Software licenses

Software licenses are legal agreements that state how we can use, distribute, and modify software programs and content.

It is important to understand the importance of respecting software and content licenses to avoid breaking the law and to be able to behave ethically.

License Terms

The main rights that control software licenses are as follows:

Right of use

This is the right to use the program as you wish.

Examples: Some programs allow you to install them on multiple devices, but you can only use one of the copies installed, not all at the same time by multiple people. Some proprietary programs may require you to pay a fee for the use of the program. Free works and programs do not have any limitation of this right and can be used as the user wants.

Distribution right

It deals with the right to be able to make copies to other people or to make the work or program available to anyone on the Internet.

Examples: Many freeware programs and all free programs and works allow you to distribute them to your family and friends or to anyone. Proprietary programs and copyrighted works may not be distributed or copied to anyone.

Right of transformation

This right controls the ability to make changes to the work or program and distribute the result to others.

Examples: Most books or payment programs do not allow modifications. Free programs and content allow modifications and distribution. I can use a photo that is freely licensed to create a meme and distribute it.

Commercial rights

It is the right to commercially exploit a program or work.

Examples: I can use a free photograph to print a t-shirt and sell it to earn money. I can use a free operating system to sell a computer on which it comes installed and earn money.

Software licenses

Programs can be classified based on the money they cost and based on the freedoms they allow the user.

Proprietary or proprietary programs

Proprietary programs are developed by for-profit companies and are sold to the user for limited use. They often have bespoke legal agreements, created by the company, and limit all distribution and modification rights.

There are several payment methods. In one of them, the user pays only once for a program with a specific version and does not pay again or receive updates. Another method of payment is the subscription. The user pays a monthly amount and receives program updates while paying. When you stop paying, you can no longer use the program.

Examples of this type of proprietary programs are the Microsoft office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), the Windows operating system, AutoCAD or Adobe Photoshop design software, video games such as Minecraft, etc.

Freeware programs

The term freeware refers to the fact that the program is free of charge and can be downloaded and run without paying for it. These types of programs are not free because they belong to a company and you can make them pay or withdraw them from the market at any time.

Examples of freeware programs are Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF viewer, most mobile phone apps like Whatsapp, video games like Candy Crush or Clash Royale, etc.

Adware programs

adware refers to programs that display advertising while running. They are usually free programs (freeware) that earn money for their developers through the advertising they display to the user.

It is not a popular type of software and is sometimes associated with malware and recording user activity.

Free license programs

The free programs are not only free, but their source code, the program instructions, is also free and anyone can read and modify it Without restrictions.

These types of programs are the ones that give the user greater freedom and security:

  1. Freedom to execute the program, for any purpose.
  2. Freedom to study how the program works internally.
  3. Freedom to distribute the program.
  4. Freedom to modify the program and distribute the modified version.

The disadvantage that free programs have is that sometimes they can be less capable than proprietary programs, although for a normal user there are not many differences with proprietary software.

Examples of free programs are the LibreOffice office suite (Writer, Calc, Impress), the GNU/Linux operating system, the VLC video player, the Firefox browser, etc.

Cloud services

Programs in the cloud or cloud computing are programs that the user does not run on their computer, but rather run on a server web that belongs to the company that has programmed the application. These types of programs can be paid or free (freeware).

The advantages they present consist of the fact that the program will always be updated to the latest version and that it can be executed without installing any program on the computer. The main disadvantage is that you lose control over the application, which can be removed from the network at any time, greatly modify its behavior or change the license and become paid, leaving us without the expected service.

Many Google programs belong to this category, for example, the Gmail email service, Google Drive, the Google search engine, the Google Docs office suite, etc.

Content licenses

We can call photographs, texts, videos, audios, presentations, drawings, or any other similar artistic or technical creation content.

The copyright is a term that refers to the exclusive right that the authors of original works have to control the use, reproduction, distribution and transformation of their works. It is a legal system that protects the intellectual property rights of authors and gives them exclusive control over the exploitation of their works, in order to encourage the creation of new works and encourage innovation.

Any work is copyrighted by default, unless otherwise specified.

Depending on the country, copyright has a different duration, but works are usually protected for up to 70 years after the author's death. After that date, the works enter the public domain and have no restrictions on use.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons are a set of licenses offered by a non-profit foundation, which serve to protect copyright in another way, encouraging the Knowledge and culture are shared freely.

Of all of them, the best known and most widely used license is the Creative Commons BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike) license, which allows that the work be used, copied, distributed and modified freely, as long as the same license is maintained in the modified works and the original author is recognized.

The Creative-Commons BY-SA license is used by the free and online encyclopedia Wikipedia for its articles and for most of its images.

These and similar licenses are also known as copyleft licences. Unlike copyright, which limits all rights, copyleft licenses allow almost all rights, while maintaining the requirement that the work remain free.

Public domain

A public domain license allows a creative work to be used, copied, modified and distributed without restriction by anyone. In other words, the copyright holder waives his rights and allows the work to be used by anyone, without having to obtain permission or pay for it.

Public domain licenses are a legal tool that authors can use to allow their work to be used for educational, research, cultural, or any other purpose without restriction. They can also be used by organizations that want to freely and freely publish or distribute creative works.

Copyrighted works enter the public domain about 70 years (depends on the country) after the author's death.

In the field of free culture, public domain licenses have the disadvantage that they allow them to be used to create another derivative work under copyright. For this reason, if we want a work to remain free, it is preferable to use a copyleft license such as the Creative Commons BY-SA license.