20 December, 2008

Buying a software CD/DVD

Pledge (for citizens) on http://www.pledgeindia.com, has one interesting point:

"Not to buy any pirated CD/DVD = as this business has its roots outside India
and for any disc I buy, a portion of money goes out of India."

I suspect that there are many people, who are not software developers, but just
software users, who might confuse "buying a pirated CD/DVD" with "buying a free
software CD/DVD". It is possible that same street side shop could be selling
both types of software CDs. Following is my attempt to explain the difference.

First let's try to understand what is meant by pirated CD/DVD in the above

When you buy any software from a software publisher, typically you accept
a software license, which are of roughly two types:

[License Type 1 : Proprietary software] : If that software license (legally)
prohibits you from making copies of the software and share/sell to others,
then such software is proprietary software. If you still make copies
of such software and sell/share, then you are selling/sharing
"pirated software". This is also a software copyright infringement.

What would anyone buy "pirated software"? People who buy such software do not
want to spend money to buy software license from the software publisher.
In most parts of the world, it is illegal to use/sell/buy "pirated software".

Possible reason behind including this point in the pledge, is because it is
likely that money involved in "pirated software" business/network could be
used for other criminal activities, therefore pledge to NOT buy/use
"pirated software".

[License Type 2 : Free software] : If that software license (legally) gives
you permission to make copies and shape/sell to others then such software
is a free software. The word free here is not to be confused "zero cost".
Moreover you also get full source code and are allowed to modify the source code.
Only restriction on you is you cannot sell/share copies of free software
(original or modified) under proprietary software license.

So it is perfectly legal business to buy/sell/share CD/DVDs containing free
software. Since software publishers themselves allow anyone to download such
software for free, it is unlikely to be a big business which forms illegal


Make an effort to understand difference between proprietary software and free
software. Do NOT buy/use illegal proprietary software from anyone. If you want
to use proprietary software, buy a license from software publisher.

It is legal to buy/copy/sell free software, provided you fully adhere to free software
license. GNU GPL is just one example of a free software license.

More information (not necessarily accurate):