Making Sense of Software Licensing The stuff in small print really does matter Ariel Gilbert-Knight - March 09, Software licensing is a complicated topic, but knowing a little about software licensing can help you make sense of all that fine print. Editor's Note: This article was adapted from an article authored by Chris Peters in March Take the complexity of technology and stir in the jargon of the legal system and what do you get?
Software licenses! Software licensing is a complicated topic, but knowing a little about software licensing can help you make sense of all that fine print. This article is a general introduction to software licensing.
What Is a Software License? A software license is an agreement between you and the owner of a software program that allows you to do certain things that would otherwise be an infringement of copyright law. The software license usually answers questions such as Where and how and how often can you install the program?
Can you copy, modify, or redistribute it? Can you look at the underlying source code? The price of the software and the licensing fees, if any, is sometimes discussed in the license agreement, but usually it's described elsewhere. Key Points About Software Licensing We'll cover these terms in greater detail below, but these are some basic things you should know about software licenses.
Know what "free" means. In the context of software licensing, free doesn't refer to price. It means free in the sense of "free speech" and refers to the rights and restrictions imposed on using software.
Free or open-source software has fewer restrictions. Glossing over a lot of nuances, if a program is released under a free software license or an open-source license, you generally don't have to ask anyone's permission to use it. You can also copy and redistribute the software to your heart's content. Proprietary software has more restrictions. If the software is proprietary or closed-source, there will usually be significant restrictions in the license that limit the ways you can use the software.
It's always a good idea to review these agreements, but it's especially important to do so for one-off or small software purchases from less well-known companies. The EULA spells out what you can and can't do with software.
It covers everything from how many copies you can install to what the software company can do with your data and what additional software the company can install on your computer.
Pay attention to how long the license lasts. A perpetual license doesn't expire. Once you purchase it, you have rights to use the software for as long as you like. A term license expires after a specified period of time often one year and must be periodically renewed. Look into volume licenses or site licenses whenever possible. These arrangements offer lower prices and often make administration tasks easier.
You may get secondary or home use rights. You may be able to install copies of the software on more than one computer, with certain restrictions. For example, you may be able to install a copy of the software on a home or portable computer, as long as it is not used at the same time as the software is used on your primary computer.
The specific rights, if any, will be spelled out in the EULA. Keep your documentation. You should document the product name and version number. Keep all installation disks, original manuals, and other documentation. Where applicable, also document the product serial number or SKU , proof of purchase, and license key.
Installing and Activating Your Software The process for installing software varies from product to product. You'll need to read the specific instructions you receive in order to properly install and for some products activate your software. A few terms it will be helpful to know are License Key also known as a software key or product key — This is usually a long string of letters and numbers that you enter at some point in the software installation process.
The key helps ensure that the user is in compliance with software vendors' or creators' copyright restrictions and is authorized to use their software. Not all software requires a license key. Activation — This is the process of entering your license key to turn on the full set of features available in a software package. For example, if you download a free trial version of software, you may need to purchase and enter a license key to start using the full paid version.
Not all software requires activation. Activation may be done offline or, more frequently, online. Deactivation or Transfer — If you want to stop using the software on one computer and start using it on a different computer, you may need to deactivate the license on the old computer before you can transfer it to a new computer.
Learn About Volume and Site Licensing Most major vendors offer some type of bulk purchasing and volume licensing option for software. The terms vary, but if you order enough software to qualify, volume licensing can be cheaper and more convenient for your organization. Nonprofits sometimes qualify for volume licensing with very small initial purchases. Also, volume licensing often provides you with a central place to manage all your licenses for a particular product or group of products.
Some volume licensing options can also help make installation easier with a single, organization-wide activation code for a particular product. Learn more about volume licensing options from Microsoft: Other Companies: Site Licensing may be another option.
A site license allows an organization to make multiple copies of a software package to use on multiple computers. What You Can and Can't Do with Software As mentioned earlier, if the software is proprietary or closed-source, the license agreement will usually limit the ways you can use the software, copy it, alter it, and redistribute it. Also, you usually won't have access to the underlying source code.
In everyday conversation, there's not much difference between "free software" and "free and open-source software" FOSS. However, the official definitions and underlying philosophies do differ. See how the official definition of free software differs from the official definition of open-source software.
For a short description of the difference, read Live and Let License. Categories of Free and Non-Free Software covers topics like copyleft and public domain software. Other commonly used terms include Freeware — Free proprietary software, usually small downloadable utilities. You don't have the right to view the source code, and you may not have the right to copy and redistribute the software.
Shareware also known as trialware or demoware — Trial software that you can use free of charge for a limited time usually 30 or 60 days.
After that, you're expected to pay to continue using it. Not for Resale NFR — Versions of software that are usually distributed for testing, preview, or donation purposes. They may include different features than the regular retail product. NFR versions usually don't include the same technical support options as the retail product. Related Content.
Jun 13, - Eg in EU resale of used software is always legal and cannot be taken away by the license. Were you acting in good faith buying those keys? Please be aware that the Software may not be available and/or allowed in your If the Software is shared through a network or the Software is used to filter traffic After the fixed term you must either buy the Software license from F‑Secure or. When you buy software, you are actually acquiring a license to use it, not own it. how and where the software may be legally used by members of the relevant.
Ownership vs. 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. 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. In the United States, Section 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. Therefore, the owner of a copy of computer software is legally entitled to use that copy of software. 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.