Software license

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Software license_table_general_0

Software license_header_cell_0_0_0 Free and open (software must have source code provided)Software license_header_cell_0_0_1 Non-freeSoftware license_header_cell_0_0_4
Software license_header_cell_0_1_0 Public domainSoftware license_header_cell_0_1_1 Permissive licenseSoftware license_header_cell_0_1_2 Copyleft (protective license)Software license_header_cell_0_1_3 Noncommercial licenseSoftware license_header_cell_0_1_4 Proprietary licenseSoftware license_header_cell_0_1_5 Trade secretSoftware license_header_cell_0_1_6
DescriptionSoftware license_header_cell_0_2_0 Grants all rightsSoftware license_cell_0_2_1 Grants use rights, including right to relicense (allows proprietization, license compatibility)Software license_cell_0_2_2 Grants use rights, forbids proprietizationSoftware license_cell_0_2_3 Grants rights for noncommercial use only. May be combined with copyleft.Software license_cell_0_2_4 Traditional use of copyright; no rights need be grantedSoftware license_cell_0_2_5 No information made publicSoftware license_cell_0_2_6
SoftwareSoftware license_header_cell_0_3_0 PD, CC0Software license_cell_0_3_1 MIT, Apache, MPLSoftware license_cell_0_3_2 GPL, AGPLSoftware license_cell_0_3_3 JRL, AFPLSoftware license_cell_0_3_4 Proprietary software, no public licenseSoftware license_cell_0_3_5 Private, internal softwareSoftware license_cell_0_3_6
Other creative worksSoftware license_header_cell_0_4_0 PD, CC0Software license_cell_0_4_1 CC-BYSoftware license_cell_0_4_2 CC-BY-SASoftware license_cell_0_4_3 CC-BY-NCSoftware license_cell_0_4_4 Copyright, no public licenseSoftware license_cell_0_4_5 UnpublishedSoftware license_cell_0_4_6

A software license is a legal instrument (usually by way of contract law, with or without printed material) governing the use or redistribution of software. Software license_sentence_0

Under United States copyright law, all software is copyright protected, in both source code and object code forms, unless that software was developed by the United States Government, in which case it cannot be copyrighted. Software license_sentence_1

Authors of copyrighted software can donate their software to the public domain, in which case it is also not covered by copyright and, as a result, cannot be licensed. Software license_sentence_2

A typical software license grants the licensee, typically an end-user, permission to use one or more copies of software in ways where such a use would otherwise potentially constitute copyright infringement of the software owner's exclusive rights under copyright. Software license_sentence_3

Software licenses and copyright law Software license_section_0

Most distributed software can be categorized according to its license type (see table). Software license_sentence_4

Two common categories for software under copyright law, and therefore with licenses which grant the licensee specific rights, are proprietary software and free and open-source software (FOSS). Software license_sentence_5

The distinct conceptual difference between the two is the granting of rights to modify and re-use a software product obtained by a customer: FOSS software licenses both rights to the customer and therefore bundles the modifiable source code with the software ("open-source"), while proprietary software typically does not license these rights and therefore keeps the source code hidden ("closed source"). Software license_sentence_6

In addition to granting rights and imposing restrictions on the use of copyrighted software, software licenses typically contain provisions which allocate liability and responsibility between the parties entering into the license agreement. Software license_sentence_7

In enterprise and commercial software transactions, these terms often include limitations of liability, warranties and warranty disclaimers, and indemnity if the software infringes intellectual property rights of anyone. Software license_sentence_8

Unlicensed software outside the scope of copyright protection is either public domain software (PD) or software which is non-distributed, non-licensed and handled as internal business trade secret. Software license_sentence_9

Contrary to popular belief, distributed unlicensed software (not in the public domain) is fully copyright protected, and therefore legally unusable (as no usage rights at all are granted by a license) until it passes into public domain after the copyright term has expired. Software license_sentence_10

Examples of this are unauthorized software leaks or software projects which are placed on public software repositories like GitHub without a specified license. Software license_sentence_11

