Licensing: some basic knowledge

The Software license

Software is and remains the intellectual property of its producer and is legally protected through the copyright law. Therefore the legal use of software requires the author’s grant of the exploitation right. This exploitation right comes in form of a license, i.e. a license is indispensable for any use of any kind of software. A software license entitles you to put a particular software version to use under the preconditions defined by the producer.

Thus it  is – strictly speaking – not possible to “buy” software. You may acquire the ownership of the data medium, but not the one of the intellectual creation “software”. The use thereof requires a license granting you limited or unlimited user rights.

The License Contract

A contract on copyright subjects grants the beneficiary thereof either exclusive or non-exclusive rights. The terms of the contract define the sort and the range of these rights. If applicable, the license holder’s obligations are stipulated as well as possible contract penalties in case of noncompliance and similar. The consent of both contract parties is required without fault. End customers intenting to acquire software through a license contract with Microsoft will find all essential contract information in the End User License Agreement (EULA).

This agreement explains to which extent you may use the software. Frequently it also contains an additional unsolicited producer’s guarantee and some information about various constrictions regarding the utilisation of the software. You will find all relevant stipulations in the respective contract documents as well as in the description of the exploitation rights.

The Right to Downgrade

The right to downgrade – available by default in all volume licensing agreement – enables you to acquire a license of the current software product and to use a previous version thereof, i.e. you may use preceding versions of the software in question on the basis of the Right to Downgrade.

The Re-Imaging Right

The Re-Imaging Right allows you to set up several devices by means of a single standard image. Re-Imaging signifies the production and distribution of an image by using volume license media. The goal thereof is to develop the image of a standard configuration and to put it to use througout the company. The Re-Imaging Right is a component of volume license agreements.

The multi-language regulation by Microsoft

The use of a different language version of a product licensed through a volume license agreement is regulated by the exploitation rights referring to the licensed version.

The Exploitation Rights

The Microsoft Exploitation Rights include the regulations regarding the utilisation of Microsoft products covered by the volume license programs. You will find here all rights and constrictions referring to the use of the software that you acquired through a volume license agreement. The exploitation rights of all software products available in the frame of volume license contracts are listed here.

The End User License Agreement (EULA)

The End User License Agreement corresponds largely to the legal dispositions concerning the copyright and specifies on top of that the exploitation rights regarding the software in question and various related restrictions as well as the paragraph “license concession” regulating the exploitation of the software. Furthermore, it stipulates the constrictions regarding reverse engineering, leasing and lending of the software as well as other restrictions depending on the particular product. Additionally the EULA describes the conditions referring to the generating of back-up and archival copies and, if applicable, explains the unsolicited producer’s guarantee to which the end customer is entitled besides implied warranties.

The Microsoft Product Terms Document

The Microsoft Volume Licensing Product Terms document is part of your Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement. It is the successor document to the Product Use Rights and the Product List (both retired June 2015). When you need to know how to license a particular product or the specifics of what you can do with that product under the terms of your license agreement, the Product Terms generally has the information you need. The Product Terms details the product availability by Volume Licensing program as well as the terms and conditions for the deployment and use of software.

The Microsoft Product Activation

The Microsoft Product Activation represents an important step against unauthorized copying and misuse of software products. This procedure is meant to protect honest users against the use of non-original software. Only legally acquired software entitles the customers to significant benefits as f.i. support or upgrade offers.
In practice the Product Activation prevents the set up and initiation of software products on any given number of computers with one unique product key. As a contractual partner of a volume license program you shall receive Volume License Product Keys for administrative and network installations without having to activate every license with Microsoft separately.

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