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1. How do you define software?
2. How do you categorize software? And the history.
3. What is a software license and copyright law?
4. What is free or open source software?
5. What is software piracy and Antipiracy law and its impacts?
6. How compucom can help you with genuine software products?


Computer software, or just software, is the collection of computer programs and related data that provide the instructions telling a computer what to do. The term was coined to contrast to the old term hardware (meaning physical devices). In contrast to hardware, software is intangible, meaning it "cannot be touched". Software is also sometimes used in a more narrow sense, meaning application software only. Sometimes the term includes data that has not traditionally been associated with computers, such as film, tapes and records.

Examples of computer software include:

Application software includes end-user applications of computers such as word processors or Video games, and ERP software for groups of users.

Middleware controls and co-ordinates distributed systems.

Programming languages define the syntax and sematics of computer programs. For example, many mature banking applications were written in the COBOL language, originally invented in 1959. Newer applications are often written in more modern programming languages.

System software includes operating systems, which govern computing resources. Today large applications running on remote machines such as Websites are considered to be system software, because the end-user interface is generally through a Graphical user interface (GUI), such as a web browser.

Testware is software for testing hardware or a software package.

Firmware is low-level software often stored on electrically programmable memory devices. Firmware is given its name because it is treated like hardware and run ("executed") by other software programs.

Shrinkware is the older name given to consumer bought software, because it was often sold in reatail stores in a shrinkwrapped box.

Device drivers control parts of computers such as disk drives, printers, CD drives, or computer monitors.

Programming tools help conduct computing tasks in any category listed above. For programmers, these could be tools for debugging, or reverse engineering older legacy systems in order to check source code compatibility.

History
The first theory about software was proposed by Alan Turing in his 1935 essay Computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem (Decision problem). Paul Niquette claims to have coined the term "software" in this sense in 1953,and first used in print by John W. Tukey in 1958.The academic fields studying software are computer science and software engineering.

The history of computer software is most often traced back to the first software bug in 1946. As more and more programs enter the realm of firmware, and the hardware itself becomes smaller, cheaper and faster due to Moore's law, elements of computing first considered to be software, join the ranks of hardware. Most hardware companies today have more software programmers on the payroll than hardware designers, since software tools have automated many tasks of Printed circuit board engineers. Just like the Auto industry, the Software industry has grown from a few visionaries operating out of their garage with prototypes. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were the Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet of their times, who capitalized on ideas already commonly known before they started in the business. In the case of Software development, this moment is generally agreed to be the publication in the 1980's of the specifications for the IBM Personal Computer published by IBM employee Philip Don Estridge. Today his move would be seen as a type of crowd-sourcing.

Until that time, software was bundled with the hardware by Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Data General, Digital Equipment and IBM. When a customer bought a mini computer, at that time the smallest computer on the market, the computer did not come with Pre-installed software, but needed to be installed by engineers employed by the OEM. Computer hardware companies not only bundled their software, they also placed demands on the location of the hardware in a refrigerated space called a computer room. Most companies had their software on the books for 0 dollars; unable to claim it as an asset (this is similar to financing of popular music in those days). When Data General introduced the Data General Nova, a company called Digidyne wanted to use its RDOS operating system on its own hardware clone. Data General refused to license their software (which was hard to do, since it was on the books as a free asset), and claimed their "bundling rights". The Supreme Court set a precedent called Digidyne v. Data General in 1985. The Supreme Court let a 9th circuit decision stand, and Data General was eventually forced into licensing the Operating System software because it was ruled that restricting the license to only DG hardware was an illegal tying arrangement. Soon after, IBM 'published' its DOS source for free, and Microsoft was born. Unable to sustain the loss from lawyer's fees, Data General ended up being taken over by EMC Corporation. The Supreme Court decision made it possible to value software, and also purchase Software patents. The move by IBM was almost a protest at the time. Few in the industry believed that anyone would profit from it other than IBM (through free publicity). Microsoft and Apple were able to thus cash in on 'soft' products. It is hard to imagine today that people once felt that software was worthless without a machine. There are many successful companies today that sell only software products, though there are still many common software licensing problems due to the complexity of designs and poor documentation, leading to patent trolls.

With open software specifications and the possibility of software licensing, new opportunities arose for software tools that then became the de facto standard, such as DOS for operating systems, but also various proprietary word processing and spreadsheet programs. In a similar growth pattern, proprietary development methods became standard Software development methodology.

