Proprietary software, also known as non-free software or closed-source software, is computer software for which the software's publisher or another person reserves some rights from licensees to use, modify, share modifications, or share the software. [ disputed ]It sometimes includes patent rights.
|Free and open (software must have source code provided)||Non-free||Free but not open|
|Public domain & equivalents||Permissive license||Copyleft (protective license)||Noncommercial use only. May be combined with share-alike.||Traditional use of copyright; no rights need be granted||No information made public|
|Software||PD, CC0||MIT, Apache, MPL||GPL, AGPL||JRL, AFPL||proprietary software, no public license||private, internal software|
|Other creative works||PD, CC0||CC-BY||CC-BY-SA, GFDL||CC-BY-NC||Copyright, no public license||unpublished|
Until the late 1960s computers—large and expensive mainframe computers, machines in specially air-conditioned computer rooms—were usually leased to customers rather than sold. [ citation needed ] Customers who developed software often made it available to others without charge. Closed source means computer programs whose source code is not published except to licensees. It is available to be edited only by the organization that developed it and those licensed to use the software.Service and all software available were usually supplied by manufacturers without separate charge until 1969. Computer vendors usually provided the source code for installed software to customers.
In 1969, IBM, which had antitrust lawsuits pending against it, led an industry change by starting to charge separately for mainframe softwareand services, by unbundling hardware and software.
Bill Gates' "Open Letter to Hobbyists" in 1976 decried computer hobbyists' rampant copyright infringement of software, particularly Microsoft's Altair BASIC interpreter, and asserted that their unauthorized use hindered his ability to produce quality software. But the legal status of software copyright, especially for object code, was not clear until the 1983 appeals court ruling in Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp.
According to Brewster Kahle the legal characteristic of software changed also due to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
Starting in February 1983 IBM adopted an "object-code-only" model for a growing list of their software and stopped shipping much of the source code,even to licensees.
In 1983, binary software became copyrightable in the United States as well by the Apple vs. Franklin law decision,before which only source code was copyrightable. Additionally, the growing availability of millions of computers based on the same microprocessor architecture created for the first time an unfragmented and big enough market for binary distributed software.
Most of the software is covered by copyright which, along with contract law, patents, and trade secrets, provides legal basis for its owner to establish exclusive rights.
Since license agreements do not override applicable copyright law or contract law, provisions in conflict with applicable law are not enforceable.Some software is specifically licensed and not sold, in order to avoid limitations of copyright such as the first-sale doctrine.
The owner of proprietary software exercises certain exclusive rights over the software. The owner can restrict use, inspection of source code, modification of source code, and redistribution.
Vendors typically limit the number of computers on which software can be used, and prohibit the user from installing the software on extra computers.[ citation needed ] Restricted use is sometimes enforced through a technical measure, such as product activation, a product key or serial number, a hardware key, or copy protection.
Vendors may also distribute versions that remove particular features, or versions which allow only certain fields of endeavor, such as non-commercial, educational, or non-profit use.
Use restrictions vary by license:
Vendors typically distribute proprietary software in compiled form, usually the machine language understood by the computer's central processing unit. They typically retain the source code, or human-readable version of the software, often written in a higher level programming language.This scheme is often referred to as closed source.
While most proprietary software is distributed without the source code, some vendors distribute the source code or otherwise make it available to customers. For example, users who have purchased a license for the Internet forum software vBulletin can modify the source for their own site but cannot redistribute it. This is true for many web applications, which must be in source code form when being run by a web server. The source code is covered by a non-disclosure agreement or a license that allows, for example, study and modification, but not redistribution. [ citation needed ]Some licenses for proprietary software allow distributing changes to the source code, but only to others licensed for the product, and some of those modifications are eventually picked up by the vendor.The text-based email client Pine and certain implementations of Secure Shell are distributed with proprietary licenses that make the source code available.
Some governments fear that proprietary software may include defects or malicious features which would compromise sensitive information. In 2003 Microsoft established a Government Security Program (GSP) to allow governments to view source code and Microsoft security documentation, of which the Chinese government was an early participant.The program is part of Microsoft's broader Shared Source Initiative which provides source code access for some products. The Reference Source License (Ms-RSL) and Limited Public License (Ms-LPL) are proprietary software licenses where the source code is made available.
Governments have also been accused of adding such malware to software themselves. According to documents released by Edward Snowden, the NSA has used covert partnerships with software companies to make commercial encryption software exploitable to eavesdropping, or to insert backdoors.
