Table of Contents

    Licencing or transferring

    What is a licence? What is a transfer?

    Software is protected by copyright under certain conditions. A licence or transfer of rights is, therefore, required in order to use a piece of software. Actually, the licence constitutes an authorisation to use the software. If the rights are transferred, the authors of the software no longer have the rights they transferred. 

    The licence is, often, placed in the box containing the copy of the software. If the software has been purchased on the Internet, the licence often takes the form of a window that opens before the software installation process and contains a text with which the Internet user must agree by clicking the "Accept" box.

    It is this document that sets out the conditions for the use of the software. 

    It will generally include:

    • a list of the rights of use that are given to the user: what they can do with the software (e.g. use the software, install it on one or more workstations, receive updates for a certain period, etc.);
    • a list of the limits placed on its use (e.g. ban on making copies of the software and distributing them);
    • the conditions of use (e.g. pay the price, do not modify the program);
    • possibly a guarantee, etc.  

    However, please note that if the licence does not explicitly prohibit certain acts (for example, the licence does not state that no copies of the software must be made), this does not mean that the user is allowed to copy the software. In fact, it is exactly the opposite: anything that is not expressly authorised in the licence is prohibited! 

    If there is no licence

    If there is no licence with the software, does this mean that you can do what you want?

    No, it is exactly the opposite. If there is no mention of what I can do with the program, it means that I cannot do anything with it, not even use it.

    What I can do with a licence

    In general, the licences that accompany software for the general public are fairly restrictive and only impart the rights listed below. However, there are differences between licences and you should read them carefully, if you want to be sure of the exact scope of the authorisations they confer. But the user still has certain minimum rights:

    Using the software

    A licence gives the beneficiary the right to use the program. He can therefore install the program on his computer and use it for the purposes for which it was designed (e.g. word processing, spreadsheets, messaging software, etc.).

    The licence often sets limits on use. For example, the software can only be used for private purposes.

    If possible, the user may also correct programming errors ("debugging") and carry out minor software maintenance if this is necessary to use the programme. The vendor of the software licence sometimes reserves the right to carry out maintenance to himself and therefore prohibits the user from doing so himself.

    Making a backup copy of the software

    The user may make a single backup copy of the software, if the seller does not provide one.

    Giving away or selling a program

    Copyright does not prevent a software purchaser from selling or giving his copy to a third party. However in this case, he cannot keep a copy for himself either on his computer or on an external medium.

    What I cannot do

    Copy the program

    It is prohibited to copy a program if the licence does not explicitly authorise this. This involves all copies, regardless of their medium - DVD, hard disk, USB key, floppy disk, etc.

    With the exception of free software, authors generally prohibit any copies of the software. This is why a licence is valid for a single workstation or the number of workstations specified in the licence. Because installing a program on several workstations requires making as many copies.

    Likewise, without authorisation and if technically possible, users can make a (single) backup copy of the software.

    Distributing the program

    With the exception of free software, licences do not generally grant the right to distribute copies of the software, even if they are free. Consequently, you cannot make copies of the software and give them away or sell them, even to a close friend.

    Nor can you put the software on the Internet so that it can be downloaded or used by Internet users.

    Last update
    23 March 2022