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Proprietary software, also known as non-free software, or closed-source software, is computer software for which the software's publisher or another person retains intellectual property rights—usually copyright of the source code,[1] but sometimes patent rights.[2][1]

Proprietary software is not synonymous with commercial software,[45][46] although the two terms are sometimes used synonymously in articles about free software.[47][48] Proprietary software can be distributed at no cost or for a fee, and free software can be distributed at no cost or for a fee.[49] The difference is that whether or not proprietary software can be distributed, and what the fee would be, is at the proprietor's discretion. With free software, anyone who has a copy can decide whether, and how much, to charge for a