The reverse engineering of software, so long as it is consistent with our international treaty obligations, should be allowed in South Africa.
This is according to the draft Intellectual Property Policy which was published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Government Gazette on Wednesday, 4 September 2013.
The DTI offered a number of recommendations in the document, which it said were made “to enhance access to copyrighted materials and achieve developmental goals for education and knowledge transfer”.
According to the DTI, South Africa must adopt “pro-competitive measures under copyright legislation”. This legislation must provide the adoption and maintenance of broad exemptions for educational, research, and library uses.
Among the provisions that should be made in copyright legislation is allowing software to be adapted to local needs by allowing reverse engineering.
The full text of the recommendation is reproduced below for the sake of accuracy:
South Africa should allow software to be adapted to local needs through copyright legislation that allows reverse engineering of computer software programs consistent with its international treaty obligations.