typodupeerror

## Wine Now Has Big-Time Lawyers On Its Side227

Roblimo writes "For years there's been fear that the Wine Project would get sued by Microsoft at some point, and this fear has kept IBM and other major free software-using companies from participating openly in it. Now the Software Freedom Law Center, headed by Columbia University law professor Eben Moglen, is offering free legal services to Wine (and other FOSS projects) to allay corporate fears and head off potential lawsuits."
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## Wine Now Has Big-Time Lawyers On Its Side

• #### Thanks Eben! (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:21AM (#12499125) Homepage
From all of us, thanks.

-Jesse
• #### Might trigger lawsuits (Score:2, Insightful)

Ironically, this might be exactly what will trigger lawsuits against wine.

Microsoft: "Hey, they have backing now, we should go after them"
• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:25AM (#12499176) Homepage
Yeah, that makes sense...

"Hey, they didn't have any lawyers to fight us with before...but now that they have a big well educated team lets go blow some cash!"

I knew MS always wants to find ways to blow the contents of its warchest :P

Next time...think before posting.

• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:31AM (#12499250)
Yeah that actually makes sense.... why bother to sue when you know they're just going to lay down before it goes to court... wait till they get lawyers so a precedent can be set.
• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:2)

If Microsoft (or anyone) tries to set precendent with GPL by suing an open source project, you can sure bet IBM, Novell, Redhat and others would come to their aid if they have to. Microsoft better be damn sure they can win.

• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:2)

I agree if I was talijg about the GPL but I'm thinking more along the lines of the DMCA... you know, the reverse engineering BS law. What WINE does has to be borderline at best and could be used to help strengthen the DMCA if WINE were to actaully lose a court case.
• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:2)

IANAL (of course), but I thought that reverse-engineering for the purposes of interoperability was explicitly allowed under the DMCA?
• #### Re:Might trigger lawsuits (Score:2)

Except of course, they were required to document the API's for their middleware network protocols as part of the reduced anti-trust procedings in the US.

Given that they got away with making the terms very restrictive (impossible for OSS to use), it would be beyond foolhardy to risk a new anti-trust case with harsher terms were they to start suing their competition, i.e. samba, in an area where they've already been nailed for anti-trust violations.
• #### An angel? (Score:4, Interesting)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:23AM (#12499152)
I believe this is called an "angel" in the business world.

My question is "what's their interest?".

I don't think this is a bad thing, just curious.

Is the free software movement gaining enough public exposure that helping it is seen as contributing to the public good?

Are we approaching a tipping point in the perception of FOSS?

here's hoping.

• #### Re:An angel? (Score:5, Funny)

<valuation @ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:25AM (#12499179)
"I believe this is called an "angel" in the business world. My question is "what's their interest?". I don't think this is a bad thing, just curious."

Let's not take any chances on this, OK? Launch Evas!
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:3, Funny)

For being the chief tactical director of NERV you really should learn to do some reconnaissance first..

Send in Section 2 and Mac Users as cannon fooder to estimate the offense capabilities of this Angel!
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:5, Funny)

<eps@e[ ]ylonb.com ['psc' in gap]> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:30AM (#12499239) Homepage
I believe this is called an "angel" in the business world.

I wouldn't go that far, this guy is still a lawyer after all.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:4, Informative)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:36AM (#12499310) Homepage
Well we are talking about Eben Moglen after all, he has been donating his time to the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] for years. It's not that big of a surprise.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:3, Funny)

Did you possibly mean "angle?"

As in, "After years of not donating any money to charity, suddenly Joe Schmoe decides to give 1 million dollars to the American Heart Association. What is his angle?"

• #### Re:An angel? (Score:3, Funny)

I think you need more blank lines in your posts.

I mean you can't have to many.

And blank lines are free, after all.

Just my 2 cents.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:44AM (#12499409) Journal
And blank lines are free, after all.

Free as in beer, or free as in speech?
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:3, Funny)

Probably free as in "I thought I was free from ever having to hear that line again." I guess this just goes to show how easily freedom can be lost :(
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:2)

first principle of OI design (PanelViews in my case) whitespace makes things easier to read. I mean, if you just run on and on and never leave a space, just keep putting as much data as you possibly can in an amazingly small space while eschewing punctuation you can claim a great density of information and a feature rich presentation but who can read that godawful mess?
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:2)

Are we approaching a tipping point in the perception of FOSS? No. You have my guarantee on that.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:2)

The point of this center existing is to provide legal assistance to open source projects. They get donations to do so, both from individuals and from corporations who want open source projects they might use to not collapse under legal pressure.

