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Do the folks who write the ATI drivers for Linux have to jump through the same hoops? Can you really reverse engineer hardware based on a software driver?
/me doesn't know.
I'm not familiar with the details of this story, but is it possible that ATI is checking the OSS driver for bugs? That's mighty nice of them if you ask me (which you didn't). That ATI doesn't want a crappy driver distributed that puts their product in a bad light isn't too irrational. However, it would be a shame if ATI rejects the code without offer patches or at least a checklist of things to fix.
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