maybe run exactly what you want to do by a lawyer who specializes in this area? Lawyers associated with https://www.eff.org/ might be particularly good on this question.
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.