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People who ridicule the notion of FUD causing actual harm, pay attention: this is a perfect example of the chilling effects of FUD on software projects.

Automattic didn't drop React because it doesn't like the license. Automattic dropped React because the FUD surrounding React's license might rub off on them (and WordPress). It's their right to do so and it's in the best interest of WordPress to avoid being dragged into the patent FUD but it's important to understand that this isn't an act of protest against Facebook, it's FUD in full effect.




The term "FUD" is typically used to denote "unreasonable" or "unfounded" fear/uncertainty/doubt. I'm not sure that it applies to situations where doubt is NOT unreasonable.


> I'm not sure that it applies to situations where doubt is NOT unreasonable.

It doesn't, but it does apply to this situation because the fear etc. is unreasonable. Utterly. Either you have an explicit patent license or the entire PATENTS file becomes inoperative and you have exactly what you would have had with a plain BSD license. It's simple logic. Authority after authority, including Automattic's own counsel, has tried to explain in detail that patent law is not immune to logic. But still the FUD keeps coming, and it's harmful to open source because this is the exact same "why risk it" FUD that has been used against open source in general for years. It's the old Microsoft line returned from the dead, after Microsoft themselves have abandoned it to become pretty decent OSS citizens.


Except that the implicit licence couldn't be terminated if you sued Facebook: https://i.imgur.com/geUPyXl.png


> the implicit licence couldn't be terminated

"Couldn't?" I think you just said the opposite of what you meant, and ended up being correct. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15257004 where I lay out the actual logic involved.


That's what I meant, although I did have a question mark on that in the image, so I was being confusing.

This is what had me questioning whether an implicit licence could be revoked: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15054849


Implicit patent license, the one assumed when your code is open sourced without an explicit patent agreement. The implicit license has no conditional termination clause where the explicit one does. The fear is not unreasonable.


There is no such thing as an implicit license, though. The absence of a license only indicates the absence of a license, i.e. no license.

There is no precedent for BSD/MIT implying any patent grant.

So in other words it's only the chance of an implicit patent grant, which may or may not actually hold up.

In fact, this entire argument is backwards. React is licensed under the BSD license and comes with an additional patent grant. If the BSD license would imply any patent grant, the additional patent grant would only count on top of that so the FB patent grant would actually be irrelevant. If that's not the case, there is evidently no implicit patent grant in the BSD license. You can't have it both ways.


Nobody knows if there is an implicit patent license or not for MIT / BSD Code. It's never been tested in court.


"never been tested in court" doesn't mean you can't have an opinion on whether it would hold up in court: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15051717

(e.g. many parts of the GPL have never been tested in court.)


The parent appears to be using the term FUD with this in mind, to suggest that the doubt is indeed unreasonable.


A deeply arrogant and ignorant notion. If you think this was about FUD you really don't understand why people protest React as a core component inside WordPress. Most people are well aware that they are unlikely to get into any kind of legal dispute with Facebook or otherwise. Nor is it an issue that Facebook chooses to license React the way it wants. And the majority are against software patents.


> A deeply arrogant and ignorant notion.

This sentence is quite arrogant in itself.

> If you think this was about FUD you really don't understand why people protest React as a core component inside WordPress.

Then please explain what this is about? Numerous other posts in this thread (including mine) have explained that you are strictly better off with the PATENT grant. I have yet to see a post that explains why this is bad without FUD.


FUD implies that a decision was mostly based on people's irrationality or misinformation about what the patents clause does or doesn't do. It's a lazy assumption not made by someone who has followed the discussions in the WP community, so yes it was both ignorant and arrogant.

> have explained that you are strictly better off with the PATENT grant

This point is irrelevant even granting the assumption that it does. You're inspecting the wording of the patent grant and gauging whether it is theoretically effective in deterring patent litigation and thereby conferring some kind of benefit to users of the software is (correct?). Well over 99.9% sites that use WordPress never have to worry about relevant patent litigation to start with, it's completely and utterly beside the point. Somehow this has blossomed into an argument that basically says 'our OSS software needs to come included with patent clauses for better protection'. It's ridiculous.

