Lejdborg Consulting

Open Source – is it really free to use?

Lately there’s been much talk about the ”BSD+Patents” software license invented by Facebook. The license has been rolled out into some of Facebook’s open source projects, of which many are widely used – such as React for web development, and React Native for mobile app development.

What’s interesting about this license is that it breaks open source conventions – with a patent clause. It’s granting a perpetual license to use the software, as long as you don’t sue the copyright holder for patent infringement. A far-fetched interpretation that’s been made is: ”as long as you use our open source code, we may freely infringe on your patents”.

Even though it’s a bit rough on the people outside of Facebook who’s contributed to the projects’ success, Facebook are well within their rights to use whatever license they want. It’s their IP after all.

With that said… Use this as a reminder to check what licenses your software depends on – and what the dependencies depend on. There are many types of standard licenses, and they place varying demands on you. Some licenses allow you to use the code freely as long as you don’t hold the creator responsible for anything (e.g. MIT) – and some licenses are only free to use as long as you release your source code freely too (e.g. GPL v3).

Are you complying with your licenses?

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Hi, I'm Christoffer Lejdborg! I believe software has tremendous potential to transform your business in amazing ways, but people are too focused on the technology instead of the business case.

I've worked with companies such as BDO, Grant Thornton, Nobina Technology, Run My Security and Whenever.


christoffer@lejdborg.se
+46 70-218 17 24