Operating systems and applications are made of software. Free Software or open source software is legally licensed and distributed using agreements called licenses that are designed to require no negotiation. The “open” of open source describes the copyright enforced license terms of the software source code. Code is the name for the instructions that make up a program, written in a computer programming language for a particular purpose. Licensed software is usable within the terms of the license.
How does intellectual property relate to software? There are four types of intellectual property, specifically copyright, patents, trademarks & trade secrets. All play a role when dealing with software. A license can be measured against several standards.
- Free Software
- open source and Debian Free Software Guidelines
- Creative Commons (wikipedia) licenses may be used for non-code
New licenses are now fairly rare and the comparisons are well understood. It is generally recommended that existing licenses be used if possible.
The Internet has enabled the use of written and artistic content well beyond what anyone could have imagined when legislation was first passed in 1710 creating copyright law in Britain after the invention of the printing press. Copyright laws have been extended over the years and there have been efforts to standardize laws across jurisdictions.