Why the FB license signals a bad fit comes from asking different questions.

Why is it there in the first place?

Because FB is a megacorp and operates like one, it is there to protect the interests of a megacorp. Not a slight on FB, but also not something we should welcome to package with every copy of our pure OSS software.

What is a consequence of non-standard clauses? Businesses and teams feel compelled to take up legal counsel. They may find that it turns out to be totally fine, as even Automattic found when it adopted React for Calypso. But others don't and the mere fact that the adoption of software is necessitating legal counsel adds an unnecessary and negative cost to choosing WordPress as a platform.

What kind of precedent does it set?

That non-standard additions to OSS licenses are fine for companies to impose. Alternatively, FB is a special case.

Does it undermine WP approach to OSS licenses and promoting these?

In WP we take no exceptions to GPL compliance and compatibility, no exceptions for obvious reasons. No business enjoys special privileges or exceptions. That's by design, WP stated goal is to democratize the web. Unstated goals mean that everybody is on equal footing, a level playing ground. You want to use WordPress? You can do so unreservedly as long as you convey the same exact freedoms that come with a GPL compatible license. No exceptions. Whether the patents clause is benign or not - it is a big fat sign that says "FB enjoys special privileges here". It complicates the picture by offering up a contradicting component by way of a non-standard clause. It introduces friction on a point where there should be no friction at all. It also encourages an ecosystem where multiple clauses are introduced with companies adding their own wordings to protect their business, it doesn't scale. No good reasons to support something that doesn't scale.

Who put the clause there?

A company that is hostile the open web, hostile to democracy, hostile to users and with a history of undermining startups while enjoying a monopoly position. It is entirely in-congruent with a world that WP wants to be in. It causes many people that use WP for whatever reason to be suspicious and wary of affiliating with or critically depending on anything this company does. That's not FUD, it's a reasonable position based on a cold hard assessment of what FB is.

But doesn't company X choosing React and determining it to be benign mean other users are worrying for nothing?

Any particular business might be fine with React, it all depends on what their project is and what their goals are. Other companies will explicitly avoid React for good reasons, some have done so on the basis of the patents clause. WP adopting core is making a decision for all people using WordPress and all future projects that would or would normally have chosen WordPress. It's a monumental decision, inviting different considerations. A platform that has pinned its success on offering something that is both free and licensed in a way to convey freedoms while working toward leveling the playing field can't just adopt a special license for all of its users merely on the basis that the software attached to the license currently leads the pack.

Everybody agrees software patents are bad, so why not embrace the patent clause?

I would guess virtually a 100% of WP users are anti-software patent. But clauses that protect corporations are not the solution.


You gave an impressively long comment, but here are my two cents:

There’s no precedent to set here. There’s already a license for BSD+PATENT, and it’s called Apache license. Is Apache setting a bad precedent as well?

Additionally, it’s not like companies licensing open source work under customized license is uncommon — tons of software do that, and Facebook is by no means the first. For example, OpenJDK customized GPL by adding a classpath exemption.

Why then, do you need to give Facebook special treatment, and make this look like a dangerous slippery slope? Oh yeah, because Facebook is a evil megacorp that’s “hostile to the open web”. How is this, as part of a discussion about the license, “completely and utterly pointless”?

This whole argument could be summarized into we want GPL, react’s license is not GPL (“In WP we take no exceptions to GPL compliance”). That’s it. Instead, you have to point to supposedly evil motives behind putting the PATENT file there, and yes, I’ll say it, using not-so-true arguments to spread FUD and perform a character assassination. It’s ridiculous.


FWIW because Apache is a thing, I always assume BSD/MIT means only what the license says it means. This is actually why I prefer large projects adopt Apache because it holds a lot more water by being an actual license with real legal language rather than just something cobbled together by programmers (though as a programmer I have to admit I prefer the brevity of BSD/MIT).

I don't understand how anyone complaining about the FB patent grant could honestly bet the farm on any implicit grants in BSD/MIT style licenses. The only logical conclusion if you're that scared of patents is to avoid anything without an explicit patent grant, i.e. sticking to Apache, GPL and friends.


