A group of law professors led by Mark Lemley of the University of California, Berkeley, has filed an amicus brief in a case that purportedly allows licensors to "contract around" a user's right to reverse engineer the software they buy. In the case of Bowers v. Baystate Technologies Inc, a Massachusetts federal court found that the defendant had violated a shrinkwrap license when it purchased a software program and studied it in order to create its own program.
Like many software shrinkwrap licenses, the one in question in Bowers had a reverse-engineering provision. However, the law professors filing their brief in favor of reconsideration of the case argue that the Bowers case went too far, and seemed to stand for the proposition that even if someone has a constitutional, fair use right to reverse engineer, they waive that right when they agree to the terms of an anti-reverse engineering shrinkwrap license. Thus, the professors are hoping that the constitutional right to fair use can "trump" the contractual power of a software license, in much the same way that you could not contract away other constitutional rights, such as the rights to be free from slavery or murder.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story covering the brief.