This is an unofficial snapshot of the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG21 Core Issues List revision 112e. See for the official list.


290. Should memcpy be allowed into a POD with a const member?

Section: 6.8  [basic.types]     Status: NAD     Submitter: Garry Lancaster     Date: 12 Jun 2001

Following the definition in Clause 11 [class] paragraph 4 the following is a valid POD (actually a POD-struct):

    struct test
        const int i;

The legality of PODs with const members is also implied by the text of [] bullet 15.1, sub-bullet 2 and 11.9.3 [class.base.init] bullet 4.2.

6.8 [basic.types] paragraph 3 states that

For any POD type T, if two pointers to T point to distinct objects obj1 and obj2, if the value of obj1 is copied into obj2, using the memcpy library function, obj2 shall subsequently hold the same value as obj1.

[Note: this text was changed by TC1, but the essential point stays the same.]

This implies that the following is required to work:

    test obj1 = { 1 };
    test obj2 = { 2 };
    memcpy( &obj2, &obj1, sizeof(test) );

The memcpy of course changes the value of the const member, surely something that shouldn't be allowed.

Suggested resolution:

It is recommended that 6.8 [basic.types] paragraph 3 be reworded to exclude PODs which contain (directly or indirectly) members of const-qualified type.

Rationale (October, 2004): [] paragraph 4 already forbids modifying a const member of a POD struct. The prohibition need not be repeated in 6.8 [basic.types].