This isn't really like an angel investment; it's more like a non-profit organization.
• #### Eben is ok (Score:3, Informative)

He is the lawyer who helped to write the GPL that nobody (even SCO) will test in court and made it so airtight legally. He's been doing things like this for the FSF for years. He's also working on the GPL3, and I think this represents him making the kinds of services he's been providing to the FSF available for all of FOSS. I don't think there's anything nefarious or strange going on here.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:2)

My question is "what's their interest?"
...
Are we approaching a tipping point in the perception of FOSS?

First and foremost, they get access to free software! (it wouldn't exist without this pro-bono work). Kudos to them!

\begin{rant}

Regarding your other point, I think we are reaching a tipping point in the software industry, actually. Over the last 4-5 years, this industry has been overrun by litigation to the extent that it can get very dangerous to write a major piece of code without a lawyer on

• #### A possible benifit (Score:2)

they do get the publicity and, if they go to court and do something big, the fame for being the first real group to openly support FOSS projects.
• #### Re:An angel? (Score:2)

Are we approaching a tipping point in the perception of FOSS?

Yes, and maybe even passed it. See my sig. Linux topping Windows on google happened just in the last few months. Not scientific of course but good fun.

Most statistics that US'ians use to measure software dominance (e.g. revenue, stock price, US phone surveys, US sales) don't really apply to much of the rest of the world. Nobody knows what the Chinese and Indian statistics are (2B people versus 300M in the US), linux has no universal stock pr

• #### Real Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:23AM (#12499153)
Isn't the real fear for businesses (IBM and other free software using companies) is getting entangled in long, lengthy and technical litigation (see SCO v. Everyone) which can still (and does) happen no matter how great of representation someone has?
• #### I don't understand Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

<(david) (at) (davidmeyer.org)> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:24AM (#12499167)
Sure...I might not choose to run Windows, but that doesn't mean I won't chosoe to run Office or something else from Microsoft that Wine will enable. I run a Linux Desktop at work but use CrossOver to run Office, and at home I have to use Wine for some of my kids games. I think Microsoft would say "well, we might not get all of their business, but we'll take what we can get." From a business standpoint, that would seem to make more sense. But then again, we're talking about Microsoft.
• #### Re:I don't understand Microsoft (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:30AM (#12499243)

"well, we might not get all of their business, but we'll take what we can get." From a business standpoint, that would seem to make more sense.
What makes sense about supporting a project whose focus will make one of your core (profitable) products unnecessary?

Making Windows applications run on Linux (or whatever) won't make Linux users run out and buy Office. No, rather it will make Windows customers migrate to Linux (because they can still keep their old software).
• #### Re:I don't understand Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

It won't *make* the migrate, but it will *ease* their migration.

MS don't just sell an OS, they sell an integrated solution. They sell a desktop OS and a server OS, with desktop and server apps that complement them. Hell, they even sell *games* too (and some pretty good ones at that, as it happens).

Make it easy to move from Windows to Linux, and you make it easier to migrate away from the rest of the integrated solution, and that can only be a bad thing for MS.
• #### Re:I don't understand Microsoft (Score:2)

I think they'd rather try and keep their lock on certain segments of the software market. If everything that ran under Windows could run flawlessly under Wine, why would anyone stick with Windows?
• #### Re:I don't understand Microsoft (Score:2)

Because (and this is a serious point, not trolling) it Just Works. Windows is the entire system (Well, in theory), WINE is merely an aspect of a whole.

Configuring WINE to work correctly on a Linux system takes time and skill which many people who run Windows because "Windows is a computer" will not even be bothered to try learning, let alone succeed at.

Until Linux and associated applications have the 'Just Works' factor of Windows, there is no way in hell that you're going to convert the masses, no matter
• #### Re:I don't understand Microsoft (Score:2)

You mean you don't understand Microsoft not doing something? Legal action against Wine is just speculation, is there any sign that they have even considered it? What, exactly, are you not understanding?
• #### Yeah that should protect them from getting sued (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:24AM (#12499172) Journal
Because we all know Microsoft can't afford lawyers.

Surely MS haven't sued simply because they can see no legal grounds to do so. Otherwise they would have used this against Lindows.
• #### Re:Yeah that should protect them from getting sued (Score:2)

Surely MS haven't sued simply because they can see no legal grounds to do so.
And our angel lawyer more than likely made his offer knowing that defending his "clients" would be easy because suits would have no legal grounds.

