Software Licensing

Sivasubramaniam Elankumaran
3 min readSep 8, 2020


What is Software Licensing?

A software license is a legal instrument governing the use or redistribution of software.It describes the legal rights pertaining to the authorized use of digital material.Failure to adhere to software license agreement terms often incurs criminal charges related to licensed intellectual property and copyrighted material.


Businesses must be savvy in the licenses they purchase to ensure firstly they are using software legally and secondly, they aren’t paying for licenses that aren’t being used. By acquiring too many software licenses you’re wasting company resources, without enough you leave yourself liable to a potential lawsuit. Finding the right license agreement can also make it easier to manage software in your company.

Methods for Licensing Software

An end-user license agreement (EULA) is one approach vendors can take to license their software. This is a contract between the owner and purchaser, establishing the purchaser’s right to use the software. The contract may include the different ways the software can be used as well as any rights the buyer has obtained by purchasing the software. This is one of the more basic and commonly used ways to license software.

If you’re using Software As A Service and as a result your applications are cloud based, the software license is usually subscription based. That is, you will pay for each user on a monthly or yearly. This type of software license offers greater flexibility. It is also beneficial in that you only pay for what you need “ allowing you to scale your business without repercussions.

There’s also the question of whether you can re-sell your software license if you’re no longer using it. There is no answer to this question. The answer can generally be found in the End User License Agreement. From a legal standpoint there may be question marks over the enforceability of EULA’s given to users after they purchased the software given they weren’t aware of these conditions at the time the contract was formed. However I will not go into depth about questions of law.

Another method of licensing software is by white labelling it. This is where a product is created by one company and then re-branded by another company. As a result, the software/product belongs to the company that created it. There is a software license in place which permits the company benefiting from the white label to use the software.

Type of Software Licenses

🤔 Public domain : Public-domain is software that has been placed in the public domain: in other words, there is absolutely no ownership such as copyright,trademark,or patent. Software in the public domain can be modified, distributed, or sold even without any attribution by anyone; this is unlike the common case of software under exclusive copyright, where software license grant limited usage rights.

🤔Permissive :A permissive software license, sometimes also called BSD-like or BSD-style license, is a free-software license with only minimal restrictions on how the software can be used, modified, and redistributed, usually including a warranty disclaimer.


🤔Copyleft :According to the GNU, the founding fathers of the copyleft open source license, copyleft is a method for making a software program free, while requiring that all modified and extended versions of the program also be free, and released under the same terms and conditions.

🤔Proprietary :Proprietary software, also known as non-free software, or closed-source software, is computer … Some licenses for proprietary software allow distributing changes to the source code, but only to others licensed for the product, and some of the source code, but sometimes patent rights.

Ex: PUBG Game end user license agreement,(the%20%E2%80%9CLicense%E2%80%9D).



Sivasubramaniam Elankumaran

Software Engineering 2nd Year Student in university of Kelaniya