Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Free Mac Software?

By Juliet Marsh

So, precisely what is mac freeware?

The phrase "Freeware" is regularly used across the internet but quite often incorrectly. Possibly it is the 'Free' part of the label that causes confusion as when somebody gives you something for free it is typically yours to use, alter or pass on as you see fit. Unfortunately "Freeware" doesn't mean Free

You can use Freeware for as long as you like without making any payment but this software still has a license restricting how you can use it. There are usually one or more restricted usage rights, this could be that the software is not modified in any way, that no one else other than themselves are allowed to distribute the software or that you can not make derivative works from the software.

Why does freeware need a license?

There is usually a reason for why the developer has chosen to allow you to use this software for free. For example, the developer wants you to use a 'Lite' copy of the software and be so impressed with it that you buy the full pro version or they would like you to go to their website to download it where they hope to entice you with other goods.

Does this signify that Freeware is bad? No. It's free to use! How can this be bad?

OK. so they might have an agenda behind creating and distributing the software but you still get to use it for free for as long as you like so long as you adhere to the license agreement. The bottom line is that if you are using the software and you like it then you can continue for as long as you like without payment.

What kind of software is "Free Software"?

I would recommend reading any small print before deciding for yourself that you can do as you see fit with someone elses software but the correct term is "Free Software" but this term is also very often misused so check the small print.

Just to keep you straight, here are a couple of other terms that are used that may lead you to think that the software is "Free"

Shareware - This type of software you can distribute as much as you like as long as you don't take payment or modify the source code. Typically, this software gives you a licence to use the software for a fixed period (typically 30 days) after which time you need to make a payment to the developer to continue using it.

Open Source - You can modify and distribute this software however much you like. You can use it to create your own software packages and some of the best software around is open source software. What you can not do is sell this software or any software that you develop from it. You must also always credit the original author of the software and leave any credit tags embedded within it.

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