Software License Review

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What Is a Software License Review?

A software license review covers the details of a software license agreement. For example, a software license can include a software end user license agreement, service license agreement, subscriber agreement, and privacy policy.

Software licenses are an essential part of a SaaS agreement. The license determines legally binding guidelines for end users of the software, including:

  • Use and distribution
  • Their right to one or more copies
  • The penalties for violating any terms and conditions within the agreement

The review process ensures that the software license agreement is fair to users and protects the company. It is also a critical aspect of maintaining software compliance.

Developers must meet government and regulatory standards, and their software license reflects their product’s quality and the company’s trustworthiness.

Here is an article that explains what a software license is.

Types of Software Licenses

There are several types of software licenses that a company may use. These are:

  • Public Domain
  • Permissive
  • LGPL
  • Copyleft
  • Proprietary

1. Public Domain

A public domain software has no copyright, and it is free for the public to use and distribute at its discretion. Open-source software is public domain, and its software user license will reflect the open-ended nature of its design.

Because the software is unpatented and unrestricted, anyone can download, use, and modify it however they like. While no software license is required for public domain programs, it is common for developers to include the Creative Commons License.

2. Permissive

A permissive software use agreement carries limited regulations regarding copyrights. It allows users to distribute the software without modifying it in any way. Although it is often confused with public domain software, permissive software still has some requirements and set limitations for its users.

3. LGPL

An LGPL software license is an open-source software license that permits open sharing with the public. The most significant stipulation of LGPL software licenses is the requirement to allow end users to obtain modifications and copyright information readily.

4. Copyleft

Copyleft allows any software to be freely modified and distributed as long as the user gives attribution to the original creator. Furthermore, any product derived from the copyleft software must follow the same conditions.

For example, someone cannot alter a copylefted code for a website theme, then sell that theme to the public. They would only be able to redistribute their modified code for free.

5. Proprietary

The strictest type of software license agreement is the proprietary license. Under a proprietary license, the company that made the software maintains complete ownership and control over its code, features, and user rights.

There are binding guidelines for end users in this type of agreement, which can incur legal penalties if they violate any of the terms and conditions of their user agreement. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to read the end user's agreement before using software in any way.

Here is an article with more information about licensing agreements.

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What Types of Lawyers Review Software Licenses?

A software lawyer or technology attorney reviews software licenses and all their terms and conditions. They ensure that the company’s license complies with regulations while protecting end users’ best interests.

Technology lawyers specializing in software often work with SaaS companies and developers who want to protect their products. As a result, they understand the importance of preserving intellectual property and are well-versed in IP law.

Working with a technology lawyer is also the best way to ensure that your software license meets national and international requirements.

Here is an article with more details about technology law.

Why Should Companies Review their Software Licenses?

The biggest reason to review a software license is to ensure that your company and product always comply with federal regulations. The continual review also helps companies protect themselves from copyright infringement and losses due to license violations.

At times, the company may also need to update its software maintenance agreement or SMA. This document outlines the developer’s obligation to provide technical support to its end users.

Updating software licenses can provide companies and consumers with greater peace of mind. In addition, continued review and annual updates benefit any company’s risk management strategy.

Here is an article about software maintenance agreements and their role in licensing.

What is Software License Compliance?

For developers, software license compliance is a process of ensuring that you are offering all the services you are legally obligated to. In addition, license compliance helps consumers understand exactly how they can use software and guides them on what steps to take if they encounter complications.

License compliance assures organizations are using the software as the developers permit them. This prevents any violations and accidental damages incurred from violating agreements.

Here is an article with more information about the importance of software compliance.

How Do You Audit Software Licenses?

A software license audit is common among companies that issue licenses to organizations. For example, Amazon and Microsoft commonly perform audits to ensure that their users are not violating the terms of their software user agreements.

The easiest way to audit software licenses is through a software license monitoring system. This type of software allows you to identify data points and determine how, if any, users are not compliant with their agreement.

Here is an article on how to do a software audit.

What Should I Look for in a Software License?

As an end user, there are several features you should always look for when you download a new software:

  • Restrictions for use.
  • Warranty disclaimers.
  • Privacy policy.
  • Limitations of liability.
  • License granting.
  • Subscriber agreement (for SaaS software)
  • Service license agreement
  • Start date and termination clauses.

Here is an article with more details on software end user license agreements.

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