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Freeware Licensing

Contrary to public belief, freeware is distinct from public domain software. In fact the word freeware can cover many very different realities and one should be very careful when using it.

Freeware may just be software that does not cost anything, that you get for free. One good example is Microsoft Internet Explorer that at the date of this writing (Friday July 4th 1997) is available to anyone a no cost. However its downloading is controlled by terms of use that do specify the existence of a Microsoft copyright preventing you to do as you please with the software. Note that shareware, which is not free, always allows disseminating copies (which are later to be paid for if used, while Microsoft explicitly forbids it for the "freeware" Internet Explorer.

Public domain software is freeware in the sense that it does not cost anything and you can do with it whatever you please. Like all other abstract creations, any software will ultimately be freeware, when the time-limited protection of its author's rights expires. But even when software is in the public domain, you may not have source code available for modification to maintain it or adapt it to new contexts or new uses. Thus even public domain software may not be as free as one would think, when free has the meaning associated with freedom, rather that with absence of cost. Other, more subtle, problems may arise with public domain software, even when sources are available. For example, it may be transformed and disseminated without the source code, without the users realizing (or sometimes too late) that it needs modification and they cannot modify the version they rely on.

So freeware usually has a copyright, and is often distributed, for free, with a licence. However this licence is used by many people to protect the freeness of the software, and especially the free access to source code for modifications of all kinds.

The purpose of this page is to compile information about freeware licensing, the various types of licences, and what they try to protect. If you are aware of other relevant information, please forward it to the maintainer of this page Bernard.Lang@inria.fr.

Although this page is mostly about free software, any similar information about other immaterial free ressources is also relevant and will be collected here. These include (collections of) icons and pictures, as well as electronic text and articles or educational resources. For example, free textual ressources ahve been made available by organizations such as the Gutenberg project or ABU.

Articles about free resources

Papers have been included in this bibliography for many distinct reasons. Some directly advocate the development of freeware, some discuss the use of freeware in various contexts, others develop ideas about software creation and evolution that may be relevant in a discussion about freeware (though we have not developped the copyright legislation aspect).
  1. Categories of Free and Non-Free Software
  2. * The Copyright Grab, Pamela Samuelson, Wired, 1996.
  3. What is Free Software?
  4. * First Conference on Freely Redistributable Software (* call for papers * announcement), Cambridge, MA, 3-5 February 1996.
  5. * The First Free Software Conference John Regehr, Linux Journal, N. 25, May 1996.
  6. * Freely Redistributable Software is Alive and Well Phil Hughes, Linux Journal, N. 25, May 1996.
  7. * First Conference on Freely Redistributable Software: A Physicist's Report, Brian Gough, Computers in Physics, May/June 1996.
  8. * Second Conference on Freely Redistributable Software (* call for papers * program * announcement), San Francisco, CA, February 20-21, 1997. (Canceled)
  9. * Greg Wettstein's vision Dr. G.W. Wettstein, Oncology Research Division, COmputing Facility, Roger Maris Cancer Center, 1996. A view of the future of free software.
  10. * Perceptions --- An Implementation of a Medical Information Support Environment with Freely Distributable Software ( * ascii), Greg W. Wettstein Ph.D., Dr. Paul S.Etzell M.D., Oncology Research Division Computing Facility Roger Maris Cancer Center, Fargo, ND
  11. The Cathedral and the Bazaar (* html and * ps) Eric S. Raymond, Linux Kongress 97 and Atlanta Linux Showcase. - Journal version in First Monday Vol. 3, Issue 3, March 1998
    * Die Kathedrale und der Basar, übersetzt von Lukas Müller, Linux-Magazin, August 1987.
    * La cathédrale et le bazar, traduction française de Sébastien Blondeel, 16 février 1998.
  12. * The Economics of Open-Source Software Eric S. Raymond, February 23rd, 1998.
  13. * The Value of Free Software, Jon Udell , Byte, December 1997
  14. * Lisp: Good News - Bad News - How to Win Big (other HTML,, * dvi, * postscript), Richard P. Gabriel Lucid, Inc.
  15. * The Economy of Ideas., John Perry Barlow, Wired, March 1994.
    also available as * Selling Wine Without Bottles: The Economy of Mind on the Global Net
  16. Papers on Patents and Copyrights by The League for Programming Freedom:
  17. * Patently Absurd Simson L. Garfinkel, Wired, July 1994.
    * Extras from "Patently Absurd", Simson L. Garfinkel, Wired.
  18. * Examples of Software Patents ...
  19. * Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator, Alfie Kohn, Boston Globe, Monday January 19, 1987. - Creativity and intrinsic interest diminish if task is done for gain. - * more papers on rewards and motivation
  20. * Free Software Report, published by Cygnus, 1992-1994.
  21. * Open Systems, Free Software?, in SURPRISE 96 Surveys, collection of surveys by students at Imperial College (UK).
  22. * Intellectual Property Protection for Computer Software, Michael Current, Atari Classics magazine, Volume 3, Number 1, February 1994
  23. * Intellectual Value, Esther Dyson , Wired, No. 1.0, December 1994
    and * some comments by Edward Yourdon from a lecture at the 1995 SAG Conference.
  24. *
  25. * Programme conferences Journees Linux * 2ème journées Linux
  26. * Linux and Decentralized Development, Christopher B. Browne
  27. * GNU'S NOT UNIX, Conducted by David Betz and Jon Edwards, Richard Stallman discusses his public-domain UNIX-compatible software system with BYTE editors (July 1986)
  28. * There's money to be made in freeware, Dan Gillmor, San Jose Mercury News, December 12, 1997.
  29. * It's Still Free Software, Richard Stallman, February 18, 1998 (e-mail). [ about the change of terminology from "free software" to "open source software" ... see also the archives of the "free software for business" mailing-list below]
  30. Critique of the Open Source definition, Jonathan S. Shapiro, April 21 1998, FSB mailing list.
  31. * Freed Software Winning Support, Making Waves, Michael Stutz , Wired News 30 January 1998.
  32. L'Etat et la micro-informatique Jean-Paul Smets, 26 february 1998. Une démarche reposant sur la distribution gratuite des logiciels et la promotion des normes publiques, dans le but de dynamiser le marché et de créer des emplois..
  33. *

