Legal issues with wine development

Steven Edwards winehacker at
Fri Jan 15 07:42:42 CST 2010

On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 1:41 AM, Benjamin Zink <wine.ben.zink at> wrote:
> I understand you aren't allowed to look at the source code. The question I
> have is are you allowed to look at the headers and is an API that's auto
> generated from the source ok to look at? has a
> javadoc style mfc api auto generated from the mfc source. Is this an ok
> thing to look at?

Alexandre will have to correct me if I am wrong on this, maybe the
rules have changed or are not clearly defined, this is just my
experience working on the wine project.

IANAL but here goes: Normally your at the mercy of the license of the
SDK or source in question with the understanding that Interface
information is not subject to copyright. If you physically copy the
source code from a given header to your header it would legally be a
violation, but your writing an interface for other code that will be
blackboxed. At one wine conference, the rule I heard was, open the
header, read the interface, close the file and open your file and
rewrite the interface in your own words.

Each project seems to have slightly different rules, but this is the
standard we've followed forever. These is of course the subject the
the EULA of how you got the header. I had patches rejected to the
mingw w32api project before where I submitted certain wine headers,
the authors offered to relicense under public domain. They were
rejected because at the time information was only obtainable via a SDK
download with a EULA attached, even though it was very liberal.

Since your source is a site on the internet, even if the terms of the
MFC source were not pretty liberal, someone else is 'documenting' the
interface by publishing it on the web. Since your using this
alternative source, that seems to fall under clean-room standards.

Steven Edwards

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and
that is an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo

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