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The ethics of software emulations?

Is this off topic? There seems to be some fundamental misconceptions
about how software emulations of hardware are made out there.

I teach computer programming, and one of my programming assignments is
to to make a software version of the etch-a-sketch. The students have
a good understanding of what an etch-a-sketch should do, but still the
actual coding is a challenging project for them. The computer code
that makes the simulation work is far removed from how the hardware of
the physical etch-a-sketch works.

Am I ripping off the owners of the etch-a-sketch? Am I "reverse
engineering" the etch-a-sketch?

There are currently many software emulations of classic pieces of
music gear out there. Do people think this is a bad thing?

I'm not trolling, I'm genuinely curious.
Art Simon
myspace [dot] com/artsimon