Corba interfaces and GPL freedom

James Michael DuPont mdupont777 at
Wed Sep 17 06:33:22 UTC 2003

--- Iain Barker <iain at> wrote:
> I am concerned whether a Corba interface can be used by non-free
> software to
> circumvent the freedoms and requirements of the GPL license.

This is a similar issue as with the introspector.
I dont aggree with your assessment any more.

> I
> realise "mere
> aggregation" vs the definition of a copyright derived work is a
> complex
> scenario, so I will try to keep my posting generic.
> A proprietary vendor could create non-free software that functionally
> would
> amount to a derived work, without actually making a derived work
> within the
> meaning of copyright law. Would this break the spirit of the GPL
> while
> complying with its terms, hence not be enforcable under copyright
> law?

I dont think it will.

> I have seen the Corba 'serverizing' analogy discussed on this list,
> and have
> looked around the FSF website for clarification but I don't see any
> position
> statement from FSF addressing this issue. The nearest entry in the
> GPL-FAQ is the "pipes and sockets" definition, which suggests this
> form of
> abstract inter-process communication is an acceptable mechanism for
> software to interwork with non-free modules.

basically this is the issue of creating a new front end and linking it
Same issue with xmlrpc, same issue with serialization. not covered by
the gpl.

> I've also read the earlier icense-discuss postings of Mr Perens, Mr
> Stallman
> and others regarding the use of Corba in this manner. The absence of
> a
> position from the FSF appears to be potentially damaging the GPL
> community,
> which risks losing freedom to the proponents of non-free software.

There is no position because it is a losing positiion.

> Here is an example of Corba 'serverizing':
> A GPL application is modified by a vendor of non-free software, who
> adds a
> Corba server API to the application. The vendor releases the source
> code to
> the GPL application and modifications per the GPL terms.

like metawrap. like samba. like .. you name it.


> The vendor then creates a non-free Corba client application which
> uses that
> API but incorporates none of the GPL code. The source code to the
> client
> application is not released by the vendor. Non-free applications
> could also
> be used as Corba servers to a GPL client application in the same
> manner.

This is the openess of the network.

MySql maintains that this is linking and requires clients licenses, I
think this is bogus.

> Essentially the freedom of the GPL codebase is reduced either way
> around.

I dont think the freedom of the codebase is reduced,
i think that you are just pointing out that the freedom of the users is

This freedom of the users is a fair thing, and it has to be respected. 
The gpl is not appliciable to situations like this, because it is a
EULA agreement that is needed to cover situations like that. 


James Michael DuPont

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