You must have heard the word ‘Copyright’ at least a thousand times, though you may not be aware of what it exactly means. But, did you know that there also exists something known as ‘Copyleft’? Now, if you think Copyleft is just the opposite of Copyright, you are right, but there is a lot more to it. Before discussing in details what Copyleft is all about, it is important to first understand what Copyright is.
Copyright is a law used by an author to prevent the buyers of his works from reproducing, modifying or distributing the same. The one who violates the copyright law is liable for a penalty. The penalty may either be an amount to be paid to the author or imprisonment. On the other hand, under Copyleft, the author gives the users permission to reproduce, modify and further distribute his/her works.
Many of the software applications available on the public domain are Copyleft protected. But, not all free software fall under the Copyleft law. For instance, a few software tools are made available online for free. You can download one of these, modify it and convert it into proprietary software, which mean, the ones who will be using your software will not be able to modify, distribute or reproduce it further. However, that’s not the case with Copyleft software applications. You can modify it as much as you want and reproduce it a million times.
Copyleft also offers budding programmers a chance to utilize their skills in further improving free software. These programmers are usually members of communities that primarily work towards developing free alternatives for proprietary or commercial software applications.
Copyleft, like many believe, doesn’t mean abandoning the copyright law. In fact, Copyleft is actually a way of using copyright on specific software or a program thereby giving its users a complete liberty to further distribute or modify the same.