Organisations and sites concerned with free resources, licensing or copyright

  1. Free Software Foundation (FSF) : the birth-place of the freeware movement and ...
  2. GNU, its first offspring.
  3. League for Programming Freedom: an organization that opposes software patents and user interface copyrights.
  4. Union for the Public Domain : a non-profit citizens group, concerned with protecting and enhancing the public domain in matters concerning intellectual property. Varied information and reports.
  5. Software in the Public Interest: the incorporated side of Debian's non-profit organization.
  6. Open Source : another terminology for free software, intended to avoid the confusion with "without cost". (formerly The Economics of Open-Source Software)
    Please use a server near you: Australia  France  Germany  Israel  Japan  Korea  Netherlands  Spain  United States
  7. Open Hardware By certifying a hardware device as Open, the manufacturer makes a set of promises about the availability of documentation for programming the device-driver interface of a specific hardware device.
    Please use a server near you: Austria  Australia  France  Germany  Israel  Japan  Korea  Netherlands  Spain  United States
  8. OpenContent : to "facilitate the prolific creation of freely available, high-quality, well-maintained Content. OpenContent is freely available for modification, use, and redistribution under a license similar to those used by the Open Source / Free Software community.
  9. AULA SobrE (Software Libre)
  10. Free Software Business Archives a discussion list, its archive, and a few papers. (alternative URLs: -- , -- , -- , by Deja News current or old database (search on "mgate.fsb" sorted by date), or by email fsb-subscribe@crynwr.com at Crynwr.
  11. linux-biz mailing list : Linux in a business environment (volume low to medium) - send a message with "subscribe your.name@your.domain linux-biz@lege.com" in the subject line to linux-biz-request@lege.com :
  12. Freely Redistributable Software in Business
  13. Freeware Central and The Internet Notebook column in UNIX Review by Rich Morin (about freeware archives, packages, and related issues) maintained at the Prime Time Freeware (PTF) site.
  14. Free Software Union (FSU)
  15. Free Software Repository: a web site to collect information on how the free software community works. It has an introduction and a mailing list (managed by Ben Pfaff and Ken David).
  16. The Richard M. Stallman Shrine
  17. Don Lancaster's Patent Avoidance Library [ For most individuals and small scale startups, patents are virtually certain to result in a net loss of time, energy, money, and sanity. ]
  18. IFLA Information Policy: Copyright and Intellectual Property
  19. Consumer Project on Technology (CPT) created by Ralph Nader in 1995 : Public Policy Issues Related to Intellectual Property
  20. Hot Property: comprehensive WWW resource for intellectual property and copyright law as it applies to electronic media.
  21. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  22. The Copyright Website! : Introduction to various copyright related issues. Stories and pointers.
  23. Cyberspace Law Institute ( alternate)
  24. WWW Multimedia Law: legal resource to interactive media and information commerce.
  25. * Links to Other Free Software Sites
  26. Intellectual & Industrial Property, DG XV at the European Commission.
  27. Open Development Consortium (ODC)

Advocacy documents

  1. The four phases of Linux acceptance by Evan Leibovitch, The Xunil Pages.
  2. Linuxmanship, Donald B. Marti Jr., 15 june 1998. - A very complete set of advice for promotion work

Collection of "freeware" licences from various sources.

