Proprietary Software

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What Does Proprietary Software Mean?

Proprietary software is any software that is copyrighted and bears limits against use, distribution and modification that are imposed by its publisher, vendor or developer. Proprietary software remains the property of its owner/creator and is used by end-users/organizations under predefined conditions.

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Proprietary software may also be called closed-source software or commercial software.

Techopedia Explains Proprietary Software

Proprietary software is primarily commercial software that can be bought, leased or licensed from its vendor/developer. In general, proprietary software doesn’t provide end users or subscribers with access to its source code. It can be purchased or licensed for a fee, but relicensing, distribution or copying is prohibited. Most software is proprietary software and is produced by an independent software vendor (ISV). The restrictions or conditions imposed by the vendor/developer on proprietary software is elaborated within the software’s end-user license agreement (EULA), terms of service agreement (TOS) or other related use agreements. The user/organization must accept the agreement prior to installing or using the software. The software developer/vendor can take legal action against the end-user/organization for violating the EULA or TOS.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.