Glossary of legal terms in computer technology
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A [ top ]
abandonware — Software no longer being maintained, released or supported by the manufacturer
author — In the case of a software program not created for an employer, the creator(s) of the program. Where the person creates a program as a work for hire, their employer is considered the author.
B [ top ]
binary — An executable program or a data file used by a program.
BSD-style — A type of software license which, while claiming copyright, essentially waives almost all of the copyright restrictions.
C [ top ]
Clickwrap — A license agreement which is read and accepted typically by clicking 'I agree' after being shown the agreement, usually as part of the process of installing the software
closed source — Software for which the source code is not normally available to the end users of the program.
compatible — Mostly commonly, a type of software that will work similar to another software package (such as one word processor accepting the word processing files of a different word processor). Can also mean license compatibility.
concurrent user license — A style of software license in which the number of licenses granted (and typically, the number of fees paid) depends on the number of individuals actually accessing the software at any given time, rather than the total number of individuals who potentially may access it (distinguished from a named user license)
copycenter — See BSD-style.
copyleft — A type of copyright which uses the protections of copyright to ensure the freedom of users of a program
copyright — An exclusive right of reproduction or certain other uses of a literary, pictorial, audio or visual work.
D [ top ]
distribute — To transfer copies of a work to others.
DMCA: Digital Millenium Copyright Act — A United States statute prohibiting certain types of activities on copyrighted work, such as breaking encryption.
DRM: digital rights management — A system which prohibits in whole or part, copying or use of a work protected by the system
E [ top ]
end user — The party who operates a computer program to accomplish the performance of a specific task or tasks
EULA: end user license agreement — A provision to require an end user of a computer program to agree to certain restrictions on use of a program that the user normally would have absent agreement to the terms of the EULA.
F [ top ]
fair dealing — The right to use a copyrighted work in part even against the permission of the copyright holder. Referred to as fair use in the United States.
fair use — Same as fair dealing.
FOSS: Free/open source software — Software for which the source code is normally available to the end users of the program.
FLOSS: Free/libre/open source software — Similar to FOSS. The main differences tend to be technical in nature and to a large degree political or philosophical.
Free — Software which is either available without charge, or which is available without the usual restrictions of proprietary software.
freely redistributable — Software which the copyright holder waives the right to exclude others from making copies.
freeware — Software which the copyright holder allows persons to make copies, usually without allowing access to the source code.
G [ top ]
GPL: GNU General Public License — A special type of license designed to protect the rights of end users.
I [ top ]
incompatible — Software which does not normally work in a similar fashion to other competing applications
IP: intellectual property — copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets
L [ top ]
license - A privilege to use or copy a program
M [ top ]
MIT-style — A type of license which waives almost all of the restrictions imposed by copyright.
modify — To change a computer program.
N [ top ]
named user license — A style of software license in which there must be a license granted (typically with a fee paid) for every individual who is to have access to the software (distinguished from a concurrent user license)
non-Free — To be restricted in some fashion.
NDA: non-disclosure agreement — An agreement not to give certain information to others.
O [ top ]
open source — A type of software which grants the end user the privilege of copying, distribution and/or modification.
P [ top ]
patent — A right granted by the government to allow the owner of the patent to prevent others from making, using or selling an invention.
phishing — Fraudulent attempts to acquire sensitive information such as credit card details by masquerading as a bank or other trustworthy organization.
plagiarism — Presenting someone else's writing as your own.
proprietary — Software which is property of a specific company for which the source code is usually not available for inspection by end users.
public domain — A work which is not subject to copyright.
S [ top ]
source code — The exact specifications of a computer program.
shared source — A type of license where the source code of a proprietary program may be available to certain parties.
shareware - Software which a limited license to copy is granted for a short period to allow the end user to try it before purchasing.
shrink wrap contract - A license agreement which can only be read and accepted by the user after opening the product.
T [ top ]
trade secret — A particular piece of information not generally known by the public which is protected against disclosure by the owner of the secret, usually by non-disclosure agreement, contract or other requirements.
trademark — A word, symbol, color or sound used to identify the origin of certain goods.
TC: treacherous computing — A somewhat pejorative term used to describe the development of computer hardware in which the makers of software loaded on the computer have the right to prohibit the owner of the computer from using it in certain ways.
TC: trusted computing — A relatively neutral term used to describe the development of computer hardware in which the makers of software loaded on the computer have the right to prohibit the owner of the computer from using it in certain ways.
TwC: trustworthy computing
U [ top ]
USPTO: United States Patent and Trademark Office — The government agency which accepts registrations of trademarks and issues patents.
V [ top ]
vendor — A seller of computer hardware and/or software.
vendor lock-in — Condition where a person or organization has become dependent upon specific hardware and/or software, and where it would be impossible or prohibitively expensive to change to something else.
W [ top ]
warez — An expression used by software pirates typically referring to a cracked (stripped) copyrighted game, application, or file.
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