Dr. Seuss, licensing, and WINE

Patrik Stridvall ps at leissner.se
Sat Feb 9 05:39:05 CST 2002

> > You might believe me or you might not, as all people arguing against
> > me last time. Be that as it may, that discussing is dead and I
> > will in the future concentrate on "If the LGPL means what you
> > say it does, we don't want the LGPL".
> > 
> Actually, IYRC, and IIRC, I pretty much agreed with you that the LGPL 
> actually WOULD allow one to implement proprietary code simply 
> by releasing 
> small wrapper functions as LGPL code.

Yes, but you was one of the few. Alexandre in particular seemed
to believe it depended on some strange notation of whether it
was intentional or.
> As in:
> DWORD WINAPI FooMicrosoftApi(CHAR *bar, DWORD baz)
> {
>       return someotherdll_FooMicrosoftApi(bar,baz);
> }
> Which would be LGPL, and the someotherdll_FooMicrosoftApi 
> would be under a 
> different license.
> With this situation the stated purpose of the LGPL is still 
> upheld.  The 
> stated purpose is to allow one to continue to update the 
> parts of the code 
> that are LGPL while still being able to link with proprietary 
> components.

Exactly. However I see no reason particular reason why even
less honourable companies wouldn't release the wrapper code
to the us whether they were forced to or not. It is in their
intrest to make it easy for Wine to use their library so they
can limit the support for clueless users for example.

This even if LGPL allowed it, is not a strong argument for LGPL.
In this case it would only primarily the confusion on whether this
is allowed, for little gain.

> Thus TransGaming does not hurt.  Lindows really doesn't hurt 
> either, and 
> the users of Lindows win because should they need to update the LGPL 
> components of Wine they can do so and still continue to link 
> to Lindows 
> binary only components.

Exactly, but they will be able to do that without the LGPL.
It is in the respective companies intrest to make it so.
> Now you may consider this not enough to stop the less honourable 
> companies.  Yeah, you're right.  Lindows can continue to 
> build upon wine, 
> add their own stuff, and release a product.  The only 
> difference is that 
> now they can't just fold all the wine code into the binary.. 
> they have to 
> allow the user to update the wine code.  That is the purpose 
> of the LGPL.  
> Unlike the GPL which tries to make all software free 
> software, the LGPL 
> tries to keep free software as free software, and proprietary 
> software as 
> proprietary software.

Yes. But that is NOT an argument for using LGPL as I have said above.
> Now let's say we take the stricter interpretation that you 
> cannot do the 
> above.  That is bad I think.
> How about going to LGPL and add a clause that clarifies that 
> the above is 
> in fact allowed?

Why confuse the company lawyer even more?

Even if I would be inclined to agree, I would rather let the FSF lawyers
draw up a completely new license lets call it, hmm, MGPL (Middleware GPL),
for use in, hmm, what should I call it, say two-ended libraries that Wine
IMHO really is.

This MGPL should clarify that it is legal to "plug-in" proprietary
application/libraries in both ends while code the middle that is
the Wine source code should have some copyleft like protection and 
additional that sublicening the code as LGPL is allowed.

Note however I'm not really proposing this but it might be a reasonable
compromise. Perhaps something for the LGPL camp to chew on.
> > > I think it's more of an issue of people thinking too much in
> > > black/white
> > > terms and people that lean strong towards one side or the other.
> > 
> > Yes. Perhaps they are not nessarily thinking in black and white
> > but their arguments are often presented that way.
> > 
> > I'm not entirely blameless on that point either, I will try
> > to do better in the future.
> > 
> > > Look no further than the US political system for a good
> > > example.  You have
> > > the Republicans and the Democrats.  Generally they take every
> > > issue to
> > > opposite ends of the extreme such that 99% of congress is at
> > > one extreme
> > > or the other, but 99% of the population wants neither extreme.
> > 
> > Exactly, but that is because:
> > 1. They want votes so they can do that they feel is right.
> > 2. The ignorant masses are not likely to understand subtle
> >    differences in opionion.
> > 
> > When the voters give any of them support, the problem is that
> > they didn't really support the extreme views they presented,
> > but they are forced to do it anyway in order of not being
> > accussed of betraying the will of the voter.
> > 
> You can thank the "liberal" media for that one. :-(

Well, that is just the symptom. 
The ignorant masses are the real problem IMHO.

