Reverse engineering - is taking someone elses work (usually compiled code or similar) and looking at it to try and work out what it does for the purposes of copying the concepts and process - all be it in a different way.
Code? We're talking machines here. Reverse engineering a machine means taking that thing and figuring out how it works, and how to replace all its functions with software. You are puting NO VALUE into this people's research. Reverse engineering is not an easy task as yu put it, and it takes shitloads of research as well...
How "commercially viable" is the Amiga 500 computer?
With ROMs you take the thing and copy it and have it to yoru heart's contents, there's NO reverse engineering in it. Saying emulators are illegal is like blaming guns for armed robbery.
I wonder where you read/heard that Bleem! started as freeware? It has ALWAYS been a commercial product.
I'm out of here.