What does the leaking of Winamp’s source code mean for WACUP?

The tl;dr is it’s unhelpful & isn’t something that WACUP can make use of due to it having been leaked (even if it’s an older revision from the AOL era) & isn’t something I’m going to download & use as I’ll explain later.

The key part of the Winamp source code that I’ve always wanted to see officially released since starting WACUP was the modern skin engine (gen_ff.dll - which is Winamp3 in the form of a plug-in) & that seems to be in there. However due to the messiness of code ownership & my prior history with Winamp & the current owners (less about them the better), making a derivative from what’s leaked would open up myself to potential legal issues.

Now for the rambling thoughts & commentary about this happening…

The Winamp source code that was first leaked on the 23rd May 2020 from information received along with some screenshots posted along with it indicate it is legitimate & is from around November 3rd 2013 which puts it around a week or two prior to what would be the first 5.66 release build.

It’s not obviously clear when it was actually obtained nor who it came from - not me as it’s counteractive to what I’m trying to do with WACUP. Nor does it explain why it’s just gained more interest with being posted again on reddit in April 2021 in relation to a copy of the code that was uploaded to github in late 2020.

Having worked on Winamp around that period of time, a code dump from that date is a somewhat odd choice to see leaked when a copy of the final 5.666 source code prior to it being prepared for handover to the now current owners since early January 2014 would have been better than what appears to be in-between 5.65 & 5.66 (i.e. it misses a number of key bug fixes & changes).

I need to note that there were still others within AOL who would have had access to Winamp’s source code & possibly still do depending on what’s been done to all of that since AOL was bought / merged / reorganised over the past 8 years.

The legal implications of the source code being leaked is a concern & it would be reckless imho for legitimate projects to start using it just like with the 2020 Nintendo source code leaks. I’d assume it’ll instead be trawled over as a means to find security issues to target existing Winamp installs. If it had been legitimately released then it could have been used for good to improve Winamp compatibility in other software (like was done with Milkdrop being released & that helping to improve ProjectM’s compatibility) rather than it now being tainted & effectively only good for nefarious means.

There’s also an issue in that without looking at what’s been released but with prior knowledge about what is likely in there, there’ll be code & libraries present that was only licensed to AOL & not for the current owners nor unknown developers to use. Now those who’ve leaked this probably don’t care about such matters but others do & that is another reason why trying to use the source code is quite unhelpful.

Now that a copy of source code exists in the wild, I honestly don’t see it making things magically different especially due to my prior point about legality issues as it also means nothing without active dev(s) who can build & maintain it. Plus the addition of certain features (e.g. modern skin support) in a short time after this code becoming known about to programs with existing sub-set of Winamp features (e.g. classic skin support which go back over 20 years at this point in time) would likely imply the usage (directly or otherwise) of the code which has been released & makes it an easy legal target.

Not that it was likely to happen, an official source code release would have been the only way for the community to actually benefit from the legacy of Winamp for Windows’s source code & do something good without the potential legal issues that now exist from this leak.

As historically parts of Winamp have been open sourced in a permissive manner such as a large part of the Winamp3 source code (minus the key parts of the skin engine to allow it to be re-built & make a new / fixed version of it) or AVS / Milkdrop (not that doing it for those plug-ins ever benefited Winamp).

So that’s my current take on Winamp’s source code being leaked & that for the most part I cannot see it as being viable (especially when it comes to WACUP) to be used for anything good. WACUP development will not be changed by this though it does mean I can’t accept / use work derived from it & would hope that the support I’ve been getting won’t just disappear as source code of any type without a developer isn’t useful & I’d like to believe I’m bringing something more that is worth maintaining that support.