Talk:Software license

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Issues with FOSS section[edit]

'ownership of a copy of software' is meaningless. One either owns the copyright to the software, or they are a licencee. 'acceptance of the licence is essentially optional' is false. The acceptance of the licence is the condition on which one is allowed to copy the software, otherwise it falls back to 'all rights reserved' therefore the end-user has no rights in relation to the software. Re describing the effects of a licence... the end user capable of reading the licence text for themselves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.180.1.224 (talk) 01:34, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

This isn't necessarily so, at least not in the United States. It's possible to buy copies of software, the same way you can buy copies of a book, without holding copyright to the creative work in question. There's some dispute about whether consumers own copies of commercial programs with a "licensed not sold" EULA (see Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., 555 F.Supp.2d 1164 (W.D.Wash. 2008)), but I'm unaware of any legal reason to believe that you *can't* buy and sell copies of programs, absent such an EULA. Asrabkin (talk) 08:53, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Jacobsen v. Katzer[edit]

I recently removed misleading information about the ramifications of the fairly recent Jacobsen v. Katzer decision regarding the enforceability of open source software licenses. These edits were made by an anonymous author. Before re-inserting that information, please be sure that you understand the difference between mere use of software versus copying, distributing, and making derivative works of software. Open source licenses do not restrict who may use software. Just as anyone may read a copyrighted book, anyone may use copyrighted open source software. If you accept the terms of an open source license, then, in addition to the right to use the software, you are granted the additional rights to copy, distribute, and make derivative works of the software pursuant to the terms of the license. If you reject the terms of the license, you may still use the software. This follow from the fact that "use" is not one of the exclusive rights retained by copyright holders. But by rejecting an open source license, you may not copy, distribute, or make derivative works of the software in question. In Jacobsen v. Katzer, the defendant admitted to copying, distributing, and making derivative works of the open source software, which is why the court found that copyright infringement had occurred. If the defendant had merely used the software for his own personal purposes, then no copyright infringement would have occurred. Moulding (talk) 01:47, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Software Licensing should not be merged with Software License[edit]

The act of licensing software is a separate topic from the sofware license itself.

Although they are obviously interrelated, they still remain two separate things.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Jigordon (talkcontribs)

I disagree. One article can manage that issue as this separation only serves to confuse the reader. Separate article Site license should be merged also. — Moondyne 09:00, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I support the merge, but the article should be titled Software licensing, not Software license. I'll change the tags to undirected merges. ~ Keiji (iNVERTED) (Talk | Contribs) 20:05, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

only applies in the u.s.[edit]

eulas are not considered valid contracts in most parts of the world outside the u.s.. at least in europe the eula can not restrict the rights you already acquired as you bought the product. I arrived at this article from a search on "site license". It contained precisely what I needed and was ALL I needed. If merging it would make it any more difficult to find this precise info by search, I'd suggest against it.

is software tangible for tax purposes?[edit]

sure it is — Preceding unsigned comment added by 217.110.66.72 (talk) 13:27, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

LicensingHandbook reference[edit]

I would rather have the discussion regarding the link to the external blog happen here instead of via an editing war. While it is true that the blog IS a promotional tool for the Software Licensing Handbook, the blog also covers software licensing issues on a weekly basis apart from the book.

To say that the blog is ONLY an advertisement for the book is misleading and incorrect. With so few real resources available to people looking to learn about how to work through the licensing process, I would also think that any additional information would be helpful.

Not to mention the fact that there are blatantly self-promotional links (and articles) all throughout Wikipedia... so a link to an outside blog that covers the topics within Wikipedia shouldn't be problematic. Jigordon 02:40, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

The external link to licensinghandbook.com fails to meet the guidelines for external links as set forth in WP:ELNO. In particular, it without question fails criteria 4, 5, and 11, and arguably fails criteria 1 and 2 as well. Furthermore, the link strongly appears to be in violation of WP:COI as well. Given the strong evidence to suggest that the link is inappropriate, I am removing it. If you disagree with this decision, please reply here stating the reasons why it should be exempted from the above policies (or why it meets the appropriate criteria) before adding it back. Thanks. Moulding (talk) 21:00, 8 May 2008 (UTC)


Thank you for having the conversation here.

WP:ELNO begins by stating "Except for a link to a page that is the subject of the article...". As such, none of the criteria would be used to judge the link, as the stated topic of the site is software licensing, which is the subject of the article.

With respects to WP:COI, it could be argued that creating a link to my own site would represent a conflict. However, the COI actually discusses Citing Oneself specifically: "Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest. Using material you yourself have written or published is allowed within reason, but only if it is notable and conforms to the content policies."

A single link to the site which discusses this topic (and is an area in which I have both professional and academic experience) is, by that definition, not a conflict of interest. Especially since we're talking about a single link at the bottom of the page in the section entitled "External Links."

