39 Types Of Software Licenses you should know

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    Every software comes with a license agreement that stipulates the terms of use. The license agreement is a document that is legally binding, therefore by installing the program you automatically agree to the terms of the license agreement, even if it was not displayed during installation.

    The types of software licenses can be classified into:

    • Paid software;
    • Shareware;
    • Free software.


    The fact that both companies’ and individuals’ software must be licensed is now quite evident to most law-abiding citizens and companies. Companies spend huge amounts of money on development, creating precious software. Daring to commercialize his software product, the copyright holder chooses the most attractive way for him.

    One of these methods is to provide the development for use to other persons for a fee under a license agreement. At the same time, the owner wants to feel as protected as possible. And this is true because he pays for his development, therefore.

    It is naturally impossible to consider all possible software licensing schemes in a short article, so we will briefly highlight only the most common of them.

    Software Licences

    Non-free Shareware Freeware
    Annoyware   Free software 
    Commercial software Adware  GNU GPL  
    Crippleware  Beerware  BSD 
    Hostageware  Betaware  MIT 
    Nagware  CDware  GNU LGPL 
    Trialware Freeware  Open source software 
    Trial   Donateware Apache License 
    Demoware  Donationware   Mozilla public license
    Careware Linkware Academic free license
    Charityware Liteware GNU AGPL
      Postcardware Common Public License
      Cardware Eclipse Public License
      Proprietary software Eiffel Forum License 
      Public domain  


    Freely redistributable full-featured software. You shouldn’t purchase such programs.

    They are usually distributed over the Internet or as an add-on with paid commercial products.

    Public domain software

    It is the program out of the control of the author, and everyone can use the program in any form that does not contradict the law. The public domain is not a license; it simply means that the material is not copyrighted and no license is required. In practice, however, if a work is in the public domain, it is the same as if it were under an all-permissive, non-copyrighted free software license.

    Open Source

    Development of the concept of public domain software, which takes into account the mistakes of the previous version. The program, as before, is distributed free of charge along with the source code. However, the author no longer renounces his rights. There is a system of license requirements for a software product called The Open Source Definition (OSD), which is presented on the site. The source code must be attached to the program. The modified software must be distributed under the same terms and conditions as the original product. The author of the original product even has the right to demand that the source code of his program be redistributed unchanged, but complete with the appropriate modifying patches.

    Types Of Software Licenses
    Different types of software licenses require you to meet certain obligations if you want to reuse the code.

    The GNU GPL is free software, with the ability to modify the code and redistribute the program.

    BSD License is a licensing agreement where software is distributed in source code. A feature of BSD software packages is a special license, which can be briefly characterized as follows: all source code is the property of BSD, all edits are the property of their authors.

    MIT is a license developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the distribution of computer software. The license does not contain requirements for the release of modified versions under the same license, which allows the use of code in proprietary software.

    Apache is a liberal, non-defensive software license that has provisions to prevent secondary developers and distributors from being prosecuted for patent infringement.

    Eclipse Public License is a free software license. The Eclipse license removed the broader termination clause for patent prosecutions specifically against those who modified the program under the Eclipse license.

    Mozilla Public License – A free software license that was revealed by the Mozilla Foundation and is used for software by that organization.

    Academic license – A free software license that explains that copyright is reserved.

    Eiffel Forum License – Permitted to use, redistribute, and modify. But copyright is reserved and the content of this license must be included in every product based on this software.


    Shareware – the user is presented with an incomplete program free of charge, that is, with some restraints valid until payment for the entire-featured product is made.

    Limitations can be:

    • functional, i.e., not all functionalities are open to the customer- these can be the so-called demo versions;
    • temporary, i.e., without payment, the product in full functionality works for a certain calendar time or a certain number of launches – the so-called trial versions.
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    Abandonware is off-market software. The author does not distribute the commercial version, and the copyright holder provides the program for free, but with restrictions on its further distribution.

    Adware is a free program, but with ads inside the program. Disabling ads is often possible, but this procedure is paid.

    Beerware – Allows the user to use the program and source code for free, but if he meets the author, he must buy him a beer.

    CDware – Distributed on CD for advertising purposes.

    Donationware provides for voluntary contributions to the developer if the program is well received.

    Linkware is a program when the producer claims for his link to be posted if there is one.

    Liteware – a commercial program that has no time limitations, they concern only the functionality of the program.

    Cardware is free, but it requires sending a postcard or a note of thanks, the outcome of which is unknown.

    Proprietary software- this term can be used to refer to all software that is not in public use.

    Registerware is free software, but registration is required.

    Requestware is a program for the use of which the author asks the user to do something in exchange.


    Commercial software is always available for a fee only. Payment must be made in advance or immediately after receiving a copy on a licensed disk or diskette in original packaging.

    Shareware – Try it before you buy. The program provides for restrictions in the trial period of using the full functionality or functional restrictions on the use of the program.

    Crippleware is a mixture of Shareware and Liteware. The main features of the program are limited. The complete version is possible with a fee paid.

    Hostageware is another flavor of Crippleware.

    Nagware, begware – freeware, but with a pop-up about the unregistered version. Paying for the program will help you get rid of this window.

    software licenses
    Not all open source software licenses are the same.

    Trialware is an analog of the previous sort of license. But the limitations apply only to the time of using the full functionality of the program (the number of days or the number of launches).

    Demoware – a demo version of the program, grants for functionality limitations.

    Why you have to practice only licensed software

    After installation, many programs offer the user to register on the copyright holder’s website. Registration itself is optional and largely serves marketing purposes (getting feedback, sending out suggestions, etc.). However, registration becomes an additional confirmation that you are using the program legally.

    There can be several reasons why an enterprise is thinking about changing illegal software, and they are all justified.

    • The likelihood of being held accountable for any kind.
    • The possibility of freezing the activities of the business if the machines are checked and seized.
    • Financial risks associated with the previous paragraph: unfulfilled obligations to customers.
    • Reputational losses, loss of trust on the part of partners and customers in the event of participation in litigation by the company’s management.
    • Technical difficulties due to the unstable functioning of illegal software, lack of updates, and specialized support.
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