Proprietary software vendors can prohibit the users from sharing the software with others. Another unique license is required for another party to use the software.
In the case of proprietary software with source code available, the vendor may also prohibit customers from distributing their modifications to the source code.
Shareware is closed-source software whose owner encourages redistribution at no cost, but which the user sometimes must pay to use after a trial period. The fee usually allows use by a single user or computer. In some cases, software features are restricted during or after the trial period, a practice sometimes called crippleware.
Proprietary software often[ citation needed ] stores some of its data in file formats which are incompatible with other software, and may also communicate using protocols which are incompatible. Such formats and protocols may be restricted as trade secrets or subject to patents.[ citation needed ]
A proprietary application programming interface (API) is a software library interface "specific to one device or, more likely to a number of devices within a particular manufacturer's product range."The motivation for using a proprietary API can be vendor lock-in or because standard APIs do not support the device's functionality.
The European Commission, in its March 24, 2004, decision on Microsoft's business practices,quotes, in paragraph 463, Microsoft general manager for C++ development Aaron Contorer as stating in a February 21, 1997, internal Microsoft memo drafted for Bill Gates:
Early versions of the iPhone SDK were covered by a non-disclosure agreement. The agreement forbade independent developers from discussing the content of the interfaces. Apple discontinued the NDA in October 2008.
Any dependency on the future versions and upgrades for a proprietary software package can create vendor lock-in, entrenching a monopoly position.
Proprietary software may also have licensing terms that limit the usage of that software to a specific set of hardware. Apple has such a licensing model for macOS, an operating system which is limited to Apple hardware, both by licensing and various design decisions. This licensing model has been affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Proprietary software which is no longer marketed, supported or sold by its owner is called abandonware, the digital form of orphaned works. If the proprietor of a software package should cease to exist, or decide to cease or limit production or support for a proprietary software package, recipients and users of the package may have no recourse if problems are found with the software. Proprietors can fail to improve and support software because of business problems.Support for older or existing versions of a software package may be ended to force users to upgrade and pay for newer versions (planned obsolescence). Sometimes another vendor or a software's community themselves can provide support for the software, or the users can migrate to either competing systems with longer support life cycles or to FOSS-based systems.
Some closed-source software is released by their owner at end-of-life as open-source or source available software, often to prevent the software from becoming unsupported and unavailable abandonware. [ further explanation needed ] Some of those kinds are free-of-charge downloads (freeware), some are still commercially sold (e.g. Arx Fatalis).[ further explanation needed ] More examples of formerly closed-source software in the List of commercial software with available source code and List of commercial video games with available source code.3D Realms and id Software are famous for the practice of releasing closed source software into the open source.
Some formerly open-source software was made proprietary later. Sometimes for commercialization reasons, sometimes as security or anti-cheat measurement (Security through obscurity).[ citation needed ]
Proprietary software is not synonymous with commercial software,although the two terms are sometimes used synonymously in articles about free software. Proprietary software can be distributed at no cost or for a fee, and free software can be distributed at no cost or for a fee. The difference is that whether proprietary software can be distributed, and what the fee would be, is at the proprietor's discretion. With free software, anyone who has a copy can decide whether, and how much, to charge for a copy or related services.
Proprietary software that comes for no cost is called freeware.
Proponents of commercial proprietary software argue that requiring users to pay for software as a product increases funding or time available for the research and development of software. For example, Microsoft says that per-copy fees maximise the profitability of software development.
Proprietary software generally creates greater commercial activity over free software, especially in regard to market revenues.Proprietary software is often sold with a license that gives the end user right to use the software.
Examples of proprietary software include Microsoft Windows, Adobe Flash Player, PS3 OS, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, Google Earth, macOS (formerly Mac OS X and OS X), Skype, WinRAR, Oracle's version of Java and some versions of Unix.
Software distributions considered as proprietary may in fact incorporate a "mixed source" model including both free and non-free software in the same distribution.Most if not all so-called proprietary UNIX distributions are mixed source software, bundling open-source components like BIND, Sendmail, X Window System, DHCP, and others along with a purely proprietary kernel and system utilities.
Some free software packages are also simultaneously available under proprietary terms. Examples include MySQL, Sendmail and ssh. The original copyright holders for a work of free software, even copyleft free software, can use dual-licensing to allow themselves or others to redistribute proprietary versions. Non-copyleft free software (i.e. software distributed under a permissive free software license or released to the public domain) allows anyone to make proprietary redistributions.Free software that depends on proprietary software is considered "trapped" by the Free Software Foundation. This includes software written only for Microsoft Windows, or software that could only run on Java, before it became free software.
