Original software code falls under the rubric of copyrighted intellectual property. In general, the copyright owner of software has the exclusive right to reproduce (copy) the software, prepare derivative works, distribute copies by sale or otherwise.
At Stanford, software distribution and licensing can be handled in many ways, and very much depends on input from the creators:
- Software can be put in the public domain, i.e., copyright is not claimed and anyone can use the software for any purpose and without payment;
- Copyrighted software can be licensed (including through an open source license) to the academic community with or without payment, and with or without other restrictions;
- Copyrighted software can be licensed (including through an open source license) to the commercial community with or without payment, and with or without other restrictions.
NOTE: Open source is different from public domain. Copyrighted software can be licensed under an open source license.
To be licensable under any kind of license (including an open source license), Stanford must have clear copyright ownership to all portions of the software i.e., the software must contain code written only by creators who assign copyright to Stanford. It is responsibility of Stanford creators to ensure that Stanford has rights to software created at Stanford.
Some software is subject to export control regulations.