The word "freeware" in the title is in double quotes because it is really not well defined here, covering types of software that range from very proprietary software requiring no payment (such as Internet Explorer), to software protected by a Copyleft licence (forbidding proprietary uses like the GPL) and software with nearly no constraints associated (BSD copyright).

Copyright and Licences for "free" software

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 15:21:08 -0700
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
There are a number of existing and proposed license discussion lists, the Free Software Business list (fsb@crynwr.com) and the GNU discussion (news:gnu.misc.discuss) being two of the primary ones. There is another list being organized by Kevin Lenzo at CMU, specific to dual licensing, IIRC. For general legal guidance there are news:misc.int-property and news:misc.legal.computing, as well as the CNI Copyright list (http://www.cni.org/Hforums/cni-copyright/) for copyright-specific discussions. There is some interest in the legal lists in free software | open source issues
See also CLWG (Common License Working Group)
  1. DEC : * pstotext - * SRC Modula-3 License (Modula-3, Virtual Paper)
  2. Microsoft * "terms of use" http://www.microsoft.com/misc/cpyright.htm
  3. IntraStore Server : The standard Licence Agreement for 30-day evaluation copy on proprietary Unix or Windows NT and the Licence Agreement for Linux
  4. Star Division * Star Office ftp://ftp.ibp.fr/pub/linux/staroffice/LICENCE.TXT.gz
  5. Linux ( Red Hat) * licences * The BSD Copyright * X Copyright * Gnu Public License
  6. Free Software Foundation (FSF) and GNU : * Copyleft licences
    * GNU General Public License * GNU Library General Public License
  7. * Debian licence
    * Debian SocialContract and Free Software Guidelines
  8. * BSD style license.
  9. * The Perl "Artistic License".
  10. The Caml language * INRIA copyright notice * Objective Caml
  11. Xanim, Mark Podlipec (see * Is XAnim Free?) * Copyright and Licence agreement
  12. Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks (SATAN) * Copyright
  13. The XFree86 Project, Inc. : * XFree86 Copyright * X Consortium * Berkeley-based copyrights * NVidia Corp
  14. Enterprise Integration Technologies (EIT) : * EIT Freeware Licensing FAQ * SWISH License Agreement * SWISH Commercial Distribution Agreement (click one button at bottom)
  15. Silicon Graphics and : * HylaFAX Use and Copyright , Sam Leffler, Mai 1995
  16. Aladdin Enterprises : * Aladdin Ghostscript (by ftp) Aladdin Ghostscript Free Public License: * FPL v2 August 1994, * GSVIEW FPL v3 August 1995 and * FPL v4 March 1995 (see also * paper from First Conference on Freely Redistributable Software)
  17. Licence INRIA pour la diffusion de logiciels sur internet.
  18. MTL and University of Cincinnati : * Standard Analyzer of VHDL Applications for Next-generation Technology (SAVANT) * licence agreement (see also * paper from First Conference on Freely Redistributable Software)
  19. Troll Tech proposes the Qt GUI toolkit with 2 distinct licences: * professional and * free software. (see also the * FAQ and * Free Edition FAQ)
  20. BSCW Software * Copyright Notice GMD copyright for BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work), European Software Innovation Prize 1996 (ESIP'96).
  21. * Traduction française de quelques licences par René Cougnenc et Manuel Makarévitch (GPL 1991, BSD, X, DEC).
  22. Patrick Cipiere's * Pcache freeware * Copyright Notice
  23. * License Agreement for the MiscKit, a set of programming resources donated by various Internet personalities for the benefit of other NEXTSTEP programmers.
  24. An interesting case: Kaffe is available under 2 licences, either free under the GPL, or a more standard licence for "Kaffe OpenVM Custom Edition". But the custom edition is faster and more portable
  25. The OpenContent License (OPL) developed by OPENCONTENT aims to be the equivalent for content of the GPL for software. However, it seems to forbid commercial activities such as maintenance, and does not protect against database legislation.
  26. OpenBSD Copyright Policy
  27. The Jini Technology Public License (JTPL) proposed by Sun Microsystems is not an open-source license in Open Source Definition terms (nor does Sun claim it is), but it is definitely worth checking out if you're interested in how Sun is trying to implement a more open strategy for Jini compared to Java [fsb: From: hecker@netscape.com (Frank Hecker), Wed Sep 23 01:28:19 1998]
  28. MIT Jonah PKIX Freeware * licence. PHIX was developped by Iris Associates, 100% subsidiary of Lotus, 100% subsidiary of IBM.
  29. * licence for the Foundation Suites cryptographic toolkit developed by Cylink (available only in the US: crypto restrictions)
  30. * Apple Public Source License, Version 1.0 - March 16, 1999 used for Darwin, which is a complete Open Source operating system based on the foundation layers for Mac OS X Server.
  31. * IBM Public License Version 1.0 - JIKES compiler. Actually IBM went through a * history of 2 other licences before producing the final one.
  32. About GPL and Trademark, AbiSource's solution: * Trademark Usage Guidelines and the * "personal version"
  33. The * AT&T SOURCE CODE AGREEMENT license, Version 1.0 is apparently presented as an open source for the DjVu Reference Library. However, I wonder whether article 4.1 is really compatible with Open Source definition.
  34. Enhydra is releasing their Enhydra Server under the * EPL, which is apparently based off of the MozPL 1.0. See the * presentation, and the * discussion.
  35. S/MIME Freeware Library (SFL) public license (12 March 1999), for the ew MSP-enhanced S/MIME security protocol(S/MIME Version 3).

