Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This

Legal and Monetary Issues

There are many different licenses that qualify as free software according to the Open Source Definition 2. These include the BSD license, the Artistic license, the MIT/X Consortium license, Netscape's Mozilla Public License, and the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License 20. Of these, I shall be discussing the GNU General Public License (GPL) in greatest detail. It is the most popular way to license software in the free software community, and is considered by many to be the best license under which to place software in order to ensure that it remains free forever.

In order to show that legal issues matter in a strict utilitarian evaluation, it has to be shown that these issues affect utility. With legal issues, this relationship can come in two forms: 1) saving money on software and legal expenses and 2) saving time relating to legal issues.

If money can be saved, there is a benefit of free software. If a company is being discussed, the company's operation becomes more efficient. They can either spend the money they have saved on other things such as research, or pass the savings on to their customers. For individuals, the money can be used for other things - paying bills, household expenses, paying off a mortgage, etc.

Saving time also leads to benefits. This issue applies primarily to companies. If they save time dealing with legal issues, they become more efficient, leading to the same consequences as saving money. They can put more resources into development, for instance, which benefits not only themselves but everyone who uses their products.

The GNU General Public License

The GPL is the license under which most free software is placed. The idea of the GPL is to ensure that a given piece of software will always remain free, and that others can use part or all of it in their free software projects, subject to a few restrictions. In a nutshell, this is accomplished by requiring that sources be distributed alongside any compiled version of the program, and requiring that any program that uses some GPL code must itself be under the GPL. The GPL only restricts the ability to copy the program in that if it is given to others, the sources must be made available, too. People can use any GPL program on as many of their machines as they wish. GPL does not address cost; it is possible to charge for GPL software, but the cost is often very low or non-existent since it is legal to make a free copy of someone else's software.

Businesses Benefit from the GPL

In today's world, most companies pay a large amount of money for software. With GPL software, people are allowed to make as many copies as they want, for no extra charge. Most GPL software can be downloaded off the Internet at no cost. A few programs have to be purchased by CD-ROM or some other non-Internet method, but once the program had been obtained, it is legal (and encouraged) to use it on as many computers as desired. For instance, if Compaq suddenly decided to pre-install Linux on the computers they sell instead of Windows, they would go from paying Microsoft $750 million per year [16, page 2] to paying a Linux CD vendor $7. While this is an extreme example, the general idea is there: Businesses spend a lot of money for software.

There are indirect costs as well. Businesses must keep meticulous records of the software that they have, and the associated licenses, to make sure that they do not violate any licenses. If these records are not kept, or contain a single mistake, there is a risk that the business could face an expensive lawsuit. Keeping records takes time, and even if records are kept, there is still a possibility of a lawsuit.

Businesses must divert more time and energy from the things important to their companies to meticulous record-keeping or perhaps even liability insurance. This means that either they must charge their customer more or they have fewer resources to devote to support, research, and development. This can lead to harm outside the business as well.

Individuals Benefit from the GPL

People have budgets, too. Sometimes, people are forced to avoid using a particular software program simply because they cannot afford it. This is certainly not beneficial. If everyone could afford the software that they want or need, they'd be better off because their desires are fulfilled, and they'd most likely be more productive, since they have software that fits their needs better.

An example of this is tax preparation software. Consider the situation of somebody that cannot afford to have an accountant prepare his taxes, and cannot afford to purchase a software program to help him. This person could very well make mistakes on his tax return, which could result in serious fines from the government, making his financial situation even more precarious. Obviously, there is a net loss of utility with this sort of proprietary software.

Now consider if he were to use a GPL tax-preparation program. Not only would the program itself likely be of higher quality for reasons already outlined in section 3, but also he would likely be able to download the program and use it at no cost to himself. His tax return will more likely be correct, and he has a smaller chance of getting a nasty fine from the government.

 

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020