Software Licensing

A software license is a document that provides legally binding guidelines for the use and distribution of software.

Software licenses typically provide end-users with the right to one or more copies of the software without violating copyrights. The license also defines the responsibilities of the parties entering into the license agreement and may impose restrictions on how the software can be used. Software licensing terms and conditions usually include fair use of the software, the limitations of liability, warranties, and disclaimers, and protections if the software or its use infringes on the intellectual property rights of others.

Software licenses typically are either proprietary, free or open-source, the distinguishing feature being the terms under which users may redistribute or copy the software for future development or use.

An end-user license agreement (EULA) is one approach vendors can take to license their software. This is a contract between the licensor and purchaser, establishing the purchaser’s right to use the software. The contract may include the different ways the software can be used as well as any rights the buyer has obtained by purchasing the software. This is one of the more basic and commonly used ways to license software.

If you’re using SaaS and as a result, your applications are cloud-based, the software license is usually subscription-based. That is, you will pay for each user on a monthly (or some other period) basis. This type of software license offers greater flexibility. It is also beneficial in that you only pay for what you need “ allowing you to scale your business without repercussions.

There’s also the question of whether you can re-sell your software license if you’re no longer using it. There is no black and white answer to this question. The answer can generally be found in the EULA. From a legal standpoint, there may be question marks over the enforceability of EULA’s given to users after they purchased the software given they weren’t aware of these conditions at the time the contract was formed. However, I will not go into depth about the questions of law.

Another method of licensing software is white labeling. This is where a product is created by one company and then rebranded by another company. As a result, the software/product belongs to the company that created it. There is a software license in place which permits the company to benefit from the white label to use the software.

Businesses must be savvy in the licenses they purchase to ensure firstly they are using software legally and secondly, they aren’t paying for licenses that aren’t being used. By acquiring too many software licenses you’re wasting company resources, without enough you leave yourself liable to a potential lawsuit (which is quite costly). Finding the right license agreement can also make it easier to manage software in your company.

The License Agreement between WorkingMouse and our customers gives them access to use the platform for developing and maintaining their software application(s). It allows customers to issue support tickets to WorkingMouse for assistance with server administration, bug fixing, and minor enhancements. The license ensures WorkingMouse can support customers as they embark on their journey.

WorkingMouse also offers an innovative platform that is used by multiple businesses. Since all these businesses use the same underlying platform they will all feel the benefit of improvements. For this reason, a business that starts using the platform will feel many benefits immediately, e.g. a mobile-app can operate in an offline/online mode and re-sync with the server as required. Everyone gets the capability as it’s built into the platform. If a company did not want to share a new capability it is possible to fork the codebase and they could continue on their own branch. However, this would mean they would then not receive any more benefits from being inside the business collective hence the innovation process slows down.

There is a notable difference between a capability and a plug-in. A business owns its plug-ins and these do not have to be shared as stated in the license management section. WorkingMouse’s innovation platform allows users to benefit from rapid development and a collaborative environment. This is made possible by the license agreement. If you would like to read more about our innovation platform, check out our whitepaper.

You need sound coding skills to create good software, but the success of an open-source project can also depend on something much less glamorous: your choice of the software license.

That’s because the license under which you make your code available has a real impact on what you can do with your code, who will contribute to it, and ultimately whether it gets widely used or ignored.

“If you are hoping to get your code incorporated into a bigger system then some open-source licenses may put people off,” says Mark Johnson, development manager at OSS Watch, an organization that provides advice and guidance on the use, development, and licensing of free and open-source software.

“If you use the Gnu General Public License (GPL), for example, some people won’t touch it as they’ll be worried about incorporating GPL code into their product. On the other hand, if you don’t use the GPL then some developers simply won’t be prepared to contribute, so picking the right license really depends on who you are targeting your software at.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tharindu Kavishna

Tharindu Kavishna

Software Engineering | Undergraduate | University of Kelaniya