Wine license change

Claus Fischer claus.fischer at
Wed Feb 13 19:03:26 CST 2002

Issue 1: On corporations' dealing with GPL

Basically all big companies in the software industry know
about the GPL. It's a known quantity. Even if it may not
have been publicly enforced, companies have spent lawyers'
time finding out the core implications. They know its
`spirit', and they mostly equate it with its spirit,
i.e. they deal with GPL code according to its spirit.
This is true whether they are pro or contra GPL in a
particular situation; hardly have big companies ever
tried to sneak around it. (Or was there some good

GPL'ing code may not fit everybody's needs but it can make
a lot of sense for corporations whose core business is
not Wine. Imagine some big hardware vendor (Intel), software
vendor (IBM), bank, fortune 500 company, considering the use
of Wine for some internal or external product. They don't want
to get into the Wine business at all.

It's much easier for them to hire external consultants,
Codeweavers, whoever, to implement some stuff for them
and give back to the public if they don't run the risk of
  a) the competition taking the code
  b) the competition improving it
  c) the competition getting better products
  d) the competition not giving anything back
Even if the causal connection between the little money
you spent and the success of your competition is very weak,
you don't want to read that kind of implication in a newspaper.
Rather spend 10 times the money and do it closed-up in-house.

Whereas using the GPL, by this time a very well known
quantity in most of the above mentioned companies, you
can rule out this kind of embarrassment and explain fair
and square to your shareholders that a Windows compatibility
layer is not a means of competition to you, and that you are
just playing by the general rules of the community, and those
ensure that your competition will not take advantage of you.

For an enabling technology like Wine that will perhaps never
become the one big bread and butter product of a fortune 500
company (sorry Lindows guys), this carries a lot of potential
for consultants, both individual and incorporated, whose goal
is to offer a Windows compatibility layer and to improve Wine.
  (1)  `We need something like Wine'
  (2)  `We need some enhancements'
  (3)  `We have to give back the source code anyway'
  (4)  `So we can as well outsource that and consult with experts'

In contrast an X11 style license would modify this:
  (1)  `We need something like Wine'
  (2)  `We need some enhancements'
  (3)  `We do not want our competition to know'
  (4a) `Let's do it in-house', or
  (4b) `Let's make a contract with our external consultants
        that disallows them to reuse the code'

Issue 2: On developers discussing licenses

You shouldn't. You can't convince others, and you shouldn't
try to. You have the power. Just pick one that fits your
goals for yourself and for the project, and move on.


Claus Fischer <claus.fischer at>

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