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  1. #1
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    Question Decompiling a program

    Hello All,

    Okay I have a friend who has a .exe - she wants to decompile it to get the source code. She paid to have it made and the guy that made it wont give her the source code.

    Is this possible (I dont' think it is) but I may be wrong.

    Anyways any ideas?
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  • #2
    Supreme Overlord Spookster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACJavascript
    Hello All,

    Okay I have a friend who has a .exe - she wants to decompile it to get the source code. She paid to have it made and the guy that made it wont give her the source code.

    Is this possible (I dont' think it is) but I may be wrong.

    Anyways any ideas?
    Depends on the language used. If she paid for it and it stipulated in her contract that the accompanying source code belongs to her then she should consult a lawyer about it.

    Decompliling and reverse engineering is not something we will be discussing in these forums because it is almost always illegal to do so unless the person has been given explicit permission to do so.
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  • #3
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    is it illegal? oops. *hides decompiler, hex editor and ressources hacker*

    you can't get the exact source code unless i'm very much mistaken. you can always have a good look at the pogram and figure some stuff out though. thats how w***z is made
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  • #4
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    Yes it is 100% illegal to decompile a progarm without expressed permission.

    Hmmm, She is really stuck, the stupid thing is the guy wont talk to her or answer her emails.

    I am going to ask her if she had a contract that stated she wouldn't get the source code.

    Thanks!
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  • #5
    Supreme Overlord Spookster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whackaxe
    you can't get the exact source code unless i'm very much mistaken.
    Of course you can. I've seen decompilers for Java and C++ produce the exact code used.
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  • #6
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    But how often does that happen? Almost all decompilers generate a low level version of the code, but if the code happens to be low level itself, they may get it right.
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    Supreme Overlord Spookster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by liorean
    But how often does that happen? Almost all decompilers generate a low level version of the code, but if the code happens to be low level itself, they may get it right.
    I used a decompiler often in college as it was a part of some of my studies and the one I used always produced the exact code used.
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  • #8
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    Made for the same compiler you were using, then? Because If it wasn't, there's a very low chance of that. (Especially since some parts of the code are irrevocably lost when compiled.)
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  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by liorean
    Made for the same compiler you were using, then?
    No. I've used it to decompile both Java and C++ programs I've written.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookster
    Of course you can. I've seen decompilers for Java and C++ produce the exact code used.
    i'll take your word for it then. ive been coding C++ for about a week now
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  • #11
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    It can be decompiled to the original code only if the executable is compiled with debug options.

    Without them, you cannot get the original code.

    That's one of the reasons why decompiling is not as popular. Imagine if you can get original code by using just the executable without the debug information, you would be able to get the source code for all the games/apps and nobody would buy them.
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  • #12
    Regular Coder Feyd's Avatar
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    Best way would be to threaten with a lawsuit (or probably small claims court, unless this was a big project), since she paid for the software and thus the code. Unless, and this is a big unless, there is no contract, or there is a contract that does not state specifically about source code...then it is a little bit more difficult as far as prooving what is hers. Though technically, any well-done work contract would have provided her with all supporting materials of the product she paid for, including source, non-functioning mockups, wireframes, etc...basically everything the guy did while he was on the clock for her, since the letter of US contractual labor law is that what is made by a person(s) while being paid by another is owned by that person paying them. Get a contract with a company that makes you sign something saying everything you develop while on their clock/their machines is theirs, and then design a graphic or app for your personal site while on the clock...legally, the company/person who is paying, who is named in the contract, owns that (though we all know these kinds of things happen quite often without that ownership clause being taken).

    And yes, decompiling is illegal...even if she paid for it (though this is arguable because she paid for it...though the letter of the law is still decompiling/reverse engineering is still bad juju in the US).
    Last edited by Feyd; 04-05-2004 at 11:35 PM.
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  • #13
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    That's why people are scared of writing heavey code in Java - very easy to reverse-engineer.

    Compile C++ and there's a good chance no one will be able to reverse-engineer it, unless they are good at Assembley.

    What a shame I can't get my head 'round C++!

  • #14
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    That's why people are scared of writing heavey code in Java - very easy to reverse-engineer.
    I think that is a bit much. A good obfuscator will prevent this. I doubt you will find any well written java (or .net) app that does not use one.

    If she did take him to court I would be interested to see what what the judge would decide if there were no contracts signed of whom owns the source code. I am ignorant on any precedent on this.
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