Unfortunately, there is no serious alternative to democracy,
so I'm a loss what to do. :-(

Lets return the easy problem of finding of good license for Wine. :-)

> Especially see MSNBC.  What a crock of shit that is.. 
> figures, it being a 
> MS product and all :-).  The reporters on that station are 
> just horrible.  
> They ask a question and when they get a totally straight 
> answer that they 
> don't agree with they just ask it again and again changing a 
> few words to 
> make it seem like it's a different question.

Well, people watch the shit, so they get what the deserve.

Unfortunately it hurt us other as well, but then we really can't
limit their freedom of speech, can we?
> > In the cases of Wine. I hope that the people working with the
> > Wine project are not among the ignorant masses and thus really
> > are able to understand the subtle differences between different
> > positions.
> > 
> Yeah, so far it only seems like the people who caught this story on 
> slashdot are among the ignorant masses. :-/

I wouldn't really call them the ignorant masses but rather the
I-can-almost-but-not-quite-understand-this masses. Since they
don't fully understand it they assume that it is something
bad and post their unordered thoughts in hope that other might
make something out of it.
> > > Essentially we could go on forver about X11/BSD vs. GPL.  
> It's been
> > > discussed to death already folks.  What we need are reasonable
> > > compromises.  Of course you need to have people willing to
> > > compromise to
> > > do that.  I suspect most developers are with the exception of
> > > the view
> > > vocal BSD people and the few vocal LGPL all the way people.
> > > I myself am
> > > certainly not at either extreme.
> > 
> > Even if perhaps some people won't believe me. I not really
> > an extremist. I try to take a pragmatic view of the world.
> > 
> > I believe that GPL has its place, LGPL has it place and the BSD
> > license has its place.
> > 
> > However my analysis of the issues at hand makes me believe that
> > LGPL would be really bad in the particular case of Wine, for
> > reasons that I have tried to explain.
> > 
> Personally I think the LGPL is pretty damn good and fits wine 
> pretty well 
> but we simply need to clarify the gray areas about what is and is not 
> allowed (see above).

That is the point we disagree on, at least partly. 
> > I suggest that people try to think about scenarios of circumstances
> > where possible extensions to Wine might be made. This might be
> > business models like Transgaming or Lindows.com or just something
> > Joe Hacker or Joe Ex-Windows-Shareware-Writer or Joe I'm-Conspiring
> > -With-A-Proprietary-Library-Company-But-You-Can't-Prove-It 
> are doing.
> > Just like the examples in the my last mail.
> > 
> > Then ask the questions:
> > 1. Do you consider his or her behavior morally or ethically 
> defendable?
> > 2. Does it violate the letter of the LGPL?
> > 3. Does it violate the spirit of the LGPL?
> > 4. Does it violate the letter of copyright law?
> > 5. Does it violate the spirit of copyright law?
> > 6. Do you think any reasonable Judge/Jury would find him or 
> her guilty?
> > 
> > With the spirit of copyright law I roughly mean:
> > Is it what congress intended and/or is it constitutional?
> > Notice the and/or:
> > It is possible for act of congress to be constitutional without
> > being the intention of the congress.
> > 
> Hmm.. y'know that's a good idea.

At least it something concrete to do instead on arguing back on
forth about abtract fears.
> We should collectively think of the different scenarios and 
> ask one very 
> important question: Do we /really/ want to prevent this scenario from 
> happening?

Ah, I forgot that very important question. I intend to supply it but somehow
it got lost. But perhaps the question:

1. Do you consider his or her behavior morally or ethically defendable?

sums it up pretty well as well.

