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WordPress Ditches ReactJS Over Facebook's Patent Clause (techcrunch.com) 72

An anonymous reader quote TechCrunch: Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of the popular open source web publishing software WordPress, has said the community will be pulling away from using Facebook's React JavaScript library over concerns about a patent clause in Facebook's open source license. In a blog post explaining the decision yesterday, Mullenweg said he had hoped to officially adopt React for WordPress -- noting that Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com which he also founded, had already used React for the Calypso ground-up rewrite of WordPress.com a few years ago, while the WordPress community had started using it for its major Gutenberg core project.

But he said he has changed his mind after seeing Facebook dig in behind the patent clause -- which was recently added to the Apache Software Foundation's list of disallowed licenses... [H]e writes that he cannot, in good conscience, require users of the very widely used open source WordPress software to inherit the patent clause and associated legal risk. So he's made the decision to ditch React.

Facebook can revoke their license if a React user challenges Facebook's patents.
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WordPress Ditches ReactJS Over Facebook's Patent Clause

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  • by Captain Ramage ( 4567091 ) on Saturday September 16, 2017 @05:09PM (#55211293)
    Facebook wouldn't do anything untoward, would they? I mean, they were founded on the utmost propriety and honesty, right?
  • by SysEngineer ( 4726931 ) on Saturday September 16, 2017 @05:25PM (#55211345)
    React is is JavaScript wrapping HTML. Vue is easy to understand because it wraps HTML with JS. There are some state issues that vuex does not solve. but it is much better then React.
    • React is is JavaScript wrapping HTML. Vue is easy to understand because it wraps HTML with JS.

      So.......they are both Javascript wrapping html? Is that what you mean?

    • At best, this statement is a gross oversimplification (that React/Vue "wrap" HTML) and at worst, completely wrong. React provides a construction library for the creation of a virtual DOM (which is not the same thing as HTML), and allows changes to the virtual DOM to reconciled with the actual DOM. Vue also uses a virtual DOM, but I have less experience with Vue and so can't speak authoritatively. React also provides a small-footprint programming paradigm and lifecycle management (again, similar to Vue).

      T

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 16, 2017 @05:29PM (#55211367)

    Here's the actual patent clause being discussed:

    https://github.com/facebook/rocksdb/blob/132013366d202dbd5d5c6463c60898bdd420055b/PATENTS [github.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We're moving to React, and in the past month we've lost our two best developers because of this. Two more are threatening to sue since their offer letters said they wouldn't be required to work with anything that wasn't open source. I feel the same way and might join them. Facebook is really doing a lot of damage to React with this stupidity.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Those guys are stupid, unless their contracts said that they wouldn't be required to work with anything that wasn't under an OSI approved license. Nothing I've heard indicates that the software has become close source, merely that it's become too dangerous to depend on.

  • WordPress is right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Saturday September 16, 2017 @06:10PM (#55211485)

    IANAL but I think WP is right. I don't know WP that much, so I will give example Apache. Assume Apache embeds FB code in their product and IBM uses that to create non open-source software and sell to Amazon. Amazon then sues FB for some e-commerce patent and now Amazon loses license to use IBM software if ReactJS has any FB patent. But Amazon already paid to IBM, so IBM will have to now defend it. Surely, IBM does not want to do it and being a member of Apache, it will tell Apache not to consume ReactJS. Replace Apache with any open source software and IBM with any non open-source software company and Amazon with a customer of this non open-source software company. FB needs to come clean if it wants to truly contribute to open source.

    • I don't think that's exactly right, Amazon wouldn't loose the license to the software (the BSD), but they would loose any Facebook patent license that ReactJs is potentially infringing, and then Facebook would sue back on those patents. Source [github.com].
      Still seems a risk and I think Apache made the right choice banning this license.
      • by u19925 ( 613350 )

        I said precisely that. Read it again! "Amazon loses license to use IBM software if ReactJS has any FB patent"

  • I'd love to see them use Polymer for the Dashboard. It's the better toolkit anyway, IMHO.