Copyright and Licences for "free" Text and Documents

  1. Linux Documentation Project : * Linux Documentation Project Copying License * Manifesto
  2. Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc. (SSC) : * Linux Journal FAQ June 1997 * Linux Journal Copyright Notice * Linux Gazette http://www.ssc.com/lg/ssc.copying.html
  3. Enterprise Integration Technologies (EIT) : * EIT Site Copyright
  4. Glossary of Oceanography and the Related Geoscience, Steven K. Baum, Janvier 1997 : * Preface (copyright at bottom)
  5. Wired Ventures, Inc. : * Wired Copyright Notice
  6. Delorie Software * Copyright © 1997 DJ Delorie
  7. Project Gutenberg : * Information about Project Gutenberg as heading of a sample electronic text.
  8. Aladdin Enterprises and ISOC (IESG) : * Request for Comments: 1950
  9. * PC/TCP Packet Driver Specification from FTP Software, Inc., found at Crynwr Software
  10. * Principia Informatica, no identifiable author, though he is said to be William Sheridan
  11. Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia * Licensing Information
  12. The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation * SPEC Copyright Notice
  13. First Monday : the first peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, about the Internet, with free personal copy, but no distribution * copyright.
  14. Les Humains Associés donne l'autorisation de reproduire leurs textes et images sous certaines conditions définies par: Du bon usage de la gratuité
  15. OpenContent License
  16. GNU Free Documentation License

Various Payware Licences

Some of these licences also appear as freeware licences (for example the Star Office licence) because they are free for some categories of users, usually educational, research and/or not-for-profit organizations, and they are at cost for other users.

Copyright and Licences for Commercial Software

  1. * TIS Firewall Toolkit License (FWTK): a licence with modifiable source, non transferable, free for private use.
  2. Star Division * Star Office ftp://ftp.ibp.fr/pub/linux/staroffice/LICENCE.TXT.gz
  3. BOCHS X86 PC Emulation * Software License Commercial licence with source code available

Copyright and Licences for Commercial Data and/or Documents

A useful site to consult on this topic is the Liblicence web site at Yale, or its French mirror at enssib.
  1. The Oklahoma Mesonet at Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) : Licence for data given to subscribers(local copy)
  2. IBM Intellectual Property and Licensing Homepage : includes also patent licensing.

Software patents

A useful site to consult on this topic is the Free Patents web site. There are several other good sites accessible from there.
We give here only a few pointers
  1. Brevets - la Commission adopte un Livre Vert avec le document complet en pdf.
    Patents - Commission approves Green Paper with the full document in pdf.
  2. Brevets: la Commission expose les grandes lignes d'un plan de mesures ambitieux avec le document complet en pdf.
    Patents: Commission outlines ambitious series of measures with the full document in pdf.
  3. Proposition modifiée de directive pour la protection des inventions par le modèle d'utilité avec le document complet en pdf.
    Amended proposal for a Directive on the protection of inventions by utility model with the full document in pdf.
  4. Though it is apparently supporting software patents, the European Commission is now showing interest in open source and Linux. Harbinger for a change in policies ? See the page of ISTAG (the IST Programme Advisory Group) and their draft of the Orientations for Workprogramme 2000 and beyond.
*
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