Understanding software copyrights and licenses

How do operating systems authorize their domains? What are the different types of software licenses?

How do operating systems authorize their domains? What are the different types of software licenses?

Is the software copyrighted? More precisely still, is the Internet free despite software copyright? Are software programming languages ​​free? How does copyright apply to software?

software license

A copyright gives a creator the legal right to own, distribute and profit from their creative work. The software, like any other technology, has all the nuances of licenses that facilitate its use. At one end of the spectrum, there is proprietary software that must be purchased as a one-time transaction or as annual licenses. A popular example is Microsoft Windows which is purchased with the computer or Microsoft Office which usually has an annual license which must be renewed upon payment.

On the other hand, there are different types of software licenses that allow free use of software. There is the Creative Commons (CC) license which is in the public domain: any software or work that is in CC can be used and distributed for free. For example, Wikipedia is under CC and therefore its contents can be used freely provided that attribution is made to Wikipedia (this is called ‘Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike).

Another form of free software licensing is the permissive software license which is popular in the software developer community and in the commercial world. This license allows the free use and modification of the software. There are other specific licenses in this category, such as the Apache license and the MIT license. The Apache license is managed by the Apache Software Foundation, a non-profit entity. Many popular and powerful software like Spark (used in Big Data) have been developed under Apache license. The MIT license is managed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and covers hundreds of software packages, including GitLab and Dot NET.

Open the software

All free and permissive software licenses are similar to free and open source software (FOSS), a set of rules and free software brought together under one roof in the 1980s by Richard Stallman, a famous computer scientist and activist. FOSS maintains its own license, called GNU GPL (Gnu’s Not Unix General Public License) to govern and distribute free software, but it comes with restrictions that its adoption and modification must be used freely.

In the software community, “open source” means any of the above non-proprietary licenses. Open source software packages are developed and maintained by programmers around the world. Until the mid-1990s, the idea of ​​the general public collaborating in the creation of free software seemed unrealistic and confined to small, elite communities. However, with the success of a free operating system like Linux (which is licensed under the GNU GPL), many were convinced that open source could create sophisticated solutions due to access to top programmers around the world.

Proprietary software also has its place. Many software vendors release some generic parts of their software under free software licenses, but keep the larger ones under a proprietary license. Companies like Google and Meta (Facebook) have made significant open source contributions to software packages on artificial neural networks and machine learning, after a few years of using them within their organization and perfecting them.

Is the internet free?

To come back to our initial question, does the Internet imply the payment of royalties? To access and create content on the internet, there are costs involved such as infrastructure costs like network and the cost of hosting and maintaining the content.

However, the core of the Internet itself is free: it is free to use ideas such as linking content on the Internet, transferring it with a network software protocol, and adopting associated standards such as maintaining the website address (Uniform Resource Locator-URL).

The basic software packages that implement these ideas are available to everyone free of charge, thanks to the foresight of Sir Tim Bernes-Lee who designed the key concepts behind the Internet between 1989 and 1991 (the first web page was launched in 1990) and was one of the pioneers of the Internet.

Now let’s move on to the other question: are programming languages ​​free? Until the 1980s, popular programming languages ​​had a price but with the advent of Java in the 1990s and thanks to the initiatives of Richard Stallman and his Free Software Foundation in the 1980s, many languages, especially modern ones like Go or popular like Python, are free. Java falls somewhere in the middle where there are free implementations of the language that most software developers use, but there are also paid implementations provided by Oracle. In general, the software community realizes that a free language is widely adopted and leads to the availability of a pool of programming experts.

The past two decades have seen the proliferation of open source software, and the future is even more exciting.

THE ESSENTIAL

The software has all the nuances of licenses that facilitate its use. On the one hand we have proprietary software which must be purchased as a one-time transaction or annual licenses and on the other hand we have the Creative Commons (CC) license which is public domain and free.

All free and permissive software licenses are similar to free and open source software (FOSS), a set of rules and free software brought together under one roof in the 1980s by Richard Stallman, a famous computer scientist and activist.

The core of the Internet is free: it is free to use ideas such as linking content on the Internet, transferring it with network software protocol, and adopting related standards such as managing web site addresses.