This doesn't mean that his offer is a Bad Thing ©, just that he obviously balanced risk vs reward...
• #### But does it have... (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:25AM (#12499184) Homepage Journal
the LAW on it's side?

Not trolling here, and neither AIAL (am I a lawyer), but can Wine be sued for reverse engineering (definition may vary) Windows APIs/functionality under the DMCA?

From what we've seen in the past, even something as simple/straightforward like pressing the shift key can be construed as "intentionally breaking copy protection mechanisms" by sue-happy companies.

Is reverse engineering document formats (OpenOffice), OS APIs (Wine), illegal under the DMCA, or can it be spun as such?

• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:2, Insightful)

I think we've seen that just about anything can be spun as illegal under the DMCA.
• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:3, Informative)

No, reverse engineering for compatibility is defined as legal by the DMCA. There's an exception for it, for exactly the examples you've cited (document formats). As long as there's no copyright violation involved, I'd say they're on pretty firm ground, legally.
• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:3, Funny)

What exactly is the point of using an acronym which you then have to spell out? I mean IANAAE (I am not an acronym expert), but I thought the point of acronyms was brevity?
• #### Retro-Activeness (Score:2)

Dumb question here... but didn't Wine pre-date the DMCA anyhow? Is there some grandfathering?

Suppose you wanted to call any reverse engineering illegal (shudder!) -- if that happened before the DMCA and now the project is just in maintence mode, can the DMCA still apply? I'd hope not.
• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:4, Informative)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @11:07AM (#12499685) Homepage Journal
...can Wine be sued for reverse engineering ... Windows APIs/functionality under the DMCA?

No.

The nasty provisions of the DMCA are there to prevent people from disabling copy protection and from falsely creating or removing "copyright management information", which means things like holograms on the outside of packages as well as simple copyright notices in code.

Copyright only covers the particular expression of a concept. APIs have been held to be concepts, and you can't copyright them. You can copyright

• The source code for your version of the API
• A binary library implementing the API
• A book about an API
• A book comparing two versions of an API
• Etc.

To protect an idea or concept, you have to use a patent. You can't patent an API, and even if you could it's not protected by the nasty provisions of the DMCA. I'm pretty sure any patents on document formats will be thrown out, too.

Regarding reverse engineering: don't sweat it. As long as you are only looking at what a program does, it makes no legal difference whether you are looking at what bits it sends on a wire or what output it makes on a screen. It's only if you disassemble the program and use the disassembled instructions as your own that you are guilty of copyright infringement.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but I do play one on the net.

• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:3, Informative)

It's only if you disassemble the program and use the disassembled instructions as your own that you are guilty of copyright infringement.

Further, if you disassemble the program and read the disassembly to understand what it does, then write your own program that does the same thing, you are not guilty of copyright infringement.

• #### Re:But does it have... (Score:2)

Not_A_Lawyer here;

Since the Wine project started way before DMCA, wouldn't it be excluded from prosecution?

Yes, I AM ignorant.
• #### WINE (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:26AM (#12499197)
I wonder why Microsoft wouldn't actually PARTICIPATE in this project, or even write a low-cost version of it's own to (yes, I'm going to say it on Slashdot) sell.

Sure, it's kind of stabbing it's main flagship product in the back, but isn't that what their "Windows Lite" for the Asian markets do?

• #### Re:Agreed, the article's premise is BS (Score:2)

I forgot another one: IBM v. Compaq

Being big doesn't necessarily make you good.
• #### Re:Agreed, the article's premise is BS (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward
the idea that this somehow changes IBM's view of Wine is so naive it's almost hard to believe this hit the front page of Slashdot.

Obviously somone doesn't read Slashdot very often
• #### Re:Agreed, the article's premise is BS (Score:2)

Well, Microsoft isn't just some IT company. And I doubt IBM has more lawyers than the entire IT industry if you include Microsoft. You just don't provoke the world's other superpower.

But the article's premise is still BS. IBM has millions of dollars of legal budget, with Eben that will be millions of dollars + 1 lawyer. That won't be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

IBM will probably continue to not support WINE, for mostly technical reasons.
• #### Stoner's Pot World (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:29AM (#12499226)
Your Rights Online: Wine Now Has Big-Time Lawyers On Its Side

"Man what a jip, false advertising!"

I thought this story was about internet wine sales finally being legalized!

• #### Re:Stoner's Pot World (Score:2)

Stoners Pot Palace

Man, that is flagrant false advertising!!
• #### Re:Stoner's Pot World (Score:2)

Stoners Pot Palace

Man, that is flagrant false advertising!!

