Public domain software
Public domain software definition
Public domain software refers to any software not owned by a person or company, thus it is not subject to copyright laws. Anyone is free to use or modify this type of software to their needs. While users do not have to pay fees or royalties, some public domain software requires attribution.
How software enters the public domain
- The creator(s) releases it to the public.
- The software copyright expires.
- Software has been developed by the government.
- The software was never copyrighted.
The benefits of public domain software
- Accessibility. Anyone can use public domain software for free.
- Educational value. Educators can freely use public domain software in their classes.
- Innovation. Developers can modify, improve, and build upon existing public domain software.
- Open-source. Since most public domain software is open source, the code is inspected by researchers and developers.
- Collaboration. People from all over the world can collaborate on improving public domain software.
- Feedback. Since it’s free, public domain software tends to have a large user base offering support and feedback on how to improve it.
Examples of public domain software:
- Linux, one of the most popular operating systems in the world.
- Peertube, a peer-to-peer based video platform.
- Mastodon, a social media client.