Software license
A software license (or software license in commonwealth usage) is a legal instrument (by way of contract law) governing the usage or redistribution of software. All software is copyright protected, except material in the public domain. Contractual confidentiality is another way of protecting software. A typical software license grants an end-user permission to use one or more copies of software in ways where such a use would otherwise constitute copyright infringement of the software owner's exclusive rights under copyright law.

Some software comes with the license when purchased off the shelf or an OEM license when bundled with hardware. Software can also be in the form of freeware or shareware. Software licenses can generally be fit into the following categories: proprietary licenses and free and open source licenses, which include free software licenses and other open source licenses. The feature that distinguishes them is significant in terms of the effect they have on the end-user's rights.

A free open source license makes software free for inspection of its code, modification, and distribution. Some free licenses, like the GNU General Public License, allow the product and/or derivative to be commercially sold.

Proprietary software
The hallmark of proprietary software licenses is that the software publisher grants a license to use one or more copies of software, but that ownership of those copies remains with the software publisher (hence use of the term "proprietary"). One consequence of this feature of proprietary software licenses is that virtually all rights regarding the software are reserved by the software publisher. Only a very limited set of well-defined rights are conceded to the end-user. Therefore, it is typical of proprietary software license agreements to include many terms which specifically prohibit certain uses of the software, often including uses which would otherwise be allowed under copyright law.

The most significant effect of this form of licensing is that, if ownership of the software remains with the software publisher, then the end-user must accept the software license. In other words, without acceptance of the license, the end-user may not use the software at all.

One example of such a proprietary software license is the license for Microsoft Windows. As is usually the case with proprietary software licenses, this license contains an extensive list of activities which are restricted, such as: reverse engineering, simultaneous use of the software by multiple users, and publication of benchmarks or performance tests.

Free and open source software
With a free software license, in contrast to proprietary software licenses, ownership of a particular copy of the software does not remain with the software publisher. Instead, ownership of the copy is transferred to the end-user. As a result, the end-user is, by default, afforded all rights granted by copyright law to the copy owner. Note that "copy owner" is not the same as "copyright owner". While ownership in a particular copy is transferred, ownership of the copyright remains with the software publisher. Additionally, a free software license typically grants to the end-user extra rights, which would otherwise be reserved by the software publisher.

A primary consequence of the free software form of licensing is that acceptance of the license is essentially optional—the end-user may use the software without accepting the license. However, if the end-user wishes to exercise any of the additional rights granted by a free software license (such as the right to redistribute the software), then the end-user must accept, and be bound by, the software license.

Open source licenses generally fall under two categories: Those that aim to preserve the freedom and openness of the software itself ('copyleft' licenses), and those that aim to give freedom to the users of that software (permissive licenses).

An example of a copyleft Free Software license is the GNU General Public License (GPL). This license is aimed at giving the end-user significant permission, such as permission to redistribute, reverse engineer, or otherwise modify the software. These permissions are not entirely free of obligations for the end-user, however. The end-user must comply with certain terms if the end-user wishes to exercise these extra permissions granted by the GPL. For instance, any modifications made and redistributed by the end-user must include the source code for these, and the end-user is not allowed to re-assert the removed copyright restrictions back over their derivative work.

Examples of permissive free software licenses are the BSD license and the MIT license, which essentially grant the end-user permission to do anything they wish with the source code in question, including the right to take the code and use it as part of closed-source software or software released under a proprietary software license.

Other characteristics
In addition to granting rights and imposing restrictions on the use of software, software licenses typically contain provisions which allocate liability and responsibility between the parties entering into the license agreement. In enterprise and commercial software transactions these terms (such as limitations of liability, warranties and warranty disclaimers, and indemnity if the software infringes intellectual property rights of others) are often negotiated by attorneys specialized in software licensing. The legal field has seen the growth of this specialized practice area due to unique legal issues with software licenses, and the desire of software companies to protect assets which, if licensed improperly, could diminish their value.

Software licenses and copyright law
In the United States, Section 117 of the Copyright Act gives the owner of a particular copy of software the explicit right to use the software with a computer, even if use of the software with a computer requires the making of incidental copies or adaptations (acts which could otherwise potentially constitute copyright infringement). Therefore, the owner of a copy of computer software is legally entitled to use that copy of software. Hence, if the end-user of software is the owner of the respective copy, then the end-user may legally use the software without a license from the software publisher.

