Software and copyright
All software has licence conditions, even that downloaded free from the Internet and failure to comply with the licence conditions renders you liable to copyright infringement.
Commercial Software (perpetual use)
In this case you pay a fee for the software and the licence allows you to use it for as long as you like on one machine and to make copies only for the purpose of backup if something goes wrong with your machine. If you change your machine, you may transfer the software to your new one, but you MUST delete it from the old one before passing it on to someone else. In some cases a licence may permit use on more than one machine, but this is ALWAYS EXPLICIT in the licence terms.
Commercial Software (annual rental)
This is similar to the perpetual use licence, but you have to pay a fee each year for continued use and in most cases the software stops working unless the fee is paid and a new 'licence key' is issued by the supplier. Annual rental often applies to site licences (where once the fee is paid, the organisation may use the software on as many machines as it likes) and to software on mainframe or server computers. Again the licence terms will be EXPLICIT as to what use is allowed.
NOTE In neither of the above cases are you permitted to attempt to modify or reverse engineer the software or remove any copyright messages, etc.
Software in this category is made available initially for a free 'trial' period. If after the initial period (typically 30 days) you wish to continue using the software, you are asked to send a (usually small) fee to the author(s) of the software. In some cases the software enforces this by refusing to work after the trial period, but irrespective of this in using the software you are accepting the licence terms and are infringing the author's copyright if you continue to use the software after the trial period. In return for the fee you frequently receive a more up-to-date version of the software which does not 'nag' you to pay your fee to register your copy.
Freeware is copyrighted computer software which is made available for use free of charge, for an unlimited time. However Licensing restrictions apply. The license may impose one or more other restrictions on the type of use including personal use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, commercial use or any combination of these.
Software in this category can used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed with little or no restriction. It is sometimes also known as open source software. Free software distributed under licences such as GNU General Public Licence (GPL) (see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html) or Free Software Foundations Lesser GPL (see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/LGPL/2.1/) .
Free software does not mean
non-commercial. A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.
If you have questions about software licencing, they may be referred to the IT Services Administration at:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: ext.4332
- In person on level 3 in the University Library.