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Institute for Legal Questions on Free and Open Source Software

How can I use Open Source software? What rights of use do I acquire?

Every open source license that meets the definition of Open Source (→ What is Open Source software?) allows anyone to acquire comprehensive development and distribution rights.  The licensee is entitled to do the following with the software:

  • run it on his own hardware,
  • investigate it by decompiling and disassembling,
  • copy it and distribute the created copies,
  • distribute it to the hardware of his choice (such as a CD or embedded systems),
  • offer for download,
  • modify it and disseminate the changed versions in the source code or object code.

 
In general, leasing of the software and an ASP or SaaS is granted. The required rights of use are generally not explicitly cited in the open source licenses, but corresponding permission usually results from the context.
 
Since open source software may not contain any restrictions on content, the software can be used in any way.  However, this naturally means that the code is licensed under an open-source license by the actual holders of the rights, i.e., the owners of the copyrights and relevant patents.
 
Next section Open source licenses – general information, next FAQ: What types of licenses are there for open-source software, and how do they differ?
 
Back to the overview of all FAQs