[License-discuss] Views on React licensing?

Richard Fontana fontana at opensource.org
Fri Dec 2 04:26:03 UTC 2016

The OSI has received several inquiries concerning its opinion on the
licensing of React [1], which is essentially the 3-clause BSD license
along with, in a separate file, an 'Additional Grant of Patent Rights'

The Additional Grant of Patent Rights is a patent license grant that
includes certain termination criteria. These termination criteria are
not entirely unprecedented when you look at the history of patent
license provisions in OSI-approved licenses, but they are certainly
broader than the termination criteria [or the equivalent] in several
familiar modern licenses (the Apache License 2.0, EPL, MPL 2.0, and

The 'Additional Grant' has attracted a fair amount of criticism (as
did an earlier version which apparently resulted in some revisions by
Facebook). There was a recent blog post by Robert Pierce of El Camino
Legal [3] (which among other things argues that the React patent
license is not open source). Luis Villa wrote an interesting response

What do members of the license-discuss community think about the
licensing of React? I see a few issues here:

- does the breadth of the React patent termination criteria raise
  OSD-conformance issues or otherwise indicate that React should not
  be considered open source?

- is it good practice, and does it affect the open source status of
  software, to supplement OSI-approved licenses with separate patent
  license grants or nonasserts? (This has been done by some other
  companies without significant controversy.)

- if the React patent license should be seen as not legitimate from an
  OSI/OSD perspective, what about the substantial number of
  past-approved (if now mostly obsolete) licenses that incorporated
  patent license grants with comparably broad termination criteria?

- should Facebook be encouraged to seek OSI approval for the React
  license including the patent license grant?


[1] https://facebook.github.io/react/

[2] https://github.com/facebook/react/blob/master/PATENTS

[3] http://www.elcaminolegal.com/single-post/2016/10/04/Facebook-Reactjs-License

[4] http://lu.is/blog/2016/10/31/reacts-license-necessary-and-open/

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