> There’s already a license for BSD+PATENT, and it’s called Apache license. Is Apache setting a bad precedent as well?

That comparison is incorrect because the termination clauses are different. The patent license under Apache only terminates if you sue about the specific patents covering the software. By contrast, the Facebook patent license terminates if you sure Facebook (or an affiliate -- who is that?) over any patent whatsoever (including patents not covering the software, such as unrelated patents you own and which Facebook is infringing willfully because they know you dependent on React in your products).


Note that we're not talking about the specific details about the licenses. We're talking about "companies setting a precedent".

> > This point is irrelevant even granting the assumption that it does. You're inspecting the wording of the patent grant and gauging whether it is theoretically effective in deterring patent litigation and thereby conferring some kind of benefit to users of the software is (correct?).

You are also talking about the irrelevant stuff here.

I have no doubt Apache is a better license. But what Facebook is doing is by no means something new.


I'm not sure why you want to twist this in to something else.

> Instead, you have to point to supposedly evil motives behind putting the PATENT file there

No where do I imply FB has evil motives for instituting the patent clause, nor do I hold FB to account for putting it there, I don't even dispute in any particular way that it deters patent litigation (at least not for FB), nor do I speculate FB will use the clause offensively. It's their choice and it's reasonable from their point of view. It's a big corporation doing things in a big corporation way.

> perform a character assassination

I think you've assassinated my above comment. What I've stated here about FB is not unreasonable or unfair. It's very odd that you would feel the need to defend a corporation as if you are describing a person (character assassination?). Tell me what is factually incorrect about the way I've described FB here? It matters what effect this corporation has on the wider ecosystem. Corporations of that nature behave in a way to maximize their own interests. This is not a commentary on its developers or even their legal team, it's just acknowledging FB for what it is.

> we want GPL, react’s license is not GPL (“In WP we take no exceptions to GPL compliance”)

It's rather ironic that you took issue to my earlier comment calling out an ignorant and arrogant notion, then make several of your own. The assumption that this is about being hard line about one variation of an OSS license obscures the fundamental objections here (why leave out the fact that I referred to "compatibility", which many licenses are). I have no special affinity for GPL, nor do most others in WP. It's a license that conveys certain freedoms and levels the playing field, this is all I care about.

The 'no exceptions' is a simple first principle in play in the WP ecosystem that acknowledges that all parties should be party to the same conditions in order the obtain the maximal benefit for all users. The WP community has been fairly aggressive in doing that and it has paid off in a big way. Over time there's been some push back from some individual companies wanting to license things in their own more restrictive way (thereby taking away freedoms from other users). Some businesses were resistant about that thinking it would undermine profits, but this has proven to be false. In fact very few companies operating in the WP space use complicated licenses even where it is perfectly kosher (a split license on CSS is fine but hardly used by theme developers for example). This has done great things for the ecosystem, almost all themes & plugins and apps have a simple to understand license that provides great freedoms - everybody benefits.

This is a nuance that might not be grasped when people are just looking at the patent clause in a vacuum, but the way we've pressured compliance has been possible on the basis that no company is a special snowflake, everybody gets to play by the same rules. Putting React in core dents our ability to reason on that basis (this not a unanimous opinion but lack of unanimity to the contrary undermines WP reputation on this issue irregardless).


But I indeed talked about your “fundamental rejection” here: as I explained in the first half of my comment, no special treatment is given for Facebook, at all.

The fact that they happen to be a “evil megacorp” should not change this at all.


It was FUD before Apache Foundation placed React's license as Category X.

Now, it is not.


Why? If I spread the rumor "maybe bananas contain rat poison" and Whole Foods would stop stocking bananas, how would that in any way legitimise fears of rat poison in bananas?


Why?


Comfort can hurt. Automattic is not comfortable with the Facebook license and you say it like it's a baseless FUD but even if they get a 1% chance of going to court against Facebook then they rather not take that risk of litigation anytime in the future. It's a business decision for the long term as rewriting doesn't cost that much for them.


