Legal issues with wine development

Roderick Colenbrander thunderbird2k at
Fri Jan 15 12:32:48 CST 2010

Just to provide some reference to another project which had a similar
issue. As you likely know Android is based on Linux. Except for the
kernel which is obviously GPL, the platform uses as little (L)GPL code
as possible. Their libc implementation, Bionic, is based on BSD but
they required Linux headers but those are GPL. To work around the
license issue they created a set of scripts which processed the GPL
Linux kernel headers and strips them of all comments and it keeps only
the interface information. This way they created BSD licensed headers.

I'm not a lawyer but this option might be legal for Wine as well (if
the headers you process don't require an NDA or so). Whether we want
to use such practices for Wine is a second question but it might be an
interesting point of research.


On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Steven Edwards <winehacker at> wrote:
> 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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