How do you deal with the React patent / licensing issue?


#1

The topic @msavin started in What do we the community do with Blaze? kind of triggerd me in opening this topic. He writes:

And that made me curious. To be honest, I don’t really read the LICENSE.md when npm installing package x. So when MDG announced that they were dropping Blaze (indeed; old news, they don’t seem to be doing this anymore), I started to research React purely on the tech, and I started to like it. So… I started to use it in our projects.

But now; triggered by the what @msavin wrote, (see the quote above) I researched a little on this subject. And it’s basically all about the PATENTS file that comes with each open source repo. This proves again, open source is not per se free. In this case you seem to sell your company to Facebook by using its software. Or should I say you’re giving Facebook an option to buy claim your company on a later time; as that seems to be more correct.

Someone explained the issue perfectly well on Hacker News:

He writes about React Native, but this is also the case for React and even Immutable.js.

To be clear. This is not an issue for the individual developer that works on his hobby projects. But if you are running a reasonably sized company, this is most definite something to think about.

So at everyone that’s making money with the development of software; are you still using Facebooks libraries? How do you deal with this?


I thought this was a duplicate of this other related topic. But it’s not really. I’m interested here in a conversation about how to deal with licensing issues. Not about alternatives for the software:


#3

My hope is that community pressure will push Facebook to change or clarify this.

My fear is that the noise around this will lead people to use Angular 2 and we’ll have yet more fragmentation just when it looked like all of that might be settling down a bit.


#4

Indeed - have a blog post on this coming. This problem applies not just to React but to Relay, GraphQL, etc. It can be a problem to startups, to freelance workers and clients and even MDG.

Facebook is not just a social network, they’re also IT, advertising, drones, VR, etc…


#5

This is exactly why Meteor needs to re-ignite the burners under Blaze and get it back on the agenda.


#6

Please let me know when your blog post comes out.


Riot.js with Meteor
#7

I’d also be interested in that post.

And would love to see a Blaze-Comeback. Kinda like it. :slight_smile:


#8

@smeijer Good job writing this topic up with focus on the problem. I concur with you and the way you got into React. I will be looking forward to your post as well. This patent/licensing issue with React and using it takes away from the reason to even have a company and thrive with your own unique ideas.

@tomRedox Yes, we really need Facebook to address this in one way or another. All the discussions I have read are mostly one ended. At one point Facebook seem to have updated the license but not really changing the concept.

It is amazing how a bigger light have not been shone on this.


#9

I’ve been wondering when the other shoe would drop. For what it’s worth’ some of us from the .NET community who have been slow to jump on the React bandwagon were burned by Microsoft in similar ways. This isn’t new. Or unusual. Or confined to just Facebook and the React ecosystem. But it does take going through a tech cycle or two to know to be cautious of licensing issues like this.


#10

Care to elaborate further? To be honest, I haven’t viewed React’s licensing as a real risk to my startup. But I haven’t been through the tech cycles to see the pattern.


#11

Mono was dealing with the same issues 15 years ago. It all worked out in the end when everything got released under MIT; but for 5 or 10 years, folks like Richard Stallman, Brett Smith, Paul Frields and more were weighing in; and there was lots of back-and-forth about whether Mono should be included in default linux distros. GNOME decided against including it, as I recall; while Fedora decided to include it. Later, Ubuntu took it out again.

And keep in mind that folks like Stallman were so against including Mono in the distros because they had been burned in the previous cycle with X-Windows.

This kind of patent/licensing issue has definitely been cause of people forking open-source projects in the past and creating separate distros.


#12

How about use Preact instead https://github.com/developit/preact


#13

@smeijer,

Thanks for the links to the patents issue on the React and other Facebook ‘open source’ tools.

As a company that makes money off its Meteor application, and with some real innovation under the hood, we couldn’t risk it. If it’s not MIT / BSD / Apache, we don’t touch it (unless we can purchase an outright license, IF it’s something we really need and can’t find alternatives).

I have commented about it here: React - Facebook patent - a problem? focusing on the intent / interest which for us makes it crystal clear we shouldn’t get even close to it until the license becomes cleaner.


#14

I hope your blog is out! Would love to read it! Another option is that we can always clear our doubts regarding the whole licensing/patent issue by consulting any professional well known patent agency like this one one for ex, so that we won’t have to keep worrying about it.