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Our legal expert looks at what you can do with others' code

Legal pitfalls facing reverse-engineering

We’ve posted up our monthly legal advice column from entertainment law specialist Sheridans – and this month the firm’s Tahir Basheer looks at reverse-engineering of code

Says Basheer: "Twenty years ago, a lone programmer could create a video game. Today 50 to 100 people often isn’t enough, with developers contracting skilled outsiders to work on specialist problems such as network support or rigging animation.

"This adds another layer of complexity to the production of modern video games. Create a game in-house, and it should be protected by the IP obligations in your employment contracts. With an external company – typically requiring in-depth access to your game-in-progress – you’ll need new provisions to ensure IP is protected.

"What if you’re the specialist, contracted to enhance a third-party’s content, and you want to develop a similar product in future? Will you face onerous restrictions? While you’ll certainly need to consult your lawyers to ensure your side of the bargain is adequately protected, there are general principles and laws that cover both parties’ interests."

Click here to read his advice on reverse-engineering.

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