Licensing, the question ...

Paul Millar paulm at
Fri Feb 8 12:14:46 CST 2002


I stayed out of the previous licensing discussion, mainly coz I was
mulling over all the interesting comments. I'd like to make an observation
about GPL/BSD licensing issues (hopefully adding to the signal rather than
the noise side of the ratio :) then present an idea. I should preface this
by saying IANAL and may have things screwed up (but I guess that goes
without saying;)

There is a fundamental question that splits GPL-style licensing and
BSD-style licensing, specifically "can I remove some third party's right to
see and use the source code?": the freedom to remove someone else's

The BSD-style licenses say "yes". The GPL licenses say "no".

You can't necessarily say which license is "more free" as it depends on
what whether you see "the freedom to remove someone else's freedom" as
paramount or not. You end up chasing your own tail!

My opinion (yes you get that for free) is that wine does want some
protection (if that's not a too emotive term), i.e. we do want to limit
the ability for someone to develop a tweaked version of wine but making
their alterations unavailable for inclusion in wine-cvs.

IMHO, LGPL is too draconian for wine. How able something like LGPL, but
with some extra clauses. So you have a LGPL license, but with the 
following (rough) clauses:
  1. "Fair use" You are allowed to use any "small" part of the code under 
     a BSD-style license agreement.
  2. "Embargo" You are allowed to refrain from making the source-code 
     (of your modified wine source) available for a "fixed period", 
     after which the licensed code must be made available.

Obviously there would have to come to some agreement on how big a "small
part" (a function, a file, a directory, a "module"/logical unit) and how
long the "fixed period" (a month, a year, ten years) should be.

Item 1 allows you to use a bit of wine without having to reveal your
source code. Morally, how much of the code are people allowed to use
without giving anything back? None, some or all of it. BTW, I don't
believe the unconscious copyright infringement case applies to source code,
at least not under English & Scottish law.

Would item 2 keep Transgaming people happy? Say the fixed period was a
year, then wine would lag Transgaming DirectX implementation by a year.  
People who found wine unacceptable could use the Transgaming tree as per
their business model, but its guaranteed that Transgaming code would be
eventually make available for the wine tree.

What d'ya rekon?


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