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Facebook's React Patents License and OSI

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  • Why Not to Overreact to Facebook's React Patents License

    The reaction to this news is surprising, given the parallel patent licensing model is nothing new. Facebook released its “BSD+Patents” grant in 2013 (with a revision in 2015). But a similar model was used with some fanfare by Google with its WebM codec in 2010. This licensing model involves two parallel and simultaneous grants of rights: a BSD license to the copyright in the software, and a separate grant to practice patents that read on the software. Putting the two together means there are two independent and parallel grants of rights. In this respect, it is quite similar to the Apache 2.0 license which, like BSD, is a permissive license, and which also contains a defensive termination provision that exists alongside the copyright license grant.

    Much of the reaction to Apache Foundation’s announcement has just created confusion, such as this article misleadingly calling it “booby-trapped.” In fact, many open source licenses have defensive termination provisions — which are mostly considered a reasonable mechanism to discourage patent lawsuits, rather than a booby trap. They are also the rule rather than the exception; all major open source licenses with patent grants also have defensive termination provisions — each with slightly different terms. The difference between the Facebook grant, which Apache has rejected, and the Apache 2.0 license, which Apache requires for its projects, is more subtle than the controversy suggests.

    [...]

    Defensive termination provisions of the scope in the Facebook grant are very common in patent licensing, outside of the open source landscape. Most patent licenses terminate if the licensee bring patent claims against the licensor. The reason is that a licensor does not want to be unilaterally “disarmed” in a patent battle. Most patents are only used defensively — asserted when a competitor sues the patent owner. A sues B and then B sues A, resulting in mutually assured destruction. If B has released its software under an open source license without a broad defensive termination provision, B is potentially without recourse, and has paid a high price for its open source code release. A gets to simultaneously free ride on B’s software development and sue B for patent infringement.

    Finally, the Facebook grant itself is not new. The grant was released in 2013, and ReactJS’ popularity has been growing since then. As with many open source licenses, the industry’s willingness to absorb a new license depends on the tastiness of the code released under it. In the case of ReactJS, the code was great, and the patent license terms were new, but reasonable.

  • The Faces of Open Source: Till Jaeger

    Dr. Till Jaeger features in the fifth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law." The series was shot during breaks at the FSFE Legal Network 'Legal and Licensing Workshop' in Barcelona during April 2017, and is provided here to promote greater understanding of how the law and open source projects and communities are interacting and evolving.

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Today in Techrights

today's leftover

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    Last month on Phoronix I featured the DXVK project that's working to implement Direct3D 11 over Vulkan (not to be confused with VK9 as the separate effort to get D3D9 over Vulkan). This project is making a surprising amount of progress in its early stages.
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  • Debsources now in sources.debian.org
    Debsources is a web application for publishing, browsing and searching an unpacked Debian source mirror on the Web. With Debsources, all the source code of every Debian release is available in https://sources.debian.org, both via an HTML user interface and a JSON API. This service was first offered in 2013 with the sources.debian.net instance, which was kindly hosted by IRILL, and is now becoming official under sources.debian.org, hosted on the Debian infrastructure.
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    The organizers of the Ubucon Europe conference for Ubuntu Linux users, contributors and developers announced the official dates next year's Ubucon Europe 2018 event. Don't pack your bags just yet for the next Ubuntu conference, but at least you should mark your calendars for April 27, 28, and 29 of 2018, when the Ubucon Europe 2018 conference will take place. Where? The event will be held in Spain this time, in the city of Xixón, at the municipal facilities of Centro de Cultura Antiguo Instituto. "Ubucon Europe 2018 will be held this year in Xixón, Spain on 27, 28 and 29 April 2018 in the Spanish city of Xixón at the municipal facilities of the Antiguo Instituto. For further information please write to ubuconeurope2018 AT gmail.com," wrote the organizers in a tweet earlier this morning.
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Ataribox and Chromebooks

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    Atari will start taking preorders for its Ataribox game console starting December 14. The New York company will also start its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo at that time. In an email blast, Atari said, “We at Atari are thrilled to introduce you to our first new gaming hardware in over 20 years. Welcome to Ataribox. Preorders will officially open on December 14, 2017. Our community is the absolute backbone of Atari, and we’d like to offer our earliest supporters a chance to grab Ataribox at an exclusive discount. Keep an eye on that inbox for your chance to order yours.”
  • Chromebooks and Office 365 together will challenge Windows laptops
    It's no secret that I'm not a Windows fan. I'm beginning to wonder if Microsoft isn't either. Hear me out. On Nov. 27, Chromebook users discovered that Office 365 would run on some of their laptops. To be exact, we now know you can download and run Office 365 on Samsung Chromebook Pro, Pixelbook, Acer Chromebook 15, and the Acer C771.