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Alberta Law Primer: What are Software Licenses?

Licenses (also known as "licences") are very common in the technology industry. It is likely you have come across them but not been entirely sure what they were. A license is essentially permission to do something that you would not be able to do without that permission. In the software context it is permission to use software under the terms of the license. When people think of boilerplate contracts with tiny print, common software licenses often come to mind


Common Terms


Licenses can be limited in scope, time, and number of users. They can set specific things the software can be used for. They can be exclusive or non exclusive (meaning just one party can use it), they can be revocable or irrevocable, they can be for a specific location or worldwide, they can be expiring or non expiring.


Often software licensing agreements contain audit clauses (meaning software companies can come and audit usage). They can also have indemnity and other clauses which can affect your rights. They are often governed by a foreign jurisdiction, and have onerous confidentiality, limitation and non-reverse engineering clauses. Licenses are often drafted to be automatically renewing, a trap for many customers. There are many other complicating features about licensing. Legal counsel can be helpful in deciphering software licenses.


If you are a software company or customer who needs legal advice on licensing, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.









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