About licensing

Detailed description

A software license is a legally binding agreement that specifies the terms of use for an application and defines the rights of the software producer and of the end-user.

All software must be legally licensed before it may be installed. Proof of purchase (purchase orders, receipts, invoices or similar documentation are acceptable) must be maintained by individuals or departments for all software that is installed on a university-owned computer. Vendors may require proof of purchase during an audit, and technical support staff may ask for proof of purchase before software can be reinstalled on a computer that has been reimaged or rebuilt.

There are different types of licenses and licensing contracts, and different vendors may use different terms to describe their licenses. Here are some key terms to help you understand the differences between license types.

Types of licenses

Client Access Licenses (CAL)
A CAL is not a software product, but a license that gives a user the right to access server services. When workstations are networked, they are dependent on network server software to perform certain functions, such as file and print sharing. To legally access this server software, a Client Access License may be required.

Concurrent use license
These are licenses that permit you to install the software onto multiple machines as long as the number of computers using the software at the same time does not exceed the number of licenses which you have purchased. Concurrent use licenses are usually used in conjunction with "license manager" software that prevents the number of licenses from being exceeded.

End User License Agreement (EULA)
This type of license is used for most software. An EULA is a legal contract between the licensor and purchaser, establishing the purchaser's right to use the software. The EULA details how the software can and cannot be used and any restrictions the manufacturer imposes.

Licenses with maintenance
Some license agreements allow the user to purchase "maintenance" or "software assurance" along with the original license fee, which entitles the user to receive new versions of the software for one to two years until the maintenance agreement expires.

Non-perpetual licenses
These are licenses that "lease" the software for use for a specified period of time, usually annually or sometimes bi-annually. Users are required to remove the software from their computer if they cease paying the license fee.

Perpetual licenses
These are licenses without expiration dates, which permit use of the software indefinitely, without requiring a recurring fee for continued use. Most software that individuals buy for use on their home computers are perpetual licenses.

Proprietary license
Most software licenses are "proprietary" licenses, meaning 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. The user must accept the license before they are permitted to use the software.

Site licenses
A site license permits the use of software on any computer at a specified site. Unlimited site licenses allow the installation of software on any number of computers as long as those computers are located at the specified site. Some site licenses permit the installation on computers owned by a particular entity (such as a university) regardless of the physical location. Some vendors refer to their licenses as site licenses but restrict the number of computers on which the software may be installed. The only way to know for sure is to read the license specifics.

Workstation licenses 
These are licenses that permit the installation of an application on a single computer. You may not install the software on more than one machine unless you purchase a license for each additional machine. Most workstation license agreements allow you to make a single backup copy of the software as long as that backup copy is used only to restore the software onto the same machine, or a separate machine if the software is removed from the original computer.