That change in license removes a controversial term in the BSD + Patents license that Facebook had been using for React. The BSD + Patent license stipulates that anyone using software released under it loses the license if they sue Facebook for patent infringement.
Why Apache and others decried React’s use of the BSD + Patent license
That term was intended to reduce the chances of “meritless” litigation against users of React-containing software written under the license, Facebook said. But Apache added the BSD + Patent license to a list of licenses that were contrary to its policies, effectively banning the use of React in Apache projects. Apache said the BSD + Patent license made Apache software less of a “universal donor” to downstream projects, which is unacceptable.
Automatic, which produces the WordPress web content management system, also objected to Facebook’s BSD + Patent license, calling the patents clause confusing and threatening.
Node.js technology vendor NodeSource also was concerned about the BSD + Patents license. “The issue is web developers are not IP attorneys and the patent clause associated with the React license is not compatible with copyleft licenses,” said NodeSource CEO Joe McCann.
Facebook’s decision to change the license comes after “several weeks of disappointment and uncertainty for our community,” said Adam Wolff, a Facebook engineering director “Although Facebook still believe its BSD + Patents license provides some benefits to users of its projects, we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.”
How developers can get out of React’s BSD + Patents license
Developers do need to update any existing React components to version 16 or the forthcoming point release of React 15 to have the MIT license apply. Otherwise, the BSD + Patents license still applies.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.