BSD, Gav, LGPL, Jeremy, and business

Brett Glass brett at
Fri Feb 15 13:13:14 CST 2002

At 10:41 AM 2/15/2002, Dimitrie O. Paun wrote:

>Wine is a _collection_ of products, just like a Linux
>distribution. Which means that the viral aspect of the LGPL _stops_ at
>every DLL boundary. 

Alas, it does not. First of all, there's the virulence that arises when
a programmer of commercial software is "contaminated" by reading the existing 
code. The programmer cannot run the risk of reading the code or learning from
it. Any improved DLL would have to be COMPLETELY reimplemented -- a highly
wasteful and needless duplication of effort. Because this extra labor and
expense will tax vendors' businesses, they will not have as many resources to 
contribute back to the project.

Nor will they be able to hire consultants such as Jeremy to help them with
their products, because Jeremy will have seen the original source and thus 
cannot write commercially licensed DLLs for them. CodeWeavers will lose 
clients to consultants who have not seen the original code.

The contamination problem also means that any programmer of commercial 
products CANNOT debug the code and contribute fixes. He or she must treat 
it as if it were closed source. This hurts both the programmer and the 

Finally, because the (L)GPL makes product differentiation at best
and often infeasible or impossible, commercial software vendors that 
attempt to base products on it will not be viable or financially sound. 
Consultants such as Jeremy will find that they are often not paid due to 
business failures and will hence experience problems making their own 
payrolls. As a result, they, too, will not be able to contribute as much, 
hurting the project. Everyone loses.

In short, the (L)GPL will accomplish its stated goals: to put commercial 
software vendors out of business and to prevent programmers (including 
CodeWeavers!) from being adequately compensated for their work.


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