DMCA Inquiry

Started by sibero80, August 02, 2012, 06:33:18 PM

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Hello to everyone!
Im starting this thread because I'm actually getting active in a thread at where someone is developing a custom firmware for the NEX-5N.

There has been some talk about funding and even starting a Kickstarter iniciative under the excuse of research purposes.

Cases like the PS3 with GEOHOT are sacring the developer, specially because the thread is getting pretty popular... but if he wants to go ahead with development he needs funding to buy the cameras.. etc..

So here comes my question.

GEOHOT's lawsuit, as far as I know, was MAINLY because what he was doing allowed people to use pirated game copies..

But, what are the risks for a developer when reverse engeneering a camera's firmware?

Canon has posted their kernel sources, so I dont know what would this mean in regards of the "openness" of the firmware itself.

On a side note, how similar/different is developing for canon and for sony?

Thanks to whoever can help whit this.


QuoteBut, what are the risks for a developer when reverse engeneering a camera's firmware?

First and foremost, you risk bricking your camera.

The following comes with the very standard "I am not a lawyer" disclaimer.

As far as legal risks go you shouldn't have to worry about the DMCA, that only refers to copyright protection circumvention. Because there are no copyright protection mechanisms included on the camera, you shouldn't be afraid to reverse engineer anything. Check out: and especially read the paragraph starting with "Defining the limits of acceptable reverse engineering."

You are not restricted by the DMCA, however, you are still bound by copyright law. Sony's code (in your case, basically anything not released via the GPL) is copyrighted, and you are not allowed to post it in any form, assembled, disassembled etc. For example, we don't host any firmware dumps of any cameras because they are copyrighted by Canon. We can, however, post instructions on how to dump, the firmware, and how to interpret and look at it.

QuoteOn a side note, how similar/different is developing for canon and for sony?

They are very different. Canon devices run on an embedded OS, either DryOS or VxWorks, and it looks like the Sony devices run on some form of Linux. Probably the only similarity is they probably both use an ARM processor.


Thanks a lot for your reply!

I underestand what you mean about copyrights and reverse engeneering, that answer should comfort "someone1.00".

Now, when it comes to funding the "research" I proposed the following using Kickstarter.

Kickstarter doesnt allow or wont risk funding anything related to violating copyrighted work.. clode included..

So I proposed that the Kickstarter iniciative could be "masked" as a "research" project, with the sole purpose of finding out
what the camera's hardware has capable of beyond its current capabilities.

Obviously with no metion of what other kind of reverse engeneering would be done.

That way he could be free and comfortable publishing any modified software afterwards...

So my question is, what do you think about this method, and what would your suggest this developer in terms of funding his project and also keeping peace of mind while doing it.

Thanks again for your response!


If you want to try it that way, it's worth a shot.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of kickstarter, so my opinion is against that path. Call me old fashioned, but hardware hacking is a labor of love. Granted, there are occasions where a little extra money to get some extra hardware is useful, but, for the most part it is entirely self-funded and self-driven. If you don't have the guts to risk your own hardware, there are plenty of other hobbies that don't require that much risk.

In general though, hardware hacking has become a lot less risky than it was 5 years ago. So many devices nowadays come with a fail-safe firmware loader of some kind that bricking is a lot less scary than it used to be. I've done a lot of work with the Samsung Fascinate (a now 2 year old android phone) and it is practically impossible to permanently brick that thing. It looks like that camera has JTAG access, so you probably could rescue it if necessary, even if you do have to get your hands dirty.


DMCA applies to things that circumvent DRM and copyright. Its also a US only law. I don't think they care so much. They're probably using ML too. They might frown on posting the copyrighted internal code.

Its also mostly not a money issue (except for things like 7d when 3 devs share 1 camera). More or less need more engineers.

And remember... the first rule of fight club.....


hehehe I know, but since I dont ave any knowledge that could help in the development, I'm trying to give my grain of salt..

But it all seems to be in vain...   I even wrote to geohot and had a similar reply saying not to worry.. but this developer seems quite
jumpy about this funding issue... so I think this has gotten into a dead spot.  At least for now..

Now that you mention de 7D being shared between 3 people..   Im curious..  I've read about all the roadblocks you've encountered...
But I was wondering, besides receiving inside documentation..(not likely)..  and getting other cameras..   is there any specific/special equipment that could help in the reverse engeneering process?