[NTLK] NewtonOS ROM Source Code

Matthias Melcher mm at matthiasm.com
Mon Feb 14 17:40:29 EST 2011

Apple will not and can not ever give explicit permission to use the ROM. HWR for example is still used in InkWell as of today. They would give implicit permission to use this in PublicDomain, which then in turn could be snatched up by other OS vendors.

Oh, and the DMCA is a U.S. law. I am not sure how laws are all over the world, but I am quite sure that reverse engineering for educational purposes is legal pretty much everywhere. The DMCA applies mostly to circumventing encryption, but that would not apply to the Newton ROM. 

There are tons of references on the 'net, probably of very varying quality. This one quotes parts of the DMCA:


In Germany for example, RE is explicitly permitted - (§69 c-d, UrhG) - to fix bugs (Y10K problem) and to maintain interoperability (MP hardwar fails and will not be repaired by Apple).

For the US, also check out http://www.chillingeffects.org/reverse/faq.cgi

I would conclude that a binary translator, a software that takes the ROM from a legal owner and converts it into an application that runs on an Android device natively (as opposed to emulating the device) is perfectly legal all over the world, fixing bugs and even extending functionality.

 - Matthias, who is not a lawyer!

On 14.02.2011, at 21:40, L.W. Brown wrote:

> Here-here! Will almost certainly be denied, but then all debate would be settled.
> L.W. Brown via ¡Pad
> On Feb 14, 2011, at 12:22, Andrei Chichak <newton at chichak.ca> wrote:
>> A while back I was looking through the DMCA trying to figure out what implications it had and, unless I really need to go get lunch (which I do), there is a provision in there for reverse engineering.
>> Basically, someone would have to write Apple a note indicating what we want to do. Apple can then either offer us a license or not. If not, or if they don't respond in a reasonable amount of time, we are allowed to reverse engineer the device.
>> Reverse engineering without asking is illegal though.
>> This was in a section dealing with extending the functionality of a device made by someone else. Something to look into I suppose.
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