Software license

[[File:Software_Categories_expanded.svg|thumb|upright=1.2|Diagram of software under various licenses according to the : on the left side "free software", on the right side "[[proprietary both sides, and therefore mostly orthogonal, "free download" (Freeware).]] A software license is a legal instrument governing the use or redistribution of software.

Since the 1970s, software copyright has been recognized in the United States. Despite the copyright being recognized, most companies prefer to sell licenses rather than copies of the software because it enables them to enforce stricter terms on redistribution. Very few read any part of the license, initially

and now most commonly encountered as clickwrap or [[]]. The of this kind of license is a matter of controversy and is limited in some jurisdictions. Service-level agreements are another type of software license where the vendor agrees to provide a level of service to the purchaser, often backed by financial penalties.

Copyleft is a type of free license that mandates derivative works to be licensed. The other types of free license lack this requirement: for permissive licenses, attribution is typically the only requirement, and public-domain-equivalent licenses have no restrictions. The proliferation of open-source licenses has compounded license compatibility issues, but all share some features: allowing redistribution and derivative works under the same license, unrestricted access to the source code, anmination between different usesallowing commercial use.

Free and open Non-free
Public domain[1] and equivalent licenses Permissive license[2][3] Copyleft[2][3] Noncommercial license[4] Proprietary license[5] Trade secret[6]
Description Waives copyright protection Grants use rights, including right to relicense (allows proprietization, license compatibility) Grants use rights, forbids proprietization Grants rights for noncommercial use only. Traditional use of copyright; no rights need be granted information made public
Notable software licenses PD, CC0[7] MIT, Apache, MPL, BSD GPL, AGPL JRL[8] Proprietary software
  1. ^ O'Regan 2022, p. 403.
  2. ^ a b "Licenses". Open Source Initiative. 16 September 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  3. ^ a b Sen, Subramaniam & Nelson 2008, p. 212.
  4. ^ Morin et al. 2012, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Licensing.
  5. ^ O'Regan 2022, p. 394.
  6. ^ O'Regan 2022, p. 396.
  7. ^ Fagundes & Perzanowski 2020, p. 524.
  8. ^ Davila 2015, p. 6.

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