If you’re a business owner, no matter what form that business takes, you’ll have an element of your work that depends on software. It may be processing orders, communicating with vendors or customers, managing employees, or just about anything else.
As a result of this dependence on software, there will undoubtedly be a time when you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a software license. Most industry-leading software has a license attached to its usage, ensuring it’s utilized appropriately while providing a source of revenue to the company that made it. Many software licenses have costs and restrictions associated with their usage; it’s essential to ensure you know what you’re getting into.
In today’s blog, I’ll go through a selection of software license types and what you can expect regarding limitations and responsibilities. If you’re a new business owner who is unclear about how software licenses work or want to brush up on your knowledge, this blog is for you!
Let’s start with an easy one. Public Domain software is a program or system that anyone can use without restrictions. Public domain licenses are essentially a free-for-all for users to change and modify code to their heart’s content.
While it’s incredibly convenient and cost-saving, public domain software often has almost no guarantees regarding quality, meaning they don’t always comply with best practices, so it pays to be cautious when using them.
A perpetual license essentially allows you to use that software permanently after what is typically a one-time charge.
A user license is the most common type of software license. It usually involves a provider setting a fee to use the software for a period of time before charging again to continue using it. Some user licenses may be limited to a single individual, though variations allow whole teams to use a single license. Still, this often requires a specific number of users to be listed for it to be available.
Usually, a user license will only extend as far as the software usage and will not allow modifications to be made or distributed.
If you want to modify or redistribute the software you’re using, then a permissive license is what you’re looking for. This is essentially permission from the provider to users to modify and/or redistribute the software, though not without some clear requirements and restrictions. If you encounter a permissive license, ensure you’ve read the provider’s terms and conditions thoroughly.
You’ve heard of copyrights, but what the heck is a copyleft?
A copyleft license essentially allows users to engage, modify, and redistribute a provider’s software or product so long as it is under the same overall project. Copylefts are common in more collaborative environments and may be of limited interest to business owners. However, if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, this might be something you could encounter, especially if you use a digital business model.
That’s it for today’s entry! Check out my other blogs for more thoughts on the latest digital industry development and entrepreneurship challenges in the online world.
Until then, see ya later!