The Free Software Foundation defines free software as software subject to a license that gives users the “freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, modify and improve such software.” Software is free if its license guarantees four fundamental freedoms: unrestricted use, unrestricted copying, direct access to source code, and the right to modify and redistribute source code. However, it is still possible to provide specifics for each license.
This philosophy is wholly opposed to that of proprietary software, which is distributed in object code and for which the rights above are generally limited by the publisher to keep control over the use made of it and to protect its knowledge. – do the technique. In practice, the freedoms granted to users may include the following:
Reproduction of the software on several media or workstations,
Packaging of the software with other developments, internal or external (subject to compatibility with the licenses of said developments) to create derivative software composed of various technical blocks,
adaptation of the software,
Additional software developments,
Commercial use of the software (for example, by distributing it with an internally developed product or accompanied by media).
Free licenses are intended to allow users greater diversity and freedom of use. They are also encouraged to fix bugs, improve the software, and then give the developments back to the community so they can be reused.
What Are The Legal Advantages And Disadvantages Of Free Software?
The main advantages of free software such as Case Management Software for Workers’ Compensation are cost containment and a better balance of powers and responsibilities between the software creator and the users.
This does not necessarily mean that the software is free, it can be marketed by a publisher or distributed for a fee by a member of the community, but rather that the user of the software will not be a prisoner of an agreement with a company, particularly in terms of maintenance.
As the code is accessible, it is, therefore, possible to consider in-house maintenance or via a third-party application maintenance contract.
Free software on smokeball for example also makes it possible to limit the risk associated with software compliance audits.
As indicated above, the risks associated with a change in the publisher’s commercial orientation are mitigated when the community and a third party can continue the software development can take care of maintenance.
It is also easily possible to understand the rights granted to users by the developer of the free component. If there are various and varied free licenses, some are used repeatedly and therefore analyzed in depth by specialists, making them understandable to everyone.
The question of contamination is the thorniest point in legal matters. Indeed, licenses require that any development from a module subject to this license be redistributed under the same license. This feature aims to ensure that users of derivative software do not have less freedom than users of the original software.
However, such a clause can constitute a real headache for using them when specific licenses are incompatible (for example, the GPL license with the BSD license). It will not be possible to add two modules subject to these licenses since all or part of their licenses are opposed.
It is, therefore, necessary when developments are carried out based on components subject to open-source licenses, to carry out a careful analysis of the applicable licenses to ensure that they can work together. It would be uncomfortable to realize this a posteriori since exploitation could become impossible.
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