An Introduction to Software License – (Part-I)

What is Software License?

Software License is a legal instrument that governs how the software can be used and distributed. Usually, software is Copyright protected unless it’s available in the Public Domain (Artistic works that, are not covered under the Intellectual Property Law. There is no individual artist owns the work. It is owned by the public).

The software license doesn’t mean you have to pay for software. The Even free software has software License. Commercial Software is produced to sell.

Main categories of Software License

There are two main categories of software License. They are,

  1. Proprietary Software
  2. Open source Software


  1. Proprietary software

Proprietary Software is licensed by the Copyright holder, under very particular conditions. You can use but, not allowed to modify or distribute it for others. There, you cannot see the actual source code written by the programmers. It calls ‘Close Source Software’. The Much proprietary software is commercial. Then, users have to pay for them. They may invest more capital in software, Therefore, they will commercialize the software.

  1. Open Source Software.

Open Source Software can define as ‘Software which the source code is released’. Anyone can use, modify and distribute. Can freely use. Acquire name for it, is ‘FOSS’ (Free Open Source Software). It develops by collaborating manner. Users can give their idea to develop the Software. 


It is opposite of Copyright. The Copyright owner cannot revoke the Copyleft. Copyleft allow people to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works. Simply, all modified and extended versions also have to be free.

As anyone can download, and distribute, it can be misused. Hence, License for open-source software especially states that users are not allowed to put restrictions on its use or distribution.  So by agreeing to the license, users can’t start selling the software later.

The most widely used example of the Copyleft license is the GNU Public License or GPL.

Why people are paying for Commercial Software?

Though the number of software free, people are paying for commercial software. The main reason for that is, Commercial software is more polished and easier to use. For an example, Linux is difficult to use for a new comer.

Open Source Software developed by the community. So, it consists of lack and critical support services.

 For an example: There’s a company makes their database on Open Source Software. If one day, it’s getting crackups. In such a situation company have to get some help from a specialist on the field. But, if the company purchase commercialized software then company do not need to be worry as it consists of great customer service.

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