  • Not a lawer obviously, but my read is that both Apache and FB have a provision that says one's grant to use its software is revoked if you sue them for patent infringement. The difference is that Apache's revocation is limited to the work itself, whereas FB's revocation is unlimited: if you sue FB for the infringement of *any* patent, then your grant to React is revoked.

    So: both have a poison pill. But if you incorporate React into a product that is going to be used by a lot of downstream people, then you are putting them all at risk of losing permission to use React, just because they use your product. Not nice.

    The solution is to claw back the scope. FB can still get all the protection it needs, but it has to limit that protection to one specific product at a time. It can't use React as the trojan horse to win patent protection across the board.

    Good call, WordPress.

    • In this context... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mha ( 1305 ) on Sunday September 17, 2017 @02:28AM (#55212821) Homepage

      Here is a link to a question that sheds some light on aspects pretty much always overlooked in discussions. Most people don't seem to understand what the issue is because very few people participating in these discussions own patents or ever thought much about it.

      https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/14337/q-about-consequences-of-a-software-license-amendment-regarding-patents-facebook [stackexchange.com]

      Basically, the issue is this:

      If a company, let's say a biotech company, owns patents - not on software, on _anything_ - finds that Facebook infringes on their patent they cannot sue them if they happen to use one of Facebook'S projects. So if Facebook were to start a spinoff that uses IP from the biomedical company they can do so, they wrote a blank check fro themselves. You have to trust them not to do that.

      The above is not a statement of fact, it's the question that still is open (see link). The one answer there from yesterday (the Q itself is from Oct 2016) does not actually answer it either.

    • But if you incorporate React into a product that is going to be used by a lot of downstream people, then you are putting them all at risk of losing permission to use React, just because they use your product. Not nice.

      Not just because they use your product, but because they use your product and sue one of the upstreams for patent infringement. It's explicitly both conditions.

      I support Facebook's attempt here to defuse the disaster that is software patents, but I can also see how this more activist license

  • Reminder this is the same Wordpress that believes they own the copyright on any template that works with Wordpress, even if it was written from scratch and doesn't contain any derivative works.

    Whatever problem WordPress has with licensing, they helped fuel it.

    And what's WordPress planning anyways, suing Facebook for patent infringement sometime down the road?

    • Your argument is: WordPress is bad. Therefore, Facebook being bad is not so bad anymore.

      This is a bad and stupid excuse. Children try that pattern, like Timmy did also take a cookie. Still cookie stealing is forbidden no matter what.

    • Reminder this is the same Wordpress that believes they own the copyright on any template that works with Wordpress, even if it was written from scratch and doesn't contain any derivative works.

      Do you have a source for WordPress claiming copyright ownership of all themes? I've used WordPress quite extensively and have never heard of this.

      And what's WordPress planning anyways, suing Facebook for patent infringement sometime down the road?

      They're protecting their users. Suppose WordPress kept using ReactJS and

      • Do you have a source for WordPress claiming copyright ownership of all themes? I've used WordPress quite extensively and have never heard of this.

        https://wordpress.org/news/200... [wordpress.org] "One sentence summary: PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not required." The only way someone can set conditions on the work you're working with is if they have some sort of copyright claim on it. If you fork a WordPress theme, then they have such a claim and can say "Derivatives must be GPL as a condition of redistribution". They still claim this even if you wrote a theme from scratch.

        They're protecting their users. Suppose WordPress kept using ReactJS and I used WordPress. Now, I decide to sue Facebook for violating some patent of mine. Due to Facebook's licensing, I'd lose my license to use ReactJS and, thus, wouldn't be able to use WordPress. All WordPress-based sites of mine would immediately need to come down lest Facebook sue me back. It's a method of suppressing patent infringement lawsuits. By WordPress switching from ReactJS to an alternative, they protect their users from this.

        If you believe software patents are bullshit (as I do)

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday September 17, 2017 @03:35AM (#55212929) Homepage

    Decouple it from MySQL.

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]

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