Subject: Meaning of "combined work"?
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <shap@eros-os.org>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 10:39:10 -0500
Wed, 27 Dec 2000 10:39:10 -0500
On a completely different subject...

I would appreciate some help and input from this group concerning the meaning of "combined
work" in a component-based system. The context is that I am trying to describe how GPL
is to be interpreted in the context of EROS, which is a component system. The issues
that EROS raises are as follows:

1. Applications tend to be made up of multiple, independently compiled programs (which
we call components) that call each other using local RPC. It is not clear when such
a collection of components should be considered a combined work. It is therefore unclear
when the entirety must be distributed under GPL.  For those of you more familiar with
Windows in this context, a reasonable analogy is to imagine a world of COM components
in which all components are implemented as out of process servers.

2. Because applications can be split into components this way, there is a natural temptation
to dodge the bullet by arguing that components do not constitute a combined work.

3. Some of the things that collaborators will want to add to the system go into places
that are security critical, and I strongly wish to ensure that the trusted computing
base remains purely open source.

Roughly speaking, (1) and (2) are basically the same issues raised by dynamic linking,
but the binding between the components is even weaker than the binding provided by dynamic
linking. The very notion of combination therefore becomes slippery.

I have attempted to give a set of yardsticks at

    http://www.eros-os.org/legal/terms.html

I would very much appreciate comments, revisions, additions, or criticisms.


Jonathan


On a completely different subject...
 
I would appreciate some help and input from this group concerning the meaning of "combined work" in a component-based system. The context is that I am trying to describe how GPL is to be interpreted in the context of EROS, which is a component system. The issues that EROS raises are as follows:
 
1. Applications tend to be made up of multiple, independently compiled programs (which we call components) that call each other using local RPC. It is not clear when such a collection of components should be considered a combined work. It is therefore unclear when the entirety must be distributed under GPL.  For those of you more familiar with Windows in this context, a reasonable analogy is to imagine a world of COM components in which all components are implemented as out of process servers.
 
2. Because applications can be split into components this way, there is a natural temptation to dodge the bullet by arguing that components do not constitute a combined work.
 
3. Some of the things that collaborators will want to add to the system go into places that are security critical, and I strongly wish to ensure that the trusted computing base remains purely open source.
 
Roughly speaking, (1) and (2) are basically the same issues raised by dynamic linking, but the binding between the components is even weaker than the binding provided by dynamic linking. The very notion of combination therefore becomes slippery.
 
I have attempted to give a set of yardsticks at
 
    http://www.eros-os.org/legal/terms.html
 
I would very much appreciate comments, revisions, additions, or criticisms.
 
 
Jonathan