As voluntarily handing software into the public domain (before reaching the copyright term) is problematic in some jurisdictions (for instance the Law of Germany), there are also licenses granting PD-like rights, for instance the CC0 or WTFPL. Software license_sentence_12

Software license_table_general_1

Software licenses and rights granted in context of the copyright according to Mark Webbink. Expanded by freeware and sublicensing.Software license_table_caption_1
Rights grantedSoftware license_header_cell_1_0_0 Public domainSoftware license_header_cell_1_0_1 Permissive FOSS

license (e.g. BSD license)Software license_header_cell_1_0_2

Copyleft FOSS

license (e.g. GPL)Software license_header_cell_1_0_3


FreemiumSoftware license_header_cell_1_0_4

Proprietary licenseSoftware license_header_cell_1_0_5 Trade secretSoftware license_header_cell_1_0_6
Copyright retainedSoftware license_cell_1_1_0 NoSoftware license_cell_1_1_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_1_2 YesSoftware license_cell_1_1_3 YesSoftware license_cell_1_1_4 YesSoftware license_cell_1_1_5 Very strictSoftware license_cell_1_1_6
Right to performSoftware license_cell_1_2_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_2_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_2_2 YesSoftware license_cell_1_2_3 YesSoftware license_cell_1_2_4 YesSoftware license_cell_1_2_5 NoSoftware license_cell_1_2_6
Right to displaySoftware license_cell_1_3_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_3_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_3_2 YesSoftware license_cell_1_3_3 YesSoftware license_cell_1_3_4 YesSoftware license_cell_1_3_5 NoSoftware license_cell_1_3_6
Right to copySoftware license_cell_1_4_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_4_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_4_2 YesSoftware license_cell_1_4_3 OftenSoftware license_cell_1_4_4 NoSoftware license_cell_1_4_5 Lawsuits are filed by the owner against copyright infringement the mostSoftware license_cell_1_4_6
Right to modifySoftware license_cell_1_5_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_5_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_5_2 YesSoftware license_cell_1_5_3 NoSoftware license_cell_1_5_4 NoSoftware license_cell_1_5_5 NoSoftware license_cell_1_5_6
Right to distributeSoftware license_cell_1_6_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_6_1 Yes, under same licenseSoftware license_cell_1_6_2 Yes, under same licenseSoftware license_cell_1_6_3 OftenSoftware license_cell_1_6_4 NoSoftware license_cell_1_6_5 NoSoftware license_cell_1_6_6
Right to sublicenseSoftware license_cell_1_7_0 YesSoftware license_cell_1_7_1 YesSoftware license_cell_1_7_2 NoSoftware license_cell_1_7_3 NoSoftware license_cell_1_7_4 NoSoftware license_cell_1_7_5 NoSoftware license_cell_1_7_6
Example softwareSoftware license_cell_1_8_0 SQLite, ImageJSoftware license_cell_1_8_1 Apache web server, ToyBoxSoftware license_cell_1_8_2 Linux kernel, GIMP, OBSSoftware license_cell_1_8_3 Irfanview, Winamp, League of LegendsSoftware license_cell_1_8_4 Windows, the majority of commercial video games and their DRMs, Spotify, xSplit, TIDALSoftware license_cell_1_8_5 Server-side

Cloud computing programs and services,

forensic applications, and other line-of-business work.Software license_cell_1_8_6

Ownership vs. licensing Software license_section_1

Many proprietary or open source software houses sell the software copy with a license to use it. Software license_sentence_13

There isn't any transferring of ownership of the good to the user, which hasn't the warranty of a for life availability of the software, nor isn't entitled to sell, rent, give it to someone, copy or redistribute it on the Web. Software license_sentence_14

License terms and conditions may specify further legal clauses that users can't negotiate individually or by way of a consumer organization, and can uniquely accept or refuse, returning the product back to the vendor. Software license_sentence_15

This right can be effectively applied where the jurisdiction provides a mandatory time for the good decline right after the purchase (as in the European Union law), or a mandatory public advertisement of the license terms, so as to be made readable by users before their purchasing. Software license_sentence_16

