Free Software, Freeware, & Shareware (2022 Only)

Free Software, Freeware, & Shareware (2022 Only)

In addition to standard software licenses, there are several ways in which software can be shared without payment legally. Often, these come under 3 different types of licence which are sometimes also covered under Creative Commons.

Free Software


Free software allows the creator to share their work with others for free whilst retaining Copyright of their work (also known as intellectual property). although the software may be free to download, it is often covered by a Creative Commons license that requires the user to agree not to share the software or modify it in any way. This is not always the case and there are different types of Creative Commons license available.

Lesson Activity:

Visit this website and create a list of all the different types of Creative Commons license. Create a document that shows the icons used for each of them and annotate these icons explaining watch the user may or may not do with that particular type of free software.

Some free software is also the entire product and may be created as an open-source product. Open-source software is a particular type of software whether the user is able to see and modify the code. Open-source software is often created collaboratively between many different developers which makes it difficult to charge for the software itself, although sometimes donations may be given to help with hosting costs.  


Freeware is different to free software in that it is often a smaller demonstration of the software with more complex features removed or hidden. Wen freeware is offered on a mobile device, this is sometimes referred to as a light version.

Freeware is a particularly useful tool for developers to show potential users what that software is like and encourage them to purchase or subscribe to the full version.

Another type of freeware is often seen on mobile devices where the software itself is free to install but there are additional purchases available within the app, such as additional digital items or the ability to unlock features.


shared folder

Shareware is similar to free software but uses a particular type of Creative Commons license that allows the user to not only download the software for free but also to share a copy with others. For digital products, this is often used as a marketing tool so that more users become familiar with the developer’s company, or as part of an open-source product such as Linux.