February 7, 2002

Wine license change?

Author: JT Smith

Jeremy White in a post to the wine-devel list: "Some recent events have occurred that have made me change my opinion
about a Wine license change.

During my involvement in the Wine project, I have always striven to
make sure that I, and my company, did what was best for the Wine
project. I believe Wine's success will help to make the world a
better place. To that end, often through difficult personal
negotiations, I have always insured that all of my contracts require
that all code changes be returned to Wine. This, in effect, treats
Wine as an LGPL product."

You can argue that the flexibility granted by the Wine license has
meant that I received some business I would not otherwise have had.
Gav, for example, has pointed out that Corel would never have worked
on Wine if not for its license.  There are two ironies there - first,
Corel has always been a great Wine citizen, IMO, never 'abusing' the
license.  Second, while we did work with Corel to help them with Wine,
we never signed a contract with them.  Their lawyers and I were never
able to agree on a contract that we thought would sufficiently protect
Wine.  Fortunately for me, we were able to work with Corel without a
contract, but this issue to this day creates unnecessary friction
between my company and Corel.

However, with some recent events I cannot disclose, it is clear to me
that the opportunity for Wine to be used in a proprietary product is
too tempting and has caused some harm to the Wine project.  Based on
experience, I feel strongly that the potential for harm is great
enough that CodeWeavers needs to take two actions. First, we would
like to release all new code we develop under an LGPL style license.
Second, I would like to open another call for a license change and
thereby strongly add my voice to Alexandre's.

Thus, I would like to call for a change in the Wine license.  I think
we all agreed that the LGPL formed the basis for a good 'alternate'
license strategy.  Eben Moglen, the counsel for the FSF, has kindly
offered to help review licensing strategies for Wine.  The goal is to
attempt to secure some form of Copyleft protection for Wine while
still permitting proprietary software to link and bind with Wine.  I
think it it is great that we have, in Eben, not only the leading legal
scholar on free software licensing, but a great hacker to boot.  I
think he will clarify exactly what is possible and what is not
possible with GPL style licenses and insure that the license we choose
will meet our goals.

When Alexandre last brought up this issue, he was very disappointed.
He felt that there was not enough support from the 'silent majority'
of Wine developers for a license change.  His overriding lament to me
was 'No one cares'.  He further felt that since a small number of
major Wine contributors objected, that it was not appropriate to
change the license.

I would like to ask for a more formal process.  I would like each and
every contributor to Wine to send Alexandre a private email with an
'Agree' or 'Disagree' opinion, so that he can more truly assess what
the contributors to Wine really want.  The specific question I wish to
pose is as follows:

    Should the Wine project switch to a license which has as
    its goal to attempt to secure some form of Copyleft
    protection for Wine while still permitting proprietary
    software to link and bind with Wine?

Please privately let Alexandre (julliard@winehq.com) know what you
think, and then publicly respond to this thread as you feel

Finally, in closing, I wanted to summarize our position.  We plan to
release our future work under an xGPL style license, and we would like
the rest of the Wine community to join us.  If the bulk of the
community wants to stick with the current license, then we will
probably end up making a separate CVS development tree.  Anyone would
be free to use our work from that tree, under the xGPL-style license
terms the FSF's lawyers recommend.




  • Open Source
Click Here!