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Author Topic: Software licences  (Read 5782 times)

johnk

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Software licences
« on: February 04, 2008, 12:38:41 PM »
I regularly use three computers -- two desktops and a laptop (and I'm very tempted by the Asus Eee...). I don't think that's unusual these days. But for individuals with multiple PCs, software licences are a headache.

When I evaluate shareware these days, one of the first things I look at is the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).  And basically, if it's a single machine licence, I'm very unlikely to be interested, no matter how good the software is.

Of course, software developers can use whatever licence they wish. My main gripe is how difficult it can be to find out the licence details.

Two examples: I was interested in buying Backup4All Pro (http://www.backup4all.com/), but to get the licence details, I had to download the help file PDF and wade through that. And yes, it's a single machine licence.  So that would cost me $135 for my machines (excluding DC discount).  That compares to my current software, SyncbackSE, which costs $30 for a licence that covers up to 5 PCs.  Suddenly Backup4All is a non-runner.

I also recently trialled PageFour (http://www.softwareforwriting.com/) , the (excellent) text editor aimed at writers. I went searching for the licence details. Not on the web site.  Not in the help file. But I found it in the installation directory. And again it's a single machine licence. Which makes a reasonably-priced piece of software ($35) too expensive for me ($105).

In the case of PageFour, I was so impressed with the software that I emailed the author and asked him about the EULA. He was very positive, recognised the issue, and promised to look into changing it.  I offered him the wording from the licence for Second Copy 2000 as an ideal model:

"One registered copy of Second Copy 2000 may either be used by a single
person who uses the software personally on one or more computers, or
installed on a single workstation used non-simultaneously by multiple
people, but not both."

Which seems just about perfect to me.

The reason for this long-winded post? To suggest there should be some kind of licence scheme where shareware sites have a prominent "badge" on the home page that indicates whether they offer a standard, flexible licence (modeled on something like the Second Copy licence) so that users don't have to waste time investigating the licence for every bit of software they test.  Seems like common sense to me.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 12:48:10 PM by johnk »

mwb1100

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 02:19:58 PM »
Great post - I have nothing to add, except to say I'm in 100% agreement (especially about how difficult it can be to ferret out license details sometimes).

TucknDar

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 02:26:30 PM »
Agree. Those n-computer licences make little sense to me, do anyone with a desktop computer AND laptop actually buy two licences of any software? I don't think I'd ever do that. Single user makes more sense, IMO.

Grorgy

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 02:30:59 PM »
Yep me too 100% agreement, and the per machine licence very quickly puts much software out of reach very quickly, even for those with just a desk and a laptop.  Sometimes you have to buy 2 licences, but its always with more thought and a more thorough search for alternatives.

johnk

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2008, 03:16:34 PM »
Those n-computer licences make little sense to me, do anyone with a desktop computer AND laptop actually buy two licences of any software?

The problem is, I do (believe in buying the number of licences required by the EULA, that is). I'm not claiming to be the world's most honest person, or anything like that, but I do believe in supporting shareware developers, and sticking to their licences. However if that means buying one licence per machine, then most of the time I probably won't be buying their software at all, I'll just use an alternative product with a single-user licence...

iphigenie

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2008, 06:43:06 PM »
I have 2 licenses of some software, although I often will look for an alternative for one of the machines or ask the developer.

I think I have 5 licenses of bitdefender, 3 of no hands backup, 2 of acronis etc. 1+14 of total commander

Although I really like people like wiredplane (sp?) who say "you can use your softwre on your home/work/portable computer", or people who offer a cheap "family pack" license. That certainly biases me towards a product

Renegade

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2008, 09:26:25 PM »
The machine license thing just stinks of greed to me. I know developers that will NOT allow you to run their software on more than 1 machine even if it's only for you. (In some cases this is justified, but not usually for desktop software.)

