19 Comments

  1. Jon Brown

    It continues to baffle me that Matt, one of the foremost champions of GPL, doesn’t have a problem with this. It’s absolutely not a “free” license if it restricts your freedom to sue Facebook.

    While I’d love to see multiple downstream consumers band together and get FB to move back to ALv2 on this, doing so is “wouldn’t be too optimistic about this” in their own words.

    Switch to Vue.js before it’s too late. Gutenberg is a nice POC, but there are lingering UX issues, rebooting wouldn’t be the end of the word, yet…

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    • Peter Knight

      It baffles me too, it’s changed the way I look at WordPress and Matt’s stewardship. It feels like the push to grow toward ever larger market share (is it even wise to have such an explicit aim?) and a general anxiety around keeping up with the Joneses has lead to choices that undermine what makes the WordPress special in an online world dominated by titans that are ruled by growth at any cost (see FB, Google etc and the subtle and not so subtle sacrifices they were willing to make to users’ interests and projects in the name of growth).

      It seems to me that lawyers said the FB license was technically kosher enough and that is all what was needed, despite the license itself and the company behind it generating a smell that can be detected all the same. The fact that Matt ignored the smell and was content with a green light delivered by lawyers and developers (who were just wanting to build with cool tech) alarms me.

      I’ve always been huge supportive of Matt for doing things that other people were critical of, he was militant about GPL enforcement and I valued that. We had a leader who was going to go to bat for the stuff that most people underappreciated, but was hugely important. He became a villain to some in his exchanges over the years, but I always felt he was protecting the best interests of WordPress. I’m not sure he does that anymore and it saddens me.

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      • JeffC

        Agree. Given his militancy re the GPL, this is crazy…

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      • Otto

        It’s not that crazy. Software patents suck and should not be allowed to exist at all.

        Also, remember that early drafts of the GPLv3 wanted to straight up ban software patents. See https://www.gnu.org/licenses/rms-why-gplv3.en.html

        If you’re really pro-free software, you’re probably anti software patent.

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        • Carl Hancock

          It’s not about the patents. It’s about the fact that there are caveats to it’s OS license that put limitations on your freedom.

          It appears people are shrugging their shoulders to this because they either dislike patents, don’t know much about patents, don’t own patents, don’t have interest in patents, don’t foresee themselves being in a situation where this caveat would come into play… or a combination thereof.

          But that is not a reason to brush aside this issue.

          The fact that the Apache Foundation is raising this issue should raise your eyebrows no matter how much you hate software patents.

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  2. Alec

    Well said, Jon. That Facebook license is really not open source. Code released under that license has no place in core.

    React.js in Calypso worries me less. Calypso is an Automattic project and is not core. As a private company, Automattic is free to use software under whatever license suits them. WordPress core is a different matter.

    Sometimes principles bear a price.

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    • JeffC

      And that’s the point, behind WordPress there was always a principle, the GPL stands for a principle, and this goes completely against that principle.

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      • Stu

        JeffC

        What principle that the GPL stands for does this go against?

        Carl:
        The GPL is not in support of just any old freedom whatsoever, just the freedom to have access, and control over, software.

        The freedom to sue people over software patents most emphatically is *NOT* something this is part of the principles the GPL standards for. The GPL stands against patents, and their use, in any form.

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      • JeffC

        @Stu

        The principal of being open source.

        Facebook’s BSD+Patent License is not open source.

        That combination isn’t certified by the OSI. To be OSS, the software has to be licensed under an OSI-approved license, which it isn’t.

        https://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical

        So for WordPress to be including non-open source licensed software in core seems to be going against the grain, wouldn’t you agree? Would that mean that WordPress is no longer open source?

        Perhaps Facebook should submit their license for approval, then this would all go away?

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  3. chuck

    And so it begins.

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  4. Eugene Kopich

    So they’ve already changed the license 2 times, not a big deal, they’ll just need to do that one more time))

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  5. Matt

    If FaceBook decides not to re-license then that hopefully makes VueJS appear that much more appealing to use in the free WordPress.org project.

    I personally don’t care if the WordPress.com version continues to use React as long as WordPress.org uses VueJS instead or some other compatibly licensed framework.

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    • JeffC

      WordPress.com and Automattic are free to use whatever they want. But given the whole back and forth about the GPL and the ethics and principle behind it, to have the FB BSD+Patents foisted upon WordPress.org and it’s users, frankly stinks.

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  6. Albert E.

    Scenario: React is added to WordPress core and thus core bears its license in some form.

    How would this effect someone who tries to make a social media site using WordPress? It would virtually guarantee that no one using WordPress could *ever* compete with Facebook.

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    • chuck

      That wouldn’t be the issue. The issue would be that if you created something novel then FB took your idea you would not be able to sue them (or if you did, you’d lose your React license thus neutering your project). It’s essentially a one-sided intellectual property indemnification, to protect FB. Large companies think they are special and they have a roomful of attorneys to prove it.

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    • mark k.

      You do not understand the license. It is not about your wordpress blog it is about the entire organization. Imagine google used react in their car company, and sued FB on some search related patent by the “search” company. In that case google will immediately have to yank all the react components from their cars.

      just the headache associated with keeping track of which component might be affected in such case is a good enough reason to avoid react in the first place, and if react will stay in core I will expect all major companies to stop using wordpress.

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      • Tomas M.

        That’s very important point. I don’t know if Matt thought about this. It is one thing that this situation is acceptable to Automattic, but did anyone thought about other companies that are using WP and what would be their reaction?

        This would go directly against the 50% world domination ambitions :D

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    • Christopher A

      The other thing to consider is Facebook has a history of moving into new industries through acquisitions. You may think your company or product has no direct correlation with Facebook products but that can change overnight.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Facebook

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    • Jon Brown

      This is an interesting point… but it triggers the question “who would have to sue Facebook for patent infringement to trigger removing React from WordPress? Me? You? .org?

      It all untested law… but, no, I think one would assume it just means that I wouldn’t be able to continue using WordPress (with React baked in) if I chose to sue FaceBook for patent infringement.

      Yeah, I don’t like software patents, but I like my legal rights being given away even less.

      As I’ve said elsewhere. It’s _not me_ it’s my clients.

      I would no longer be able to use WordPress for clients sites without also advising them that should they someday want to sue FB for patent infringement they’ll loose use of WordPress. For some of them, as edge case as that sounds, that will be a deal breaker.

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