The most common forms of software are produced by the retail software industry and protected by copyright through licensing agreements. This approach means that all rights regarding the software are reserved by the software publisher and only a very limited set of well-defined rights given to the user.
These rights are typically accepted by the user through the so-called 'click-wrap licence' encountered at the start of installation process. Copying, modifying or distributing copyrighted software is illegal.
There are a number of other forms of software that may be encountered, each with its own form of user licensing.
Copyrighted software provided to users on a trial basis, typically as a download from the internet and often with limited functionality. The objective is to give potential buyers the opportunity to try the program before purchasing a license for the full version of the software. The software can be given to other potential users but cannot be sold.
Fully-functional software that is available at no cost but which through a licence places restrictions on the type of use including personal, individual, non-profit, non-commercial, academic or commercial use or any combination of these.
Software that can be copied, distributed and resold but cannot be newly-copyrighted.
In terms of the Code of Ethics and a Technology Professional's approach to software use, it should be remembered that:
- ...members shall conduct themselves with fairness, courtesy and good faith towards clients, colleagues and others, give credit where it is due and accept, as well as give, honest and fair professional comment.