RE: Software "ownership"

Subject: RE: Software "ownership"
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "Poshedly, Ken" <PoshedlyK -at- polysius -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 14:49:41 -0700

Ah, there's the rub. With a car, you own the car. With a software
program, you own a *license to use* the software. It's a long-standing
policy/standard in the software business. I haven't looked through the
entire thread, but I'm sure that by now you understand the ramifications
of owning a license versus a product.

Individual software companies *may* allow you to transfer the license,
but most of them don't. That means you can sell the manual and CD to
someone else, but you can't transfer the license, and your buyer would
therefore be unlawfully using the software.

I do not know, but I would guess that Adobe might allow you to transfer
the license. To run Adobe software, you need to activate it through a
key. You can *de-activate* it on a computer and *re-activate* it
somewhere else. They might allow you to sell the key to someone if you
deactivate it on your computer.

All this is probably confusing, counter-intuitive, and anger-provoking
to people who aren't in the industry. It has helped companies make
money, which motivates them (sometimes) to improve existing software and
write new software. To quote Brecht: "Money makes the world go round."

Contrary to that thought, we're also seeing the emergence of
freeware/opensource/"public license" software. Here, the license
protects the consumer by prohibiting developers from selling something
that was meant to be free and by requiring developers to pass along
improvements. As a tech writer and open source user, I see that the
downside to freeware is a frustrating lack of support and documentation.

I tend towards the belief that there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Companies charge for the software and give you a license to avoid the
legal ramifications of selling you the product itself. I suppose they
could give away the software and then charge for the documentation/help
and support. I worry, though, that this would lead to less user-friendly
software and way more expensive support options!

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Poshedly, Ken
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 2:27 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Software "ownership"

Fellow Tech-whirlers!

I already asked this question off-list of another person here, and we're
both sorta stumped. And even if this seems oh-so elementary, please be


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