Did we read the same article? Automattic is not worried about the license. Automattic is worried about how others perceive the license and how that will lead to WordPress being perceived. They see no risk in the license, they see risk in how they will be perceived for being associated with the license.

The license is ONLY a problem if you intend to initiate litigation against Facebook and can't swap out React (or a React-using product you rely on) with something else. Something tells me the number of companies that a) will ever be in a situation to sue Facebook over patents, b) rely on React or React-based products, c) don't already infringe upon any other Facebook patent without using React, AND d) would be severely harmed if sued over React patents, is exceedingly small.

Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple only fulfill conditions a and b (although React is non-vital to their businesses). Most startups only fulfill conditions b and d. In order to meet all four conditions, your company would have to be built entirely on React (or other FB open source technologies), be small enough not to be able to replace React, not infringe on any of the many other patents FB holds and yet somehow own patents FB infringes on and want to actively sue them.

Deciding against React because of the patent situation for most companies is the equivalent of worrying about someone stealing your second million before you have even made a single dollar.


No, that's not what the article says. It says the fears around the license are something they do not want to have to address within their ecosystem. Wordpress itself is comfortable with the license. There is no fear of going to court.


So let's see.

1. Possibility of Automattic attacking FB with patents = 0%. (No issues here with React)

2. Possibility of FB attacking Automattic with patents (No issues here; Patent grant doesn't get revoked for countersuing).

3. Wordpress end users getting attacked by FaceBook (Again no issues here, grant doesn't get revoked for countersuing).

4. Wordpress end users planning to use software patents against FB - The guys who actually have a problem.

So basically, the FUD helped individuals/trolls/companies who want to wield software patents as a weapon; to the detriment of the wider community which sees software patents as evil.


> So basically, the FUD helped individuals/trolls/companies who want to wield software patents as a weapon; to the detriment of the wider community

This is just beyond ridiculous to characterize the FB patents addition as some sort of social good needed in the battle against patent litigation, like they are doing everyone a favour. The patents addition in the license is there to protect FB's interests. Words that specifically benefit the interests of a megacorp do not belong in an open source license meant to be used by everyone and anyone. It sets a terrible precedent that can be used to justify a whole range of different companies adding their own clauses, each of which that can be plausibly argued for. And all of that requires other companies to conduct legal counsel, altering which companies would be adopting WordPress - imposing a kind of decision making process and barrier that few if any in WP would or should desire. And it's not even worth it considering there are equally attractive alternatives out there.


Sadly there's not. I like Vue, but it doesn't have the maturity or ecosystem of React. Plus React Native is a great addition to open source that Vue has yet to fully counter. There's also GraphQL, which is published by this license as well. Lots of great, revolutionary tech impacted by this license.


WordPress is looking for a way to create modern interfaces in a more streamlined way and are looking for a tool to make that easy. Any number of libraries and frameworks are perfectly viable or can be made viable, most of which are operating from the same set of ideas while delivering the same benefits.

The size of React's ecosystem, bus factor and the availability of React Native all are nice but overstated in their importance relative to alternatives and obscure the many other considerations the WP community weighs up.

Further more, React's ecosystem size conveys marginal benefits given that use of React in core would have been constrained (it's not like core devs would be tapping into many additional React-based tools for core work).

React Native has not proven itself to be as stellar and promotes lock-in. If we come to rely on additional FB-engineered architecture to such a degree WP bets its future on the decisions made by a corporate giant with goals very dissimilar to WP and with decisions that may change down the line. This idea that FB has somehow has the closest thing to the holy grail and so we must all jump aboard the FB train is a very foolish and shortsighted one in my view. WP was wise not to adopt it.


Wordpress itself depends on its ecosystem of plugins to make it so powerful. React is no different. There are 40,000 packages on NPM for React. That's something no other JS library comes close to save for JQuery. That does matter. I think Vue may very well get there some day. It's just not there yet. Maybe the WordPress support would be enough to take it mainstream.


Yes, well said and observed.




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