As many proprietary "licenses" only enumerate the rights that the user already has under 17 U.S.C. § 117, and yet proclaim to take rights away from the user, these contracts may lack consideration. Proprietary software licenses often proclaim to give software publishers more control over the way their software is used by keeping ownership of each copy of software with the software publisher. By doing so, Section 117 does not apply to the end-user and the software publisher may then compel the end-user to accept all of the terms of the license agreement, many of which may be more restrictive than copyright law alone. It should be noticed that the form of the relationship determines if it is a lease or a purchase, for example UMG v. Augusto, Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc.

Software piracy
The unauthorized copying of software. Most retail programs are licensed for use at just one computer site or for use by only one user at any time. By buying the software, you become a licensed user rather than an owner (see EULA). You are allowed to make copies of the program for backup purposes, but it is against the law to give copies to friends and colleagues.

Software piracy is all but impossible to stop, although software companies are launching more and more lawsuits against major infractors. Originally, software companies tried to stop software piracy by copy-protecting their software. This strategy failed, however, because it was inconvenient for users and was not 100 percent foolproof. Most software now requires some sort of registration, which may discourage would-be pirates, but doesn't really stop software piracy.

Some common types of software piracy include counterfeit software, OEM unbundling, soft lifting, loading, corporate, and Internet software piracy.

An entirely different approach to software piracy, called shareware, acknowledges the futility of trying to stop people from copying software and instead relies on people's honesty. Shareware publishers encourage users to give copies of programs to friends and colleagues but ask everyone who uses a program regularly to pay a registration fee to the program's author directly.

Existing and proposed laws

In most developing countries, the term of a copyright never exceeds any useful life a program may have. The oldest legacy computer systems used today are still less than 40 years old. The copyright on them will not expire in the United States and Europe until about 2030. Changes, operating systems, network environments and user expectations usually make programs obsolete much faster than in 70 years (the current copyright length).

Under the proposed US Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), a controversial model law that has been adopted in Virginia and Maryland, software manufacturers are granted broad rights to shut down unauthorized software copiers without court intervention similar to some of the provisions found in Title II of the US DMCA, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, which allows copyright holders to demand that an online service provider (OSP) expeditiously block access to infringing materials. If the OSP complies, it is granted asafe harbor, providing it immunity from infringement claims. If it doesn't comply, it doesn't become liable, but may instead rely on the protection of the Communications Decency Act.

Title I of the US DMCA, the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act has provisions that prevent persons from "circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work". Thus if a software manufacturer has some kind of software, dongle or password access device installed in the software any attempt to bypass such a copy protection scheme may beactionable — though the US Copyright Office is currently reviewing ant circumvention rulemaking under DMCA — ant circumvention exemptions that have been in place under the DMCA include those in software designed to filter websites that are generally seen to be inefficient (child safety and public library website filtering software) and the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms that have malfunctioned, have caused the software to become inoperable or which are no longer supported by their manufacturers.

Most commercially exploited proprietary software is developed in the United States and Europe, hence for those located in economically disadvantaged economies it can be prohibitively expensive to pay for all the end user licenses for those products rather than to purchase just one license and then copy the software without paying any additional licensing fees. Some critics in the developing countries of the world see this as an indirect technology transfer tax on their country preventing technological advancement and they use this type of argument when refusing to accept the copyright laws that are in force in most technologically advanced countries. This idea is often applied to patent laws as well.

Notable exceptions
France distanced itself from other Copyright enforcers by issuing a ruling that entitled bank secrecy to infringe Copyright. Under the ruling issued by the General Prosecutor of Paris, bank FINAMA (100% held by French insurer GROUPAMA) was able to scupper a $200 million software piracy trial by just invoking bank secrecy.[1]

The effects of copyright infringement on digital culture
Peer to peer (P2P) file sharing technologies have lowered the threshold of knowledge needed to acquire massive amounts of information. Large networks have been created which are dedicated to share knowledge, but these same networks can be used to infringe copyright. Identifying infringing use can be difficult, since the users can modify the name and content of material being shared.

Rise of quality in free alternative software also helps to lower the use of copied software worldwide. Illegally copying software is seen by some software producers as a "lesser evil" than actually buying or illegally copying a competitor's software. Jeff Raikes, a Microsoft executive, stated that "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." He also added that "We understand that in the long run the fundamental asset is the installed base of people who are using our products. What you hope to do over time is convert them to licensing the software."

the president of Romania, stated that "piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania."

Microsoft admits that piracy of its Windows operating system has helped give it huge market share in China that will boost its revenues when these users "go legit." Bill Gates said, "It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there is not. “He has also said in reference to China: As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade - Bill Gates

Surveys indicate that software piracy is generally regarded as an issue of low moral intensity.
 
 
 
 
 
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