When computers were used initially there were no rules or standards regarding their use. This caused some problems. However, as their use became widespread in every field of our lives, it became necessary to put some rows in place, Now many such rules have been formulated as laws, both at National and international level.
Software licences can be defined as a legal document which defines the guidelines for the use and redistribution of the software. They provide the user with the rights to usage of the software without violating the copyrights. The end-user may have the right to more than one copy of the software. The licence also states that restrictions on the use of the software. The licence specifies how the software can be used, the responsibilities of the parties who enter in an agreement, its warranties, disclaimers, limitations of liability and protection, if its use causes an infringement on the intellectual property rights of the owner of the software.
Proprietary software does not give the user the rights to modify, re-use or distribute software. It is owned by an individual or a company who develops it and who retains the intellectual property rights. So, the source code is not available to the user. It is also called as ‘closed source’. Example are MS office, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop,Google Earth, Mac OS etc.
Free or Open Software
Free or open source software or FOSS as it is called, gives it users the right to modify, re-distribute the software. It usually provides the source code to it users along with the software so that the users can fix bugs, and improve functions, or adapt the software to suit their own needs. Thus, It is called as ‘open source’. Examples of open source software are Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, PHP scripting language, Python programming language, etc.
Open Source Initiative
The GNU new project was started by Richard Stallman in 1984. It would create a free operating system which he believed would be the stepping stone to building a free software community. The free software Foundation (FSF) was formed in 1985 , for funding the GNU Project. FSF stated the following four rules to define whether a program is a free software.
GNU General Public License
The GNU General Public Licence (GPL) is one of most commonly used licences for open- source projects. Its main feature are-
- You can copy the software. There’s no limit to the number of copies you can make.
- You can distribute the software however you want.
- You can charge a fee to distribute the software. But, you must give them a copy of the GNU GPL, which states that the software is also available for free.
- You can make modification to the software as per your need.
These days open-source software is available for virtually all applications that you use. Most developers and designers want to release software as open-source projects as they want others to be able to build on it and share their code. This movement has led to the easy use of all types of software by everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds and class.
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creation of their own minds which include inventions, literary and artistic works and symbols, names and images used in commerce. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.t They include patents copyright industrial design rights trademarks and trade secrets.