Automattic and React Break Up: Remains Only Child


Matt Mullenweg wrote a blog post explaining Automattic’s decision to halt development on their Gutenberg project that was meant to integrate React into WordPress. The main issue at hand is Facebook’s patent clause that is included with React and has been added to the Apache Software Foundation’s (ASF) list of disallowed licenses. From the ASF:

The Facebook BSD+Patents license includes a specification of a PATENTS file that passes along risk to downstream consumers of our software imbalanced in favor of the licensor, not the licensee, thereby violating our Apache legal policy of being a universal donor. The terms of Facebook BSD+Patents license are not a subset of those found in the ALv2, and they cannot be sublicensed as ALv2.

This is a shame for multiple reasons and I’m not completely faulting Facebook but this does ruin the spirit of open source when the decision to avoid a certain open source library isn’t driven by the quality/support of a library and is driven by legalese and potential lawsuits in the future. Ultimately, this doesn’t prevent me from continuing to use React (I’ll be amazed if anything I build gets me sued/allows me to sue someone) but I’m sure some organizations will now have to weigh the risks. I feel like everyone has a similar goal, so I’m hopeful that after some time, lots of meetings with lawyers, everyone will agree to something that matches the spirit of open source.