Not that two wrongs make a right... but the Dan Bricklin link would also fail if held to your standards.

I will not add it back without input from "the community" so long as the community is comprised of people with more than a few days as a contributor. Jigordon 22:33, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi Jeff. Neither you, your blog, or your "companion" handbook are the subject of this article. Thus it is incorrect to cite the quote above about "a page that is the subject of the article" as justification for the link. It happens that your blog covers, among other things, the same topic that this Wikipedia article covers. However, despite any academic value your blog may possess, it's purpose for existence appears to be to promote your products or services. Thus, it is simply a commercial site whose owner is attempting to append to a Wiki article using a common theme. Nevertheless, despite others' objections here, you've done well for yourself by creating this discussion and thereby entering a permanent record here for your work. Jazzdanse (talk) 03:52, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Jazzdanse's interpretation of the guideline "Except for a link to a page that is the subject of the article or an official page of the article subject" is correct. This article is not about licensinghandbook.com. Therefore the link is not to a page which is the subject of the article. The article is also not about Jeffrey Gordon, so the link is not to an official page of the article subject, either. So the criteria set forth in WP:ELNO do apply.
As for WP:COI, "Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest" means that you are not prohibited from editing the Software License article simply because you are expert in that area. After all, such a rule would be silly and would be self-defeating for Wikipedia. However, this does not give an editor license to add any material he or she wishes to add simply because the editor is an expert on the topic at hand, nor does it erase all instances of conflict of interest. The COI policy unequivocally states, "Adding material that appears to promote the interests or visibility of an article's author, its author's family members, employer, associates, or their business or personal interests, places the author in a conflict of interest." (emphasis added).
Note that none of this is an attack on the quality or informational value of the licensinghandbook.com website. It's just that the rules of Wikipedia, I think, quite clearly disallow this link in this particular instance. Moulding (talk) 13:58, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Speaking as an otherwise uninvolved administrator who was emailed regarding this issue, I have to say that Moulding`s understanding of WP:ELNO and WP:COI look spot-on. --Kralizec! (talk) 23:07, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Software can be proprietary not Licenses[edit]

pro·pri·e·tary Pronunciation: \prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē\ Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural pro·pri·e·tar·ies Etymology: Middle English propietarie, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin propietarius, from Late Latin, adjective Date: 15th century 1: one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something; specifically : proprietor 1 2: something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker; specifically : a drug (as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture 3: a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence organization

proprietary Function: adjective Etymology: Late Latin proprietarius, from Latin proprietas property — more at property Date: 1589 1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a proprietor <proprietary rights> 2 : used, made, or marketed by one having the exclusive legal right <a proprietary process> <proprietary software> 3 : privately owned and managed and run as a profit-making organization <a proprietary clinic>

Perhaps you have a different dictionary? Perhaps this is the GNUish and not the English Wiki? Shjacks45 (talk) 13:10, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

The term "proprietary license" is conventionally used to describe any kind of software license where the producer of the software maintains that they retain ownership over copies of the software that are distributed to end-users. This, by the definitions you gave for the word proprietary, seems to make the term quite apt. I'm not sure why you think the term is mis-applied here. Usage of this term has nothing to do with GNU -- it is commonly used throughout the software industry, often even in contexts that don't involve any kind of open source. Nevertheless, even if use of the word "proprietary" in this instance were technically improper, it is a term that is widely used by convention. So it may be a misnomer (I'm not saying that I think it is, I find it appropriate) but it is the de facto name for the type of license described here. Moulding (talk) 18:00, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Free Software Vs Proprietary Software[edit]

The definition given here of free software is misleading and self contradictory. A free software does not transfer its ownership (Copyright) to the other parties. It simply grants license to others to use the software and to work upon it in a manner not contemplated by the traditional copyright law. It grants freedom to exploit the source and other codes of the software and to derive another software out of the free software. The license so granted is subject to promise by the licensee to perpetuate the license conditions as is received by him to the derivative works (developed out of the free software)i.e the licensee has to make his own work derived from the free software subject to the License as accepted by him for making use of free software.check this link on Copyleft licensing of software. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copy_left

The entire gamut of software licensing in the free software is governed by a system of licensing. Licensing by definition is a 'conditional transfer of some and not all rights' over particular work in which case the Author continues to remain the Owner of the copyright in the software. He merely allows the 'GNUGPL or other similar licensees' to enjoy the rights but also bound by its conditions. The idea behind the free software movement is to 'perpetuate or spread or expand the the right to work on a software without any limitations and derive new works out of it'.

