11 Sep 2012

Licenses, Licenses

So one of the first things I am being required to do in my Open Source Software course is to read through at least one proprietary software license agreement and at least one open source software license agreement. The idea is that by reading the two different ones we will start to consider (usually for the first time) what we are agreeing to in the many software license agreements we usually just click through quickly in order to get our software installed. And that by doing this hopefully we can start to develop an opinion and awareness of the different concerns that license agreements bring up - in the last few years these have been concerns about privacy.

So without further ado I present some of my thoughts...

Windows 7:

In general I was surprised at how straight forward and comparatively short (compared to some license agreements out there) the Windows 7 license agreement was. Most of it was common sense and rational to be agreeing to i.e. generally things that you agree to such as the software being provided to you on an 'as is' basis and that Microsoft cannot be held accountable for any damages that you might sustain from the use of Windows 7.

Some of the interesting things that I found out that I didn't know about before that might constitute a breach of privacy in some individuals eyes was the term that Microsoft checks periodically to see if your copy of Windows 7 is genuine and that they may use any number of methods which are not specified to determine this. During these checks they also check to see if you have other infringing software on your computer. They do not specify what type of other infringing software that they are looking for or how they will do it. This gives them a lot of lea way to do all kinds of things that you might not know about or agree to if you knew the details...

Another interesting thing I found out was that most of this agreement is taken up by a section describing the programs that Microsoft provides that use the internet and what they can and cannot do such as Internet Explorer and Windows Defender. In this section there really wasn't anything unreasonable.

Another term that I found confusing was under the installation and use rights:

2. INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS. c. Number of Users. Unless otherwise provided in these license terms, only one user may use the software at a time on the licensed computer Windows 7 License Agreement

It only allows one user to use the software on one computer at a time... in my mind this term doesn't make sense. How would more then one user use a copy of Windows 7 running on only one computer at the same time? Is there some kind of software out there that allows you to run multiple instances of the same Windows 7 on the same computer at the same time? If there isn't than what does this mean? That only one user can physically use the computer at a time? ... Lol

Just so I don't take up too much of your time (not that anyone would ever read this) I'll quickly mention the two other things that popped out at me.

One: that all the font components and icons are owned by Microsoft and you can only use them on a temporary basis. This means that all those fonts such as Sans Serif and stuff you use all the time is owned by Microsoft... does that mean the font is owned? Or the code that generates the fonts?...

3. ADDITIONAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND/OR USE RIGHTS. b. Font Components. While the software is running, you may use its fonts to display and print content. You may only
  • embed fonts in content as permitted by the embedding restrictions in the fonts; and
  •  temporarily download them to a printer or other output device to print content.
Windows 7 License Agreement

Two: only twenty devices may be allowed to connect to your machine and use file services at any one time... what? Maybe this is clause is there to protect them from some workaround that people have in order to exploit or get more people to use the copy of Windows 7 at one time.

e. Device Connections. You may allow up to 20 other devices to access software installed on the licensed computer to use only File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services and Internet Connection Sharing and Telephony Services. Windows 7 License Agreement

Mostly this agreement was good. Although, I have heard of other Microsoft products such as the Kinnect that allegedly make you agree to the terms that Microsoft owns all the pictures and videos that you take with it and that they can actively spy on you with the Kinnect whenever they want...

MIT & BSD License

I've read these licenses before as I work with some Open Source Software at work that requires me to understand just what my company is agreeing to and what if anything they are liable for. Thankfully though, these agreements are very short and to the point and well... awesome. It's so short that I can post the whole MIT agreement in this blog post:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE. MIT License Agreement

It basically says that you can use the software to do whatever you want without restriction. The only thing that you have to do is include the MIT License in whatever final product that you produce. In other words using Open Source Software under the MIT license only creates more Open Source Software. That's fine by me. BSD says basically the same thing in slightly different words.


So after, well as I, wrote this I took some time to briefly look over Apple's iTunes EULA and listen to some of the funnier excerpts of Richard Dreyfuss' reading of it. You can listen to it here: http://www.cnet.com/8301-30976_1-20068778-10348864.html

I'm not going to post anything specific. All I will say is that Apple's iTunes agreement was considerably longer than Microsoft's Windows 7 agreement and some of the terms were kind of ridiculous like stating the fact that any written or spoken agreement between you and an Apple employee will not constitute a warranty on your product and that they cannot be held responsible for any deaths, environmental damages, etc, etc... that would come from the use of you using iTunes... ? Maybe this clause is put in all their agreements - a kind of catch all, but it's still ridiculous to hear it. Contrary to Microsoft's agreement which would mainly assuage the users concerns about the invasion of privacy most of Apple's agreement revolved around defending itself from any kind of damages that they might receive from... well anyone who uses the iTunes software. Maybe this is a reflection of Apple's mindset of defending it's own self with often ridiculous litigation against other companies and peoples. As can be seen with Apples many lawsuits against companies such as Samsung. Apple... your ridiculous sometimes.

That's all for now. See you next time where we will be getting up to some first time FireFox building fun!

- Tagged in seneca college and open-source.

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