[License-discuss] Views on React licensing?

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Mon Dec 12 10:44:50 UTC 2016

On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 11:00 PM, Tzeng, Nigel H. <Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu> wrote:
> On 12/6/16, 3:33 PM, "henrik.ingo at gmail.com on behalf of Henrik Ingo"
> <henrik.ingo at gmail.com on behalf of henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi> wrote:
>>The question isn't about patents or copyrights. The point is that taking
>>an OSI approved license and making additions to it by adding a separate
>>file with additional terms and conditions, results in a combination which
>>as a whole is not OSI approved open source license. It is no different
>>from taking the BSD license and making additions to it within the same
> In what way is the BSD copyright license impacted by an external patent
> grant license?

Many people, including significant producers of BSD software, believe
that the BSD license is also a patent license.

In this context it is not acceptable to use an open source license
that grants a patent license, and then add a separate "grant" which in
fact limits and is narrower than the BSD license. In more general
terms, you cannot take an OSI approved license, add your own
limitations, and still claim being open source. (You may or may not
be, but the end result is certainly not OSI approved.)

Note that I'm stating a general principle here, while at the same time
I'm of the opinion that the patent retaliation clause in the React
patent grant is in my opinion a good thing.

> How is this different than combining a BSD copyright license and an
> external trademark license agreement?

If an external trademark license agreement would place requirements on
the users of open source software that are in conflict with OSD, such
a combination would also be unacceptable. Arguably, the attempts at
various badgeware licenses are a good precedent on this topic.

On the other side, organizations like Red Hat and Mozilla protect the
integrity of their own trademarks - and arguably even their users - by
asserting that some trademarks can only be present in software
releases actually made by themselves. In practice this does not limit
the openness / freedom of the software. As evidenced by the existence
of CentOS and Iceweasel, it is a simple task to just change that
trademarked name to your own when forking the code.

Speaking of BSD... Clause #3 in the BSD license is an early historical
principle of asserting the same principle: People should release
software in their own name.

> IMHO it has everything to do with whether patents are in or out of scope
> for OSI license approval for copyright licenses.

Patents are of course in scope for OSI license approval process, are
usually considered as part of every review of new licenses, and most
of the commonly used open source licenses have clear and explicit
clauses about patents.

> That¹s fine as long as there are open source licenses with far more narrow
> grants or no grants whatsoever like CC0.

Good to remember that CC0 is not an OSI approved open source license,
precisely because it did not grant a patent license.


henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
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