A software is free in true sense only if the Author of such software irrevocably waives his rights over it in which case it becomes free for all software. In the absence of ownership (copyright) rights over free software, the question of free software licenses and their control on how you must license your work do not arise. Appropriate changes need to be incorporated to the meaning of free software in this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 202.138.120.65 (talk) 08:24, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

This article needs a lot of improvement.[edit]

I have done a bit of correction but still this article needs a lot of improvement.

Suggestions and productive collaboration are welcome.

--Grandscribe (talk) 17:52, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I've made a start, by removing the misleading info and adding detail to the open source license section Gavinatkinson (talk) 15:51, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Yeah it does. Some idiot wrote this article as though FOSS is the synonymous with free licensing and open source licensing. This ain't fucking rocket science. You can have free licenses. You can have open source licenses. You can have free open source licenses. They are three distinct types of licensing. I am not surprised. A lot of twats in FOSS orgs would like to pretend you cannot have a free license without open source or open source without a free license. Sadly for them reality does not conform with their fruity stupidity.

Basics of software licensing[edit]

Is the following article suitable for Wikipedia? The existing articles are too special, and this one gives people an added value / insight / overview on the basics of (commercial) software licensing. I think that "Software" or "Software Licenses" would be a good fit, what do you think, could this article be included or added? I am the author of the text.


Basics of software licensing

Software manufacturers offer different license models. Licensing is usually per single user (named user, client, node) or per user in the appropriate volume discount level, while some manufacturers accumulate existing licenses. 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 amount of licenses over a fixed period (mostly two years). Licensing per concurrent/floating user is also possible. Here all users in a network have access to the program, but only a specific number at the same time. Another license model is licensing per dongle which allows the owner of the dongle to use the program on any computer. Licensing per server, CPU or points, regardless the number of users, is common practice as well as Site or Company Licenses. Sometimes you can choose between perpetual (permanent) and annual license. For perpetual licenses one year of maintenance is often required, but maintenance (subscription) renewals are discounted. For annual licenses, there is no Renewal, a new license must be purchased after expiration. Licensing can be per Host/Client (or Guest), Mailbox, IP-Address, Domain etc., depending on how the program is used. Additional users are inter alia licensed per Extension Pack (e.g. up to 99 user), which includes the Base Pack (e.g. 5 user). Some programs are modular, so you have to buy a base product before you can use other modules.

Software licensing also includes maintenance. This, usually with a term of one year, is either included or optional, but must be often bought with the software. The maintenance agreement (contract) contains Minor Updates (V.1.1 => 1.2), sometimes Major Updates (V.1.2 => 2.0) and is called e.g. Update Insurance, Upgrade Assurance. For a Major Update the customer has to buy an Upgrade, if not included in the maintenance. For a maintenance renewal some manufacturers charge a Reinstatement (Reinstallment) Fee retroactively per month, in case the current maintenance has expired. Maintenance normally doesn't include technical support. Here you differentiate between e-mail and tel. support, also availability (e.g. 5x8, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day) and reaction time (e.g. three hours) can play a role. This is likely named Gold, Silver and Bronze Support. Support is also licensed per incident as Incident Pack (e.g. five support incidents per year).

Many manufacturers offer special conditions for schools and government agencies (EDU/GOV License). Migration from another product (Crossgrade), even from a different manufacturer (Competitive Upgrade) is gladly offered.

Basically, inquiries on volume licenses should always be addressed to the manufacturer. The contact can also be made through a reseller like Software Researches. Manufacturers are always responsive, but may refer to a reseller. The channel partner will find a solution with the manufacturer for any request or any problem. In the case of existing licenses the contact to the manufacturer must of course be maintained, which can also be done by a reseller, but the customer as licensee (end user) should not ignore e-mails from the manufacturer, as they could contain important information about license key, download instructions, login details, new releases/ versions etc. Thomas Scholten (talk) 00:28, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Looks good, through please add source!. I added the text, except the last section as that part lacked encyclopedic value. Guides and suggestions for manufacturers and users should be avoided in articles on Wikipedia. Remember that you also do not need to ask permission for adding content to the article. Be bold, and just edit! :). Belorn (talk) 15:09, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Hello Belorn,
thank you for editing and adding my text to the article "Software license". I just didn't dare to do it myself. I'm proud that I could contribute something to Wikipedia.
By the way, the source of my text is: www.softwareresearches.net. You could state that URL under "References" or "External links".
Also I noticed that the link "Definition of software licensing" under "External links" on that page is not working: "This content is no longer available on Knol." Thank you again! Thomas Scholten (talk) 19:20, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I deleted the Knol links as Knol has been discontinued as of May 1, 2012 (http://knol.google.com/k). Thomas Scholten (talk) 22:37, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
I understand the hesitation of doing changes to Wikipedia, but I hope it does not stop you next time. The Wikipedia community is based around the concept that everyone can improve and update the encyclopedia. The above section you made is a clear example of a strong and good improvement. I hope to see more of them :). Belorn (talk) 07:23, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Isn't there something called a Token-Based License? Shouldn't that be discussed here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 199.46.196.231 (talk) 16:34, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