I can't think about anything except egoistical concerns that could
make anybody want to prevent something they thought morally and
ethically defendable.

> Personally I have warmed up a slight bit to the idea of 
> Lindows.  At first 
> I was a bit like.. those dickheads took wine, added a few 
> things, and are 
> gonna sell it for $100/seat and we're not getting any of that 
> or even any 
> improvements back!?  That bites.
> But now I realize that we need to put that emotion aside and 
> look at how 
> exactly lindows harms wine (which it does).
> The first thing is the issue of binary-only wine that can't 
> be changed and 
> has absolutely no source.  That really bites for the user who is thus 
> locked into Lindows complete package and cannot even change 
> the parts of 
> wine that Lindows has nothing to do with.  

If Lindows prevents users from updating their version of Wine
it is really their and their users problems not our problem.

> If we were LGPL 
> and allowed 
> importing functions from non-LGPL components then Lindows 
> could still add 
> value by implementing APIs in their own DLL or DLLs and 
> loading them from 
> wine.  In fact, they don't need to be DLLs.  They could just 
> put all their 
> stuff in their own closed source file, compile it, and 
> distribute the .o 
> so that end users (their customers) can later take that .o 
> file plus the 
> LGPLd modifications to wine that make it use the functions in 
> that .o, and 
> link it into a newer version of wine.

I don't see why we should adapt our license to cater for people
that make bad choices and suffer because of it. Especially
when such a license might scare other people that might help
us away.
> Now, the second issue, and the one Alexandre is (or maybe 
> just was) most 
> concerned about, was companies implementing functionality 
> that the real 
> wine does not have will sometimes reduce the incentive for a 
> developer to 
> work on it.  That is to say that a good portion of developers 
> that would 
> otherwise be contributing to Wine making stuff work will stop 
> if they can 
> simply by Lindows for $100 and make that work.  

Perhaps, but you will have to take the good with the bad and
licenses preventing this also prevents other things.

Whether LGPL really does this or not is another question though.

> Ironically 
> moving to LGPL 
> would actually make it easier for a wine developer to use 
> some lindows 
> functionality since they could update the rest of Wine.  
> However, at least 
> for me part of the reason I like hacking on Wine is to hack 
> on wine to 
> have a version that is free software.  That is, let's say 
> there had been a 
> working closed source ASPI layer then I could've used my CD-R 
> in Wine and 
> maybe I wouldn't have fixed a bunch of stuff with ASPI.  But 
> doing that 
> was a lot of fun and I would have been the one missing out by 
> falling back 
> to a lindows implementation and never considering actually 
> fixing the real 
> wine implementation.  Plus in the meantime at least my CD-R would've 
> worked so it would have been a less pressing issue and would 
> have avoided 
> numerous reboots for me in trying to create a free version.

Regardless of any fun you might have had. Ask this question:

Would you have consider it ethically or morally defendable if the
Wine license had prevented you from using a proprietary ASPI
library with Wine and distributing the result to your friends. 
> Anyway.. these are just two.. there are more I'm sure.. I 
> really need to 
> go to bed though.

Different time zones. I returned from a late breakfast to 
find your mail. :-)
> Before I do so, I would like to point you to the wxWindows website.
> According to their short license summary they use LGPL but 
> also allow you 
> to distribute a binary linking with wxWindows included.  That 
> exception 
> would not be appropriate for wine (in fact, it's like the 
> main advantage 
> for us to use the LGPL I think).  However we could do a similar style 
> thing and say: "We're LGPL but we specifically allow you to 
> create stub 
> functions in our library that call out to your proprietary component.

See my suggestion about the "MGPL" instead.
> Hopefully we can get this resolved this time...  It's looking 
> promising 
> given the few and far between somewhat clear posts and 
> disregarding the 
> ill-informed wanna-be-on-slashdot shit.

We will see. I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic for the moment.

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