In India, one and a half million laptops were pre-loaded with screen savers of political minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. The author of software developed for these laptops included a malicious feature that would "crash" the device if the laptop's owner attempted to change, remove, or modify this feature.
Free software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, not price; all users are legally free to do what they want with their copies of a free software regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program. Computer programs are deemed "free" if they give end-users ultimate control over the software and, subsequently, over their devices.
In computing, source code is any collection of code, with or without comments, written using a human-readable programming language, usually as plain text. The source code of a program is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source code. The source code is often transformed by an assembler or compiler into binary machine code that can be executed by the computer. The machine code might then be stored for execution at a later time. Alternatively, source code may be interpreted and thus immediately executed.
In economics, vendor lock-in, also known as proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, makes a customer dependent on a vendor for products and services, unable to use another vendor without substantial switching costs. Lock-in costs that create barriers to market entry may result in antitrust action against a monopoly.
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is a prominent example of open collaboration.
Commercial software, or seldom payware, is a computer software that is produced for sale or that serves commercial purposes. Commercial software can be proprietary software or free and open-source software.
A software license is a legal instrument governing the use or redistribution of software. Under United States copyright law, all software is copyright protected, in both source code and object code forms, unless that software was developed by the United States Government, in which case it cannot be copyrighted. Authors of copyrighted software can donate their software to the public domain, in which case it is also not covered by copyright and, as a result, cannot be licensed.
Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software. This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright licensing and the source code is usually hidden from the users.
Free/open-source software – the source availability model used by free and open-source software (FOSS) – and closed source are two approaches to the distribution of software.
Multi-licensing is the practice of distributing software under two or more different sets of terms and conditions. This may mean multiple different software licenses or sets of licenses. Prefixes may be used to indicate the number of licenses used, e.g. dual-licensed for software licensed under two different licenses.
In the 1950s and 1960s, computer operating software and compilers were delivered as a part of hardware purchases without separate fees. At the time, source code, the human-readable form of software, was generally distributed with the software providing the ability to fix bugs or add new functions. Universities were early adopters of computing technology. Many of the modifications developed by universities were openly shared, in keeping with the academic principles of sharing knowledge, and organizations sprung up to facilitate sharing. As large-scale operating systems matured, fewer organizations allowed modifications to the operating software, and eventually such operating systems were closed to modification. However, utilities and other added-function applications are still shared and new organizations have been formed to promote the sharing of software.
Opposition to software patents is widespread in the free software community. In response, various mechanisms have been tried to defuse the perceived problem.
Linux began in 1991 as a personal project by Finnish student Linus Torvalds: to create a new free operating system kernel. The resulting Linux kernel has been marked by constant growth throughout its history. Since the initial release of its source code in 1991, it has grown from a small number of C files under a license prohibiting commercial distribution to the 4.15 version in 2018 with more than 23.3 million lines of source code, not counting comments, under the GNU General Public License v2.
Companies whose business centers on the development of open-source software employ a variety of business models to solve the challenge of how to make money providing software that is by definition licensed free of charge. Each of these business strategies rests on the premise that users of open-source technologies are willing to purchase additional software features under proprietary licenses, or purchase other services or elements of value that complement the open-source software that is core to the business. This additional value can be, but not limited to, enterprise-grade features and up-time guarantees to satisfy business or compliance requirements, performance and efficiency gains by features not yet available in the open source version, legal protection, or professional support/training/consulting that are typical of proprietary software applications.
A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder of a piece of software can remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a software license which grants the recipient these rights. Software using such a license is free software as conferred by the copyright holder. Free-software licenses are applied to software in source code and also binary object-code form, as the copyright law recognizes both forms.
Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual property with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created from that property. Copyleft in the form of licenses can be used to maintain copyright conditions for works ranging from computer software, to documents, art, scientific discoveries and even certain patents.
The GNU General Public License is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the freedom to run, study, share, and modify the software. The licenses were originally written by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), for the GNU Project, and grant the recipients of a computer program the rights of the Free Software Definition. The GPL series are all copyleft licenses, which means that any derivative work must be distributed under the same or equivalent license terms. This is in distinction to permissive software licenses, of which the BSD licenses and the MIT License are widely used, less restrictive examples. GPL was the first copyleft license for general use.
Software categories are groups of software. They allow software to be understood in terms of those categories, instead of the particularities of each package. Different classification schemes consider different aspects of software.