The token license model is a variant of the concurrent/floating license model, which is already described in the text. I wanted to provide an overview on the basics of (proprietary) software licensing, not an in-depth look, as there are many specialized pages on wikipedia. I think we shouldn't mention the token software license model at this point. There are so many variations of software licensing, which can not all be explained in a paragraph:-) Thomas Scholten (talk) 17:28, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Source code without a license, public domain or not?[edit]

What guidelines apply to source code that was always distributed freely, used in a scientific environment (such that the use of the software would be cited in scientific publications), but was never distributed under a certain software license? Specifically, if the source code is available on the internet, but the author of the software is dead, is that piece of software public domain or not? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.206.94.137 (talk) 23:35, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

vssg — Preceding unsigned comment added by 115.248.139.203 (talk) 12:10, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

All software written is under copyright, even if the author of the software died. In the case of death, the copyright is transferred to any surviving relatives, or the state to be auctioned off if non such relatives exist. Published source code does not fall under any exception, and even if someone gave away books with the source code in them, the legal status of the code would still be the same (ie, under copyright). Public domain only happens once the copyright has expired, which for software is unlikely to happen in this lifetime. Belorn (talk) 12:42, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

This entire thing is biased.[edit]

This entire description is written from a limited point of view. There are a lot more types of licenses out there than the ones listed. In addition, the categories provided are not true types, but are the names used by certain manufacturers/vendors.

Also, it says software maintance is part of the license and this is just plain wrong. Sometimes they are sold as a bundle, but they are two distinct things. In fact, the term maintenance can be mean a whole lot of different things depending on the manufacturer/vendor.

This entire thing needs a re-write by a qualified software license compliance expert. Here is an outline for where this definition should be heading.

NUMBER OF COPIES: Per Instance – the right to use one installed copy Per Person — the right for one person to use multiple copies Per CPU - etc... I've encountered at least a dozen types of licenses

TIME LIMIT: Perpetual – the right to use the specified version never expires Lease – the right to use the specified version has a defined end-date

OTHER LIMITS: Site License – the right to use is restricted to a physical location, but typically no limit of persons or instances (so far I have only seen this with a Lease)


Stand Alone – the license key is stored on the desktop with the software and cannot be shared Network – the license key is stored on a server and loaned to a desktop temporarily (often called concurrent or floating licenses)

USB License Key – often called a dongle, is a USB device that must be connected to the machine that needs the license key. Not to be confused with a Security Token – often called a fob, is a device that randomly generates an access code to be manually entered

Issue Support – service that provides assistance with issue resolution, such as when product will not install Product Patching – provides minor patch releases for the current version Product Upgrade – provides major release to a new version Data Service – provides operational data that is used within the application Consulting Service – service that provides for guidance on how to use the application or how to operate


Confusing Terminology

These are terms that will be used differently be each vendor. They are vague, confusing, or contradictory. Make sure you know what how this term will be interpreted by the person you are talking to.

Subscription or Maintenance – could include any combination of issue support, product patching, product upgrade, data service, consulting service. It could be a perpetual license or a lease.

Multi-Use License Key – this is any license key you can use more than one time. It could be a perpetual or lease license. It could be a network or stand-alone. This term does not really define the type of license so much as describe the quantity purchased.

Commercial Use – this term can actually mean two different things. 1. It can refer to the use of the software by a commercial entity or any of its employees, etc. An example is using label making software at a pipeline company. 2. Or it can refer to the re-selling of the software’s functionality, often called ‘used for commercial purposes’. An example of this would be using the label making software at a company that sells label making services. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 38.114.195.84 (talk) 19:26, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

International Perspective[edit]

If you are familiar with international copyright law or laws of non-U.S. nations, please contribute to this article!

Currently this article is almost entirely focused on law in the United States, often without explicitly stating so. International perspectives on software licenses and their enforceability is sorely lacking. --BBUCommander (talk) 19:56, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Lead rewrite template[edit]

Someone added a lead rewrite template to the article, with the reason: "It's currently written from the point of view of proprietary software: "contract law", "end-user","software owner","license agreement". In addition the last sentence of the second paragraph is broken". All of the these terms are equally applicable to free and open source software, as well. As it is stated at Open source software#Open software licensing, an American court ruled that "free software licences definitely do set legally binding conditions on the use of copyrighted work, and they are therefore enforceable under existing copyright law. As a result, if end-users do violate the licensing conditions, their license disappears, meaning they are infringing copyright". Therefore, the first part of the tag (about the point of view) should be removed; if you disagree, please state why. --Joshua Issac (talk) 12:45, 23 August 2013 (UTC)