I hate when that happens. I remember something incorrectly, then when I go to fact-check my memory on Google, I get false corroboration from others who made the same mistake. D'oh!

• #### BIg Deal (Score:4, Informative)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:31AM (#12499251)
Does anyone seriously think IBM are overly concerned about being sued by Microsoft if they contributed to wine. The most likely reason they dont is because its just not interesting form them, just like its not interesting for most companies.

Would someone like to post list of FOSS projects that have been killed due to litigation, or even threat of litigation. I assume this list must be quite lengthy given the amount slashdotters bang on about it.
• #### Hear that? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:33AM (#12499261)
Hear that? That's the sound of Microsoft shaking in its boots. Really! Can you hear it?

Yeah, me neither.

I'm sorry, that's rude, but the big problem with lawsuits isn't just having one thrown at you, it's the long and drawn-out process of having to see it all the way through to the end. Forget about the merits of the case, if you've got a lawsuit coming, and you're small, you're a hell of a lot less worried about a guilty verdict and a hell of a lot more worried about going bankrupt, because in the big time lawyers prey on fears of the latter more than the former.

If Microsoft wants to sue, they're going to do it whether or not there's a bunch of lawyers working pro bono on the case. You'd need an entire army of tech-minded geeks engaging in "open source law" (in quotes not to refer to open source software, but to "open source journalism", which was a pretty horrible catch-phrase but analogous to this situation...). In which case, maybe this dept could act as a sort of marshalling station.

But still, if they were thinking about dropping the gauntlet before, they're not going to be deterred now.
• #### Re:Hear that? (Score:2)

Who exactly would Microsoft sue? It's more likely that they're telling people they'll sue customers - according to Eben Mogels linux.conf.au speech this is far more likely than lawsuits against developers. The SFLC isn't so much about defending a lawsuit, it's more about strong and credible FUD fighting.
• #### Re:Hear that? (Score:5, Interesting)

<hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @11:39AM (#12500059)
"I'm sorry, that's rude, but the big problem with lawsuits isn't just having one thrown at you, it's the long and drawn-out process of having to see it all the way through to the end. Forget about the merits of the case, if you've got a lawsuit coming, and you're small, you're a hell of a lot less worried about a guilty verdict and a hell of a lot more worried about going bankrupt, because in the big time lawyers prey on fears of the latter more than the former."

How right you are.

I live about 10 miles from the biggest casino in the world [foxwoods.com] (and its not in Vegas). There was a case years ago where an elderly couple here saved their entire lives to buy a plot of land right on a busy corner so they could invest in the Dunkin Donuts franchise as part of their retirement. They wanted to own the Dunkin Donuts on this corner and live off of the profits.

This plot of land was also in a key location for the nearby casino to put some advertising and an employee/patron parking lot... so they sued the elderly couple and took them to court (with absolutely no valid reason for the lawsuit).

Years later and many delays and continuances, the elderly couple's life savings was completely drained holding up their legal end of the battle. This couple already owned the land that they wanted to put this Dunkin Donuts on.

The casino gave them one final offer: Give us the deed to the land and we won't continue to sue you. Since the couple wanted some money to live off of for the rest of their golden years, they gave in and gave the casino the land.. and in exchange the casino dropped their lawsuit.

I have one word for them: FUCKERS ! (And I'm Native American too, but their abuses on this particular casino/reservation go WAY beyond tribal honor).

This stuff makes me want to vomit.

• #### Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:33AM (#12499264) Journal
I would have thought that IBM etc. don't get involved because it's better to produce your own applications than reproduce the 'chasing a moving target' scenario which was the exact thing that killed OS/2.
• #### Re:Hmm (Score:2)

Probably true except that even writing for windows today (on windows) is a moving target.

The beauty of Wine is that it's not officially supported by any large companies. but is aiming at a stable target. See MS cannot really just break their API to spite Wine anymore. Wine isn't shooting for longhorn compatibility, it's shooting for ~ win2k compatibility.

IBM at the time was supposed to be getting windows compatibility from MS, but instead got the shaft (ungreased).

I would think that OS/2 (and it's wi
• #### Re:Hmm (Score:2)

Yeah, IBM is never (or at least until any applicable statute of limitations expires) going to touch WINE because of the OS/2's win16/32 compatibility layer mess.
• #### The bigger picture (Score:4, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:38AM (#12499345)
I applaud this effort, but I think people should also look at the larger picture.

We need to think about representation in the government. Lawyers can defend within the boundaries of the law. But, what laws will they have to fight? What laws will protect them?

