The situation is the following:

  • Binary file of a computer game from the 1980s. The binary file ran on a platform that doesn't exist anymore (not x86).
  • The binary file does not contain any symbols or debug information
  • Manual decompilation of the binary file into human readable source code, giving meaningful names to variables, adding comments, etc. (i.e. not just running a disassembler over the binary)
  • Not possible to find the original authors and ask for permission (company doesn't exist anymore), hence my question here.

My question:

What is the legal situation in USA and EU regarding publication of the reverse-engineered source code, e.g. on github? I suppose the art work (gfx and sound) is protected, but what about the source code itself? I see that the reverse-engineered source code of the old Pokemon games has been online for many years, same for the C64 kernal and the Amiga microkernel (exec), but that doesn't mean of course that it is legal to do so.

Note: There have been already a couple of questions on the legal aspects of reverse engineering here, but none of them fits my situation. For example here, here, or here. Most of the existing questions are about using reverse-engineered code in your own code. This is not the case here.

  • 5
    I’m voting to close this question because this is a legal question not a reversing question. Oct 9, 2020 at 17:44


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