Types of software licenses with examples

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What is a License?

A software license is a legal contract between a software manufacturer and a user that defines the rights and obligations of both parties regarding the use of the software. This is important to remember because each license has different rules, and not following them can lead to legal problems. Therefore, we will discuss the types of software licenses that exist.

The most commonly used types of software licenses are proprietary or closed-source licenses and open-source licenses.


Proprietary or closed-source license

Software under this license is developed and maintained by specific companies or individuals, and users are only permitted to use it without being permitted to access, copy, distribute, or modify the source code. Examples of software with this license are Microsoft Windows and Adobe Photoshop. Usually, companies or individuals who make this software charge a license fee.

Proprietary or closed source licenses basically consist of only one type, namely licenses that allow users to use software without being permitted to access, copy, distribute, or modify the source code. However, in practice, some companies or individuals who develop software may add additional regulations or special terms to the licenses issued.

Some examples of additional regulations that may apply to proprietary or closed-source licenses:

  • Limitation on the number of computers allowed to use the software.
  • Time limits on software use, for example only being allowed to use it for a certain period of time after a license has been purchased.
  • Restrictions on the use of software, for example, are only permitted to be used for certain purposes.
  • Restrictions on discussing source code, for example, being allowed to discuss source code with colleagues or clients, but not allowed to discuss it with other parties.
  • Limitations on modifications to the source code, for example, it is only permitted to make modifications to the source code with certain permission from the company or individual issuing the license.

It is still important to read and understand all the regulations that apply to the proprietary or closed-source licenses used, because each company or individual may add additional regulations that vary.

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Open source license

Software under this license is developed by a community of users and developers, and its source code can be accessed, copied, distributed, and modified by anyone. Examples of software with this license are Linux, Apache, and Firefox. This open-source license is always free for anyone to use, maintain, and develop.

Open-source licenses also have various types or derivatives. Several types of open-source licenses that are commonly used are:

  • GNU General Public License (GPL): This license permits users to access, copy, distribute, and modify the source code of software, but all modifications made must be shared again under the same license. Examples of software that use this license are Linux and WordPress.
  • MIT License: This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute and modify the source code of the software without any conditions. Examples of software using this license are Ruby on Rails and React.
  • Apache License: This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute, and modify the source code of the software, but the company or individual making the modifications must include the original author’s copyright notice in the documentation or README file. Examples of software using this license are Apache HTTP Server and Android.
  • BSD License: This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute, and modify the source code of software without any conditions, but the company or individual making the modifications must include a copyright notice from the original author in the documentation or README file. Examples of software using this license are FreeBSD and OpenSSL.

Open source licenses have several different types of licenses with different terms. it is important to read and understand all the rules that apply to the open source license used, because each license has different terms.


Freeware license

This license permits the user to use the software free of charge but is not permitted to copy, distribute, or modify the source code. Examples of software with this license are VLC Media Player and GIMP.


Shareware license

This license permits the user to try the software for a certain period of time, but to use it permanently, the user must pay for a license. Examples of software with this license are WinZip and WinRAR.


Two-level license

This license permits the user to access the software’s source code, but only for internal development purposes, and is not authorized to distribute or sell modifications made. This license is often used in companies that want to develop their own software, but do not wish to disclose the source code to the public.

A “two-level license” is a term that may not be very common in the world of software, but it is used to describe a license that allows users to use the software with two different levels of freedom.

For example, a two-level license may allow a user to use the software free of charge for non-commercial purposes, but if you want to use it for commercial purposes, the user must pay for the license. or can also allow users to access the source code of the software free of charge, but if you want to commercialize the product resulting from the modification of the source code, you have to pay for a license.

This is very different from a freeware or shareware license, which sets limits on the use of the software itself, while a two-level license place limits on how the software is used. This term is less commonly used and not as well known as open-source, proprietary, or closed-source licenses.

Several types of two-level licenses that are commonly used are:

  • Dual-licensing: This license provides an option for the user to choose between an open-source or a proprietary license. Users can use software with open-source licenses for free, but if they want to commercialize products resulting from modifications to the source code, they must pay for a proprietary license.
  • Open-core licensing: This license provides a basic version of the software free of charge, with additional features only available with paid licenses. For example, software with a free basic version has only basic features, while advanced features can only be accessed with a paid license
  • Freemium: This license provides a free version of the software with limited features, and users must pay to access additional features or to receive support and updates.

This two-level license is not very popular compared to other types of licenses, and is not widely used. However, this type of license is applied to some software in order to optimize the profit from the sale of that software.


Creative Commons license

There are also Creative Commons licenses that are used for content such as music, videos, images and text, which give users the right to use, distribute and modify the content, but with certain conditions.

In addition, there are also licenses that are applied to commercial software that allows several forms of distribution, but with certain conditions and limitations such as commercial software licenses that are only used for commercial purposes.

Creative Commons licenses come in several types or derivatives. Creative Commons licenses are divided into 6 types, namely:

  • Attribution (CC BY): This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute and modify the work, provided the original author is given credit.
  • Attribution Share Alike (CC BY-SA): This license permits users to access, copy, distribute, and modify the work, provided the original author is given credit and any modifications made must be shared under the same license.
  • Attribution No Derivatives (CC BY-ND): This license permits the user to access, copy and distribute the work, provided the original author is credited and the work is not modified.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC): This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute and modify the work, provided that the original author is given credit and the work is used only for non-commercial purposes.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC BY-NC-SA): This license permits the user to access, copy, distribute, and modify the work, provided the original author is given credit, the work is only used for non-commercial purposes, and modifications are made must be shared with the same license.
  • Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND): This license permits the user to access, copy and distribute the work, provided the original author is credited, the work may only be used for non-commercial purposes and the work may not be modified.

Those are the six types of Creative Commons licenses that are commonly used. Each of these types of licenses offers a different level of protection to the original creator of the work and imposes limitations on how the work is done can be used and used. Creative Commons offers original creators the flexibility to choose a license that suits their goals and preferences, while also providing reassurance to users of the work about applicable limitations.

As a software user, it is important to read and understand all the regulations that apply to the software license used, and also always consult a legal expert if there are doubts about the regulations that apply.

In order to maintain legitimacy, software makers also carry out a process of monitoring licenses used by users of the software, so that they can find out whether the software used is in accordance with the license issued or not. Source : Jenis Lisensi Perangkat Lunak

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