Can I look at another developers code in order to develop a similar product in a new coding language?....Legally? Y/N

Product I would like to understand how it works buy looking at the content then creating it anew with a different language since it can no longer be purchased.I have a file for a small program called "SQL Grep" it was designed by a company called www.Gatherbirdsoftware.com the product and company seem to no longer be in business. Last I heard was around 2010-2011. The file I have might be helpful with the design of the product I want to make a similar tool in another language. Python & Java. I do not think it was written in either of those languages.

My questions are:
1. Is it legal to look at someone else's code "if I can even open it...?"
2. And determine how the flow of the code works with the developers language. I do this because I am learning to develop now.
3. The intention is to  build my own product to do the same thing with a newer different language?
4. The product is no longer sold and the site down with no response from the owners? I have sincerely tried.

Originally the products on the site were sold to benefit a childrens hospital. I am doing this for a charity as well. If of course I can do this in the way I hope.
Please advise. Product I would like to understand how it works buy looking at the content then creating it anew with a different language since it can no longer be purchased.
Fletcher BurdineTableau Trainer & Consultant Sales Exec.Asked:
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PortletPaulConnect With a Mentor freelancerCommented:
There is no need to reverse engineer the product. Search for queries that search all tables of a database. Look at theses for different databases as they will differ.

Now design a way to merge the wanted search term(s) into those scripts.  

Then figure out how to connect to a spefic database and pass on a squery plus handke the response.

Sending time on reverse engineering is almost certainly a waste of effort.
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PortletPaulConnect With a Mentor freelancerCommented:
Not sure the URL given above is correct. Look here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20111004042623/http://www.gatherbird.com:80/GBInformation.aspx?Val1=SQLGrep

This is the latest SQL Grep product page I can find at archive.org for gatherbird.com (and the website's last stored home page is Feb 8 2014)

I'm not sure you would need to reverse engineer that product to provide a "brute force search" of an entire database. There are such SQL scripts available in many places, but each differs according to database.
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AndyAinscowConnect With a Mentor Freelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
Basically yes and no.
If there is a disclaimer allowing you to do that then yes.  If not then it really is someone elses property.  Even if the firm isn't trading any more it is still owned by them or whoever bought them.
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Fletcher BurdineTableau Trainer & Consultant Sales Exec.Author Commented:
Trying to get a sense of programming. The development process and the project management involved. That is why I want to do this. None of the links work and there is no download. I have the file and the license. It no longer works.

Hence why I want to build my own. Any thoughts on the question? Do you know how I can open that exe....executable....?
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sarabandeConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Is it legal to look at someone else's code

you can look at any code which you get provided and have legally get access to. but if i understand your last question rightly, you don't have the code but want to find a way to reverse engineering it from the executable. this is not legal without the explicit allowance of the owner.

beside of that, reverse engineering of non-trivial c++ code gives only poor code since most of all names used in the original code were lost. also the compiler has optimized the code what makes it impossible to regain the original code flow. that means that even an expert with a long-year experience has not really a chance to get some benefits from decoding the executable. it would much easier to study the running executable and use that analysis to make new code with own improvements and a new interface. if you would do so, and have a different name for your product, you have a good chance that nobody could blame you for violating legal copy rights.

Sara
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Fletcher BurdineTableau Trainer & Consultant Sales Exec.Author Commented:
Thank you for those comments. Spot on. I will adhere to the lessons.
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