Linspire is a commercial operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu and currently owned by PC/OpenSystems LLC. From 2001 to 2008, it was owned by Linspire. Inc., and from 2008 to 2017 by Xandros.
Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project in 1983 so that people could use computers using only free software, allowing further modification of programs initially written by others. He established a non-profit organization, the Free Software Foundation, in 1985, to more formally organize the project. Stallman also invented copyleft, a legal mechanism to maintain the free status of a work on modified versions and implemented this through the GNU General Public License (GPL). This license has since been revised twice, known as the GPL Version 2 and Version 3. The courts, mainly in the United States, have since grappled with the copyright, contractual and patent issues resulting from questions of legal validity of the GPL and other such off-shooting open source licenses.
Although IBM agreed to sell its machines as part of a Consent Decree effective January 1956, leasing continued to be its preferred way of doing business.then everyone started fighting
In the 1960s, IBM and Xerox recognized that substantial sums could be made from the financing of their equipment. The leasing of computer and office equipment that occurred then was a significant contribution to leasings [sic] growth, since many companies were exposed to equipment leasing for the first time when they leased such equipment.
Rather than offer hardware, services and software exclusively in packages, marketers 'unbundled' the components and offered them for sale individually. Unbundling gave birth to the multibillion-dollar software and services industries, of which IBM is today a world leader.
While IBM's policy of withholding source code for selected software products has already marked its second anniversary, users are only now beginning to cope with the impact of that decision. But whether or not the advent of object-code-only products has affected their day-to-day DP operations, some users remain angry about IBM's decision. Announced in February 1983, IBM's object-code-only policy has been applied to a growing list of Big Blue system software products
So if open source used to be the norm back in the 1960s and 70s, how did this _change_? Where did proprietary software come from, and when, and how? How did Richard Stallman's little utopia at the MIT AI lab crumble and force him out into the wilderness to try to rebuild it? Two things changed in the early 80s: the exponentially growing installed base of microcomputer hardware reached critical mass around 1980, and a legal decision altered copyright law to cover binaries in 1983. Increasing volume: The microprocessor creates millions of identical computers
In connection with software, an issued patent may prevent others from utilizing a certain algorithm (such as the GIF image compression algorithm) without permission, or may prevent others from creating software programs that perform a function in a certain way. In connection with computer software, copyright law can be used to prevent the total duplication of a software program, as well as the copying of a portion of software code.
Essentially there are only three ways to protect computer software under the law: patent it, register a copyright for it, or keep it as a trade secret.
Under US copyright law, which is the law under which most free software programs have historically been first published, [...] only the copyright holder or someone having assignment of the copyright can enforce the license.
You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Software on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device (“Workstation Computer”). The Software may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer. ... You may permit a maximum of ten (10) computers or other electronic devices (each a 'Device') to connect to the Workstation Computer to utilize one or more of the following services of the Software: File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services, Internet Connection Sharing and telephony services.
Under the proprietary software model, most software developers withhold their source code from users.
Vendor lock-in, or just lock-in, is the situation in which customers are dependent on a single manufacturer or supplier for some product [...] This dependency is typically a result of standards that are controlled by the vendor [...] It can grant the vendor some extent of monopoly power [...] The best way for an organization to avoid becoming a victim of vendor lock-in is to use products that conform to free, industry-wide standards. Free standards are those that can be used by anyone and are not controlled by a single company. In the case of computers, this can usually be accomplished by using free software rather than proprietary software (i.e., commercial software).
[...]that no further patches to the title would be forthcoming. The community was predictably upset. Instead of giving up on the game, users decided that if Activision wasn't going to fix the bugs, they would. They wanted to save the game by getting Activision to open the source so it could be kept alive beyond the point where Activision lost interest. With some help from members of the development team that were active on fan forums, they were eventually able to convince Activision to release Call to Power II's source code in October of 2003.
[...]fans of the Myth trilogy have taken this idea a step further: they have official access to the source code for the Myth games. Organized under the name MythDevelopers, this all-volunteer group of programmers, artists, and other talented people devote their time to improving and supporting further development of the Myth game series.
With the release of Homeworld 2 for the PC, Relic Entertainment has decided to give back to their impressive fan community by releasing the source code to the original Homeworld.
It is important to distinguish commercial software from proprietary software. Proprietary software is non-free software, while commercial software is software sold for money.
If you program for Linux, you do need to understand licensing, no matter if you are writing free software or commercial software.
Proprietary software should be distinguished from commercial software. It is possible for software to be commercial [...] without being proprietary. The reverse is also possible, for example in binary-only freeware.