I would not have expected anything more or less from RMS.
Just a very consistent character overall.
What is the meaning behind ‘Please DTRT in the directory.’ as RMS states at the end of his post?
“Do The Right Thing,” perhaps? As far as what that means, I just assume he means (to developers) don’t use it, (to users) complain about developers using it/sway developers from using it, (and to the React developers) change the license to make React free software. Or something.
EDIT: On second thought, perhaps it’s an indication to do something with the FSF’s free software directory?
I think your edit’s suggestion is correct, because the linked post is to directory-discuss, the discussion mailing list for the FSF’s free software directory. So I read the post as saying: “The React.js license is nonfree. Someone please update the FSF free software directory accordingly.”
Stallman’s statement was corrected within two hours by the reply https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/directory-discuss/2017-01/msg00006.html and no further discussion has been necessary. That’s the real story.
The patent grant was also discussed when it was added to zstd (compression library).
I think this is mostly an issue for corporations large enough to potentially find themselves in a legal battle with FB.
My personal concern was more the question if this somehow limits license compatibility with other licenses that contain patent clauses (GPL, Apache).
IANAL, but consider if FB hadn’t created and distributed the patent grant file. My guess is we would probably be worse off. But creating it draws attention to something normally invisible, because I don’t think any software license automatically protects you from patent litigation.
Also not a lawyer, but Apache 2.0 explicitly mentions patents. As I understand it, it says that you have an automatic grant to all relevant patents owned by all contributors, but if you claim one of your patents is infringed by people using the software, you lose your licence to the software.
Compare to the React licence, which says you lose your licence to the software if you sue Facebook over any patent at all, regardless of whether it’s related to React or not.
The Apache 2.0 licence is a well-regarded Free Software licence, but the React licence, it seems, is not.
I’ll see myself out. :)
Please don’t remove comments even if they’re incorrect–it makes reading threads later a lot harder.
But editing a comment to state that you retract it would seem valuable. (Elsewhere I’d propose striking it out, e.g. by enclosing the whole shebang in <s></s>; alas, no strikeouts on Lobsters.)
This is incorrect. If you sue Facebook over any patent at all, it does not terminate your software license. It does terminate the additional patent grant. So the patent grant plus the BSD license gives you strictly more legal protection than the BSD license alone does. The Apache 2.0 license also revokes the patent grant, but not the entire license, if you initiate patent litigation against the copyright holder.
See the last question at https://code.facebook.com/pages/850928938376556
Apache 2.0 covers you, but the point still stands for other libraries licensed under licenses such as BSD. I’d presume GPL(v2) also protects you against patents, but this is just an assumption. It would be nice to get confirmation for this from a source that is at least somewhat official (regarding US jurisdiction).
GPLv2 does nothing for patents that MIT or BSD doesn’t. That was one of several reasons for GPLv3.
When Facebook first changed their license and patents information on all their projects, they were troublesome. But a lot of people worked to point out the problems, and they very quickly updated them to a new version which was acceptable to most companies.
Interesting. To my knowledge this is the first of the main organizations that people look to as arbiters of license free-ness that’s made an official comment either way, despite React being around for a few years, and the license getting quite a bit of debate (although the license was modified in both 2014 and 2015, which maybe discouraged any early definitive opinions until things settled down). The Open Source Initiative hasn’t weighed in on whether it’s officially an Open Source license, and Debian hasn’t determined whether it’s DFSG-free (someone proposed packaging it for Debian in 2015, but afaict that generated neither discussion nor a package).
So this is where I get confused. What the license seems to be saying is that if I engage Facebook in litigation over some kind of patent of theirs, the license that they are granting me (to use the software freely, etc.) is revoked. If that happens, then what? Would it then be technically illegal to use React? If so, under what law – copyright law? Is this really enforceable?
What I’m really getting at is, is RMS being a hard-ass and this is actually pretty typical, or is Facebook being sly and hiding restrictions in their software that don’t need to be there?
Yes, the license is enforced under copyright law. It’s the same mechanism the GNU license uses to enforce its restriction that you must distribute source code with your binary. If you don’t fulfill the requirements of the license, then you don’t have a license to use the code any more.
What the “first generation” of open source licenses doesn’t deal with is patent rights. Which means you can end up with a license to copy the code but not a license to use the code. Various attempts have been made to address that, including this FB language.
Whether and how all this enforceable is the eternal question of all open source licenses, and indeed all licenses. :)
No. The patent grant is an additional grant of rights to React users, above and beyond the BSD license. The patent grant may be revoked if you sue (or countersue) Facebook, but the original BSD license cannot be revoked.