LGPL, and real World

Hetz Ben-Hamo hetz at witch.dyndns.org
Sat Feb 16 03:02:55 CST 2002


I do not wish to interrupt the nice email party going on here, but I 
wish to bring an example in real life which might let people re-think 
their decision....

I'll try to be a simple as I can. The following case is totally 

For the sake of this email, lets say I'm a lead developer in a company 
caled qwerty-wine, and one of my customers want me to develop a 
software for his palm top tun Visio XP on it, for the field engineers. 
For the sake of this example, lets say I'm checking out wine cvs today.

Now - lets say that now is May, Codeweavers had decided to switch to 
LGPL and lets say that I am their competitor and I just had become 
aware of a DLL which is not implemented, but it is (according to a co-
developer) implemented in Wine under the LGPL tree, so it means I'm 
2 "cvs" commands from getting their implementation...

Now - what if my product is totally a closed source one and my client 
doesn't want to reveal a single source code line? then I have 2 
choices regarding this DLL:

1. I can Ignore the DLL in the Wine tree and re-implement it from 
where it was before the license has been changed and I keep the 
changes since it already implemented in Wine tree (and my customer 
doesn't want to reveal code).

2. I can "steal" this code from the new LGPL wine tree, and saving 
myself 90% of headache how to implement it, and invest 10% of the time 
to change the code cosmetically to look different, so if CodeWeaver's 
wine DLL looked like:


Then my code will look like:


So the code is different, but it does same thing, and I still keep my 
code closed...

Who's loosing here? CodeWeavers. I used their code and no one got 
nothing out of this. Nada. Zilch. Zero. All their investment on that 
DLL implementation went down, they'll have hard time to re-cap this 

Lets say that CodeWeavers could drag me to court and I'll be happy to 
show the code to the Judge or any 3rd party mediator - what he'll see? 
he'll see completly 2 different implementations which give same 
results. I win the case and I can collect damages from CodeWeavers.

I repeat again - all the above is a FICTION. I'm not a developer (I'm 
unemployed at the moment) and the whole case - I made it up (although 
I heard some people were interested to see Wine on Embedded). But you 
wouldn't know if your competitor will use this trick with your code, 
will you? TransGaming probably won't do it, but others?

So yes, CodeWeaver have their full right to move their code to LGPL or 
whatever. Is it a smart move for the Wine development move? yes. Is it 
a smart move business wide? IMHO - no, but CodeWeavers is a private 
company, and it's Jeremy full right to decide what to do with their 

I support CodeWeavers (bought their crossover even if I used it for 2 
days), Transgaming (I subscribed, even if their code doesn't make my 
games work yet), and Lindows (I'll keep my Redhat and multi user 
approach, thank you!) and I plan to continue to do so - but will 
CodeWeaver exists due to this move? for a long term - I'm not sure, 
although I surely hope to be wrong here..

Just food for thought...

Hetz Ben Hamo

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