I was wondering about the prevalence of "for business" and "for personal" use software licenses and how enforcible they are (specifically in the UK and EU but in other English speaking jurisdictions too).

StackOverflow sounds like the wrong place. Law is for law professionals and Students not Joe public. SuperUser is about using software and a license relates to that use so it is my best guess.


Prevalence of a type of licence would be off topic (as it is more about company choices) and potentially too broad as it is not the kind of information that is readily available to anyone. You would have to ask every company what kind of licences they support, how many of each they supply and so on. It is a long term research question.

How enforceable they are would be a law question and depend on jurisdiction. It is not something that can be assessed in the context of "a problem with computer hardware or software".

Whether you are allowed to do something by the licence could be on topic, but it might be qualified that jurisdictional matters might take precedence or otherwise void the licence.

  • Thank you for answering all the facets of my question. It is what the license allows or forbids that I was most interested in which seems to be a law question more than something for this exchange. – TafT Jun 11 '19 at 7:32
  • @TafT "Does the licence restrict me from doing x, given that it states y" could well be on topic as it is specific to the software. It is effectively "am I allowed to do this but still receive support from my supplier?" Whether local laws override or otherwise nullify the licence or parts of it would be off topic. – Mokubai Jun 11 '19 at 8:27
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    I'm surprised by the last paragraph and comment. I would have thought interpreting what's allowed by a license would be off-topic. I thought we make exceptions for certain cases, like Windows and open-source, because we have plenty of users who regularly deal with that, or even manage site-level licensing of some of the common applications, so it's available knowledge. But interpreting the license wording on a random application is more of a legal or contract terms issue rather than a technical one. (cont'd) – fixer1234 Jun 11 '19 at 21:38
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    It seems like the type of thing that would invite guessing and opinions more than fact. Do we really want people relying on advice from random users here, rather than asking the company directly about their wording and how they interpret it? – fixer1234 Jun 11 '19 at 21:38
  • I agree with @fixer1234: Either the license states what is and is not allowed or it doesn't. Either the license is published and available or it isn't. This makes such question "Product or learning material recommendation" questions where we're being asked to find something that is already available. Beyond that is simply interpretation, which is very much opinion and further off-topic. Whatever bucket it falls into, the best place to ask these questions is of the entity that issues or enforces the license: They have the information and the responsibility. – music2myear Jun 12 '19 at 18:23
  • @fixer1234 I am less concerned by what a company intends for the license to mean and more focused on what a company is allowed to restrict. I am not certain you can legally split "commercial" and "personal" in all jurisdictions. Specifically I would care about the UK / EU but it is a wider thing. That is a legal question but one that applies primarily to users of software who tick the accept boxes. – TafT Jun 13 '19 at 7:55

Beyond what Mokubai says in the first portions of their answer, and disagreeing with the last portion:

There are two buckets questions about licenses typically fall into:

  1. The "what does the license say" bucket: Either the license states what is allowed or it doesn't. Either there are laws that offer further definition or they don't. Either the licenses and laws are published and available or they are not. Questions like this are off topic because they are essentially asking SU to get the requestor a copy of the license.

  2. The "how do you interpret the license" bucket: This goes beyond asking for the plain words or basic concepts of the license and asks SU to opine on its contents. These questions are opinion-based and also off-topic.

The correct place to ask any questions about licenses and their application are the people who issue the licenses and the people who enforce them, or their delegates. SuperUser is not a delegate of any licensing entity.

  • Mine is the non-typical question then. "What can a license legally dictate". I am pretty sure I cannot be required to commit an illegal act by a license and in fact, some circumstances may void all of a license if part of it is non-enforcible. The more I think about this the more I suspect it is an EU / UK Law topic that just happens to be of interest to people that may be on SuperUser installing things. – TafT Jun 13 '19 at 7:58
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    There's a difference between the information being interesting and it being the right place to ask. That question is a legal question, and dispensing legal advice is not something that can be done just anywhere. – music2myear Jun 13 '19 at 16:24

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