From patent law to the fight for telecommunications control there are important decisions being made by our government. I think that there are a lot of special interests being served. The OSS movement needs a voice in Washington and even at the state level.

I really hate seeing so many industry-driven bills going before congress. Many decisions will affect the way you design software, use the internet, and even watch television. There are a lot of college grads who can't immediately finding work. Send them out to represent the needs and desires of the OSS community.
• #### Microsoft = 600lb gorilla (Score:4, Funny)

<arch_angel16@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @10:49AM (#12499465) Homepage
So WINE now has free legal representation. Microsoft has tens of billions of dollars and high priced lawyers. Hey folks, here's a bit of comparison: Bill's probably spending more on XBOX360 than the government of Canada did on its yearly budget!

Saying this is a david vs goliath situation isn't even close to accurate.
• #### Re:Microsoft = 600lb gorilla (Score:2)

Up here in Canada, we currently don't HAVE a budget, you insensitive clod!
• #### The Lawyers should first target Cedega. (Score:2, Insightful)

What is the standing of their GPL compliance?
• #### Re:The Lawyers should first target Cedega. (Score:2, Interesting)

What is the standing of their GPL compliance?

Why on Earth would their GPL compliance be an issue?

Wine used to be BSD licenced (or similar, I forget the exact details) and that is what they based their product on.

Wine later changed their licence to stop other companies using the code without contributing back.

Since licence changes are not retroactive, your question makes no sense.
• #### IBM's OS/2 code to help WINE? (Score:2)

Why couldn't IBM 'donate' it's OS/2 code to the WINE team to
(a) allow even more support for Windows apps.
(b) get some of that groovy 32-bit multi-threading goodness out to the public
(c) flip Microsoft the bird for what MS actually did to OS/2 when it launched.

I'd give them a lollipop for that. (OS/2 was the ONLY operating system that I have ever bought. and I still think it handled multi-threading better then anything else I have run since then.)
• #### Great! Now if I could just run VISIO 2003 on WINE! (Score:2)

As an annual event, I try to depart from the M$hive 100%. My last foray brought me VERY close to freedom, but I was tripped up by the need to create and share VISIO files with the M$ world. Apparently WINE is struggling with issues on this front and there was no near-term solution.

I'm not suggesting it's the WINE project's fault, it's just the way it is.

• #### Good news. (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @11:21AM (#12499863)
It will be excellent if IBM and other big players will participate in Wine.

First, this will mean that more programs will get support. (Applications like AutoCAD, which doesn't quite work yet.)

Second, since I started using the Mac, I've become interested in the Darwine project, which aims to make Windows programs run on the Mac without running Windows in an emulator; this project aims to combine Qemu and Wine to run the Wine code natively on the Mac iron while emulating only the application code. Big support behind Wine will likely mean a better Windows-like operating layer not only on x86 systems running, say, Linux, but also on non-x86 systems that are candidates for running the occasional Windows program.

Third, IBM has OS/2 code, which contains some of the same code as Windows itself. I'm not saying that IBM could submit that code directly into Wine, but IBM could have a clean-room implementation of some of the most important functions, using a plain-English specification written by programmers with access to the code. Not to mention that it means a lot of Wine bugs will get fixed. This is good news!

• #### Sorta Thanks to Wine :) (Score:3, Interesting)

<sherwin@am[ ]n.us ['ira' in gap]> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @12:03PM (#12500403) Homepage Journal
I use Wine all the time.

Kind of, anyways. I use Cedega, Transgaming's not-totally-free wine branch focused on gaming.

It means I can play many of the Windows games I want to play on Linux.

I happily live in a MS free household. I still play games on my PC, games that wouldn't be possible on a console (RTS, and MMORPG).

TransgamingWine relations are rocky sometimes, but I'm glad both communities are around. They make my life easier.

Sure, it'd be nice if all the developers built Linux versions of their games/apps. But if they find out a significant portion of the user base runs on Wine, they start trying to run their apps inside the company on Wine (some random developer almost always picks it up (Blizzard with World of Warcraft, and I know Secondlife developers have played with it).

Now there's talk of internal attempts to build native linux clients for both World of Warcraft (there was an early beta, but never a release), and Secondlife promises eventual linux support.

Using Windows games/apps on Linux, inside of Wine, demonstrates to developers that there is, indeed, a market for native versions.

Truly, its the best counter argument to "Linux is not a gaming platform, stick it Windows".

I do not believe that it makes developers lazy, and only code for Windows. They were only coding for Windows before; Linux efforts have one way to go, up.

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