This is my usual EULA for that:

Quote
The Company grants you a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide right and license to use the executable version of the Software, where “use” in this Agreement means storing, loading, installing or executing the Software.  You may not modify the Software or disable any licensing or control features of the Software. You agree that you may not copy the written materials accompanying the Software.  You may copy the software for archival purposes so long as the copy is unmodified from the original distribution and the copy retains all of the original Software’s proprietary notices. You may not rent or lease your rights to the Software or documentation. If you are an individual and this Agreement is for a single license, you may install the Software on multiple computers provided that not more than one of those computers is in use simultaneously and that those computers are solely for your own use. If the Software license you have is for a single user license then the Software may be installed on a computer that is for multiple users but it may not be installed on more than one computer regardless of whether those computers are operated simultaneously or not. If this Agreement is for a multi-user (site) license, the number of computers on which the Software is installed may not exceed the number of licenses purchased, regardless of whether the computer is used by multiple users or not. You may use this software in a networked environment on computers other than the computer on which the software is installed provided that you have purchased licenses for each computer that will use the software, regardless of whether those computers will use the software at the same time or not. 

It's pretty fair as far as I can see. I like to sell to "people", and not to machines. People generally have the money. ;)
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Darwin

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 12:13:00 AM »
It's pretty fair as far as I can see. I like to sell to "people", and not to machines. People generally have the money. ;)

Good point, Ryan  ;D

Not much to add other than I completely agree with the previous posters in this thread.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

vegas

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2008, 08:42:46 AM »
I too, do not buy Single machine license software, period.  The most recent softwares that lost my business due to their single machine licensing policies are CodeAero (Music Label 2008) & Babylon Translation Software.  Tis a shame they try to capitalize on situations where people have more than 1 pc at their disposal. What's even worse, as johnk has stated is getting the details of license policy off of a website or from a support email.  There are companies that have never responded to my request for that information in the past, even though their program(s) are actively developed.  I guess they figure you will buy anyways.

iphigenie

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2008, 10:18:21 AM »
I have that issue now with LWA - getting tired of storing links for myself that I can then archive off my main machine. But neither do I feel its right for me to step all over the license the developer has set, just cause I think it is inconvenient.
At the moment I am testing if i can use the free version on some machines and the full version on my main machine and sync between them. That or use the DC rebate. Or find another similar product  :o

Talking about sync, I always find it strange when tools for sync' or remote control have a "per machine" license  :tellme:

mwb1100

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2008, 11:54:27 AM »
If by LWA you mean Local Website Archive, then I don't think you'd be stepping all over the license:

The licensed version of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (single user license) can be installed by the licensee on as many computers he wants, as long as the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is only used by one single person. The use of the software by different users needs additional licenses.

This type of confusion underscores johnk's original point that this kind of licensing needs to be more easily 'branded'.  Even though there's a clear link to the license for LWA, it took me a minute to locate it (I first landed on the FAQ for ShareIt link).  Something like Borland's old "like a book" tagline.  Since this licensing is a bit different from "like a book" (even if it's in a similar spirit), maybe a tagline like "licensed to YOU, not your machine".  I'm sure that someone out there can come up with something a lot less lame.

johnk

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2008, 01:47:21 PM »
Credit where it's due....

I received this note today from the developer of PageFour (http://www.softwareforwriting.com/ -- see first post in this thread):

"There will be a minor beta release of PageFour within the next few days, which will also contain changes to the license - along the lines we discussed earlier."

It may be wishful thinking to imagine that we'll ever see a "universal licence" of the type I suggested in my first post. However, the quick and positive response from the PageFour developer shows that change is possible -- approaching developers one by one, and pointing out to them that a more flexible licence is likely to result in more sales.

And as soon as I see the new PageFour licence (so long as it is a single-user licence), I will be buying one. QED.

Darwin

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2008, 03:54:41 PM »
That's really cool, John. Thank you for dropping back in to update us on that. Kudos, too, to the PageFour developer(s) for listening to what you had to say  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

iphigenie

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Re: Software licences
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2008, 05:54:06 AM »
The licensed version of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (single user license) can be installed by the licensee on as many computers he wants, as long as the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is only used by one single person. The use of the software by different users needs additional licenses.


Martin told me that but I managed to misunderstand   :tellme:
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 05:56:24 AM by iphigenie »