'Scarecrow' license agreements and how to defeat them
'Legal scarecrow' agreements are NOT legally binding
by fravia+, 20 October 1998, in fieri
And even if they were, I'll show you here how to circumvent them...
[What they are] ~
[Eye for eye] ~
What they are
Most licence agreement (that thing that you click "I agree" on and never read,
where you agree to give up your first born child and let your sister be
sold as a slave :-) include a clause that prohibits reverse engineering. A couple of
IF YOU AGREE TO THE DISCLAIMER AND LICENSE YOU MAY:
(i) use this software on as many computers as you wish at no charge for
up to but no more than 30 days. After 30 days of use you must either
discontinue the use of this software or purchase a registered version
for each computer that you are going to use this software on.
YOU MAY NOT:
(i) sublicense, rent, sell, or lease any portion of this software;
(ii) reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, modify, translate,
make any attempt to discover the source code of this software, or
create derivative works from this software; or
(ii) continue use of this software after your 30 day trial.
DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES:
We have made every effort possible to ensure that this software is free
of any bugs or errors, however in no way is this software to be considered
error or bug free. By using this software you assume all responsibility
for any damages or lost data that may result from any errors or bugs in
this software. Regardless of whether any remedy set forth herein fails
of its essential purpose, in no event will our Software house be liable
to you for any special, consequential, indirect or similar damages,
including any lost profits or lost data arising out of the use or inability
to use this software...
Note that you should not "reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, modify, translate,
make any attempt to discover the source code", as if the source code of a
software product were a 'private secret' that third parties are not even
allowed to examine...
Here another example:
You may not:
* permit other individuals to use the Software except under the
terms listed above;
* permit concurrent use of the Software;
* modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or
create derivative works based on the Software;
* copy the Software other than as specified above;
* rent, lease or otherwise transfer rights to the Software; or
* remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Software.
Title, ownership rights, and intellectual property rights in the
Software shall remain in Our Software house and/or its
The Software is protected by the copyright laws and treaties.
Title and related rights in the content accessed through the Software
is the property of the applicable content owner and may be pro-
tected by applicable law. This License gives you no rights to
The license will terminate automatically if you fail to comply
with the limitations described herein. On termination, you must
destroy all copies of the Software and Documentation.
Here there seems to be an interesting possibility. I reverse the
software. License has been violated and terminate. I then destroy
all copies of the software, and have then respected the licence. And so
on ab absurdo. Like the never-ending sentence
"All crackers are liers, lied the cracker".
Eye for eye
(Let's produce our own preliminary agreements and let's alien
software sign them)
OK, it is clear that such 'scarecrow' agreements are as
preposterous as you wish, yet of course NOT legally binding. Let's
demonstrate it ab absurdo: If they were legally binding, then ANY
agreement of this sort would be, and then anyone, you or me,
could prepare on his own a small program (I promise that I'll really
write it myself as soon
as I find the time) that acts as a small 'wrapper' for all this kind
of software (I really wish that a good lawjer will correct this
order to make our own 'legal scarecrows' even more dangerous-looking than
those used by some softwarehouses...):
Your software is entering my private computer. By trespassing
this memory point you agree to allow complete possession of
your software to the legitime owner of this computer, and
specifically you completely and irrevocabily agree to allow
any attempt to modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile,
disassemble or create derivative works based on this Software
that the legitime owner of this memory (i.e. me :-) fancies.
You also declare as void and inexistent any other conditions-
agreements regarding your software that may preposterously
be triggered by your software inside the RAM hosting you.
Finally you accept also COMPLETE RESPONSABILITY for any
malfunctioning your software will have caused to the owner of
the hardware you are herewith allow to visit ONLY if you
If you don't wish to accept these conditions, please leave
immediatly this private memory and fully remove your software
from this private hardware.
By trespassing this memory point you have completely agreed
to the above.
[add date with hours, minutes and seconds here]
[add 'Signature' with the version name of the software here]
Ab absurdo, as I said... yet, see, either both "agreements" are valid or neither
is... you cannot have the cake and eat it.
I would say that we could keep it this way: anyone
may reverse the hell out of everything, provided he does not steal or sell
The only binding texts are the NATIONAL LAWS governing software
reversing and we have already seen that (at least in the European
5(3): The person having a right to use a copy of a computer program
shall be entitled, without the authorization of the rightholder,
to observe, study or test the functioning of the program in
order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any
element of the program if he does so while performing any of
the acts of loading, displaying, running, transmitting or
storing the program which he is entitled to do..
(Let's click our 'I disagree' button)
Now, this said, I cannot understand why a cracker (one of the most intriguing
heroes in modern society) should not use his superior knowledge
in order to avoid ANY silly trick or bogus legal mumbo-jambo, in life
and in software life as well.
So let's see: let's take as target "Window Washer", by Webroot software.
There you can read the following preposterous text:
YOU MAY NOT:
(i) sublicense, rent, sell, or lease any portion Window Washer;
(ii) reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, modify, translate,
make any attempt to discover the source code of Window Washer,
or create derivative works from Window Washer; or
(iii) continue use of Window Washer after your 30 day trial.
Well, I don't like it: of course I wish to reverse engineer, decompile,
disassemble modify and make any attempt to discover the source code of
any application running on my ram... why shouldn't I?
This puts me in a difficult situation: I cannot agree with this clause,
yet the demande made is as much as my conscience, verging on the border of
that that fine line which divides honesty from dishonesty, would tolerate...
So let's reverse THIS AGREEMENT first of all:
1) Fire the Customizer (you'll find it -uncracked) in my tools section,
crack it first.
2) Fire Window Washer (actually it's 'setup' module).
3) identify the main agreement window with the customizer, you'll see that's
Class: TForm4; Title: License Agreement & Disclaimer; Handle (here) 0x0644;
Dimensions: 373x557 at 61,216;
4) now point the customizer to the small button 'Agree', you'll see that's
class Tbutton; ParentClass: TForm4; Dimensions: 25x75 at 395,378.
5) Now choose the label 'Text' Inside the customizer. And type under 'Nex Text':
'I Disagree' (or whatever you fancy :-)
6) Since I didn't agree, I'm not bound to the list of no-no-no. Yet don't worry:
I won't translate nor modify this crap.
So easy it is. And yet this i quite interesting, not only for software license agreements, bu
also for many more legal paraphernalia that are now appearing on the web everywhere.
Let's see more 'in deep' the code used by a normal application for this kind of stuff...
... to be continued, your suggestions, additions, critics and modifications are welcome... 20 October 1998...
Is reverse engineering illegal?
Fravia 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998.
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