The Business Dictionary defines a software licence as follows:
“Permission to use a software on non-exclusive basis, and subject to the listed conditions. A software license does not automatically transfer the ownership of the software to the buyer and its purchase price, in effect, is a one time rental fee.”
As simple as this sounds, there are today thousands of different kinds of software licences. Ranging from licences that allow free changes and distribution of the software - Open Source Licences (for example the GNU General Public Licence) - to licences that are strongly restrictive.
To be considered a “real” Open Source Software the allocated licence has to fullfill the 10 requirements of the Open Source Institute (Source: www.opensource.org):
Open Source Licences allow the use of source code for anybody and therefore allows access to a broad and creative input. In opposition the idea behind restrictive licences is to protect the intellectual property of the creator and to restrict the rights of distribution.
Both models are continuously and controversial discussed and some ways in between (like for example the shared source initiative of Microsoft) are also considered. It seems to be clear that both extrems have their advantages and disatvantages.
— Elena García 2011/05/16 21:49