WHAT IS A LICENSE?

There are licenses behind much of what we accomplish or use each day.  Mobile phones, social media platforms, and streaming media services all come with license agreements.  While the documents may be wordy, their concept is simple: a license is permission to do something we normally would not be allowed to do.  For example, licenses allow us to legally drive a car, go fishing, practice law, or use proprietary software.  License is an old word and an old concept.  It derives from the Latin licentia, which means freedom or licentiousness.

In the context of intellectual property, a license is permission to use someone else’s creation, such as an invention or music.  A license agreement may specify a limited duration, allowed uses, and a required fee.  In addition, a license may be exclusive or non-exclusive.

Leases go further, as they allow lessees to reap benefits of someone else’s property.  For example, leases may allow drilling for resources beneath the surface of the Earth or developing the sky overhead.

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