In the United States, Section 117 of the Copyright Act gives the owner of a particular copy of software the explicit right to use the software with a computer, even if use of the software with a computer requires the making of incidental copies or adaptations (acts which could otherwise potentially constitute copyright infringement). Software license_sentence_17

Therefore, the owner of a copy of computer software is legally entitled to use that copy of software. Software license_sentence_18

Hence, if the end-user of software is the owner of the respective copy, then the end-user may legally use the software without a license from the software publisher. Software license_sentence_19

As many proprietary "licenses" only enumerate the rights that the user already has under 17 U.S.C. , and yet proclaim to take rights away from the user, these contracts may lack consideration. Software license_sentence_20

Proprietary software licenses often proclaim to give software publishers more control over the way their software is used by keeping ownership of each copy of software with the software publisher. Software license_sentence_21

By doing so, Section 117 does not apply to the end-user and the software publisher may then compel the end-user to accept all of the terms of the license agreement, many of which may be more restrictive than copyright law alone. Software license_sentence_22

The form of the relationship determines if it is a lease or a purchase, for example UMG v. Augusto or Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc. Software license_sentence_23

The ownership of digital goods, like software applications and video games, is challenged by "licensed, not sold" EULAs of digital distributors like Steam. Software license_sentence_24

In the European Union, the European Court of Justice held that a copyright holder cannot oppose the resale of a digitally sold software, in accordance with the rule of copyright exhaustion on first sale as ownership is transferred, and questions therefore the "licensed, not sold" EULA. Software license_sentence_25

The Swiss-based company UsedSoft innovated the resale of business software and fought for this right in court. Software license_sentence_26

In Europe, EU Directive 2009/24/EC expressly permits trading used computer programs. Software license_sentence_27

Proprietary software licenses Software license_section_2

Main article: Proprietary software Software license_sentence_28

Further information: End-user license agreement Software license_sentence_29

The hallmark of proprietary software licenses is that the software publisher grants the use of one or more copies of software under the end-user license agreement (EULA), but ownership of those copies remains with the software publisher (hence use of the term "proprietary"). Software license_sentence_30

This feature of proprietary software licenses means that certain rights regarding the software are reserved by the software publisher. Software license_sentence_31

Therefore, it is typical of EULAs to include terms which define the uses of the software, such as the number of installations allowed or the terms of distribution. Software license_sentence_32

The most significant effect of this form of licensing is that, if ownership of the software remains with the software publisher, then the end-user must accept the software license. Software license_sentence_33

In other words, without acceptance of the license, the end-user may not use the software at all. Software license_sentence_34

One example of such a proprietary software license is the license for Microsoft Windows. Software license_sentence_35

As is usually the case with proprietary software licenses, this license contains an extensive list of activities which are restricted, such as: reverse engineering, simultaneous use of the software by multiple users, and publication of benchmarks or performance tests. Software license_sentence_36

There are numerous types of licensing models, varying from simple perpetual licenses and floating licenses to more advanced models such as the metered license. Software license_sentence_37

The most common licensing models are per single user (named user, client, node) or per user in the appropriate volume discount level, while some manufacturers accumulate existing licenses. Software license_sentence_38

These open volume license programs are typically called open license program (OLP), transactional license program (TLP), volume license program (VLP) etc. and are contrary to the contractual license program (CLP), where the customer commits to purchase a certain number of licenses over a fixed period (mostly two years). Software license_sentence_39

Licensing per concurrent/floating user also occurs, where all users in a network have access to the program, but only a specific number at the same time. Software license_sentence_40

Another license model is licensing per dongle, which allows the owner of the dongle to use the program on any computer. Software license_sentence_41

Licensing per server, CPU or points, regardless the number of users, is common practice, as well as site or company licenses. Software license_sentence_42

Sometimes one can choose between perpetual (permanent) and annual license. Software license_sentence_43

For perpetual licenses, one year of maintenance is often required, but maintenance (subscription) renewals are discounted. Software license_sentence_44

For annual licenses, there is no renewal; a new license must be purchased after expiration. Software license_sentence_45

Licensing can be host/client (or guest), mailbox, IP address, domain etc., depending on how the program is used. Software license_sentence_46

Additional users are inter alia licensed per extension pack (e.g. up to 99 users), which includes the base pack (e.g. 5 users). Software license_sentence_47

Some programs are modular, so one will have to buy a base product before they can use other modules. Software license_sentence_48

Software licensing often also includes maintenance. Software license_sentence_49

This, usually with a term of one year, is either included or optional, but must often be bought with the software. Software license_sentence_50

The maintenance agreement (contract) typically contains a clause that allows the licensee to receive minor updates (V.1.1 => 1.2), and sometimes major updates (V.1.2 => 2.0). Software license_sentence_51

This option is usually called update insurance or upgrade assurance. Software license_sentence_52

For a major update, the customer has to buy an upgrade, if it is not included in the maintenance agreement. Software license_sentence_53

For a maintenance renewal, some manufacturers charge a reinstatement (reinstallment) fee retroactively per month, in the event that the current maintenance has expired. Software license_sentence_54

Maintenance sometimes includes technical support. Software license_sentence_55

When it does, the level of technical support, which are commonly named gold, silver and bronze, can vary depending on the communication method (i.e. e-mail versus telephone support), availability (e.g. 5x8, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day) and reaction time (e.g. three hours). Software license_sentence_56

Support is also licensed per incident as an incident pack (e.g. five support incidents per year). Software license_sentence_57

Many manufacturers offer special conditions for schools and government agencies (EDU/GOV license). Software license_sentence_58

Migration from another product (crossgrade), even from a different manufacturer (competitive upgrade) is offered. Software license_sentence_59

Free and open-source software licenses Software license_section_3

Main articles: Free software license and Open source software license Software license_sentence_60

There are several organizations in the FOSS domain who give out guidelines and definitions regarding software licenses. Software license_sentence_61

Free Software Foundation maintains non-exhaustive lists of software licenses following their The Free Software Definition and licenses which the FSF considers non-free for various reasons. Software license_sentence_62

The FSF distinguishes additionally between free software licenses that are compatible or incompatible with the FSF license of choice, the copyleft GNU General Public License. Software license_sentence_63

The Open Source Initiative defines a list of certified open-source licenses following their The Open Source Definition. Software license_sentence_64

Also the Debian project has a list of licenses which follow their Debian Free Software Guidelines. Software license_sentence_65

Free and open-source licenses are commonly classified into two categories: Those with the aim to have minimal requirements about how the software can be redistributed (permissive licenses), and the protective share-alike (copyleft Licenses). Software license_sentence_66

An example of a copyleft free software license is the often used GNU General Public License (GPL), also the first copyleft license. Software license_sentence_67

This license is aimed at giving and protecting all users unlimited freedom to use, study, and privately modify the software, and if the user adheres to the terms and conditions of the GPL, freedom to redistribute the software or any modifications to it. Software license_sentence_68

For instance, any modifications made and redistributed by the end-user must include the source code for these, and the license of any derivative work must not put any additional restrictions beyond what the GPL allows. Software license_sentence_69

Examples of permissive free software licenses are the BSD license and the MIT license, which give unlimited permission to use, study, and privately modify the software, and includes only minimal requirements on redistribution. Software license_sentence_70

This gives a user the permission to take the code and use it as part of closed-source software or software released under a proprietary software license. Software license_sentence_71

It was under debate some time if public domain software and public domain-like licenses can be considered as a kind of FOSS license. Software license_sentence_72

Around 2004 lawyer Lawrence Rosen argued in the essay "Why the public domain isn't a license" software could not truly be waived into public domain and can't therefore be interpreted as very permissive FOSS license, a position which faced opposition by Daniel J. Bernstein and others. Software license_sentence_73

In 2012 the dispute was finally resolved when Rosen accepted the CC0 as an open source license, while admitting that contrary to his previous claims, copyright can be waived away, backed by Ninth circuit decisions. Software license_sentence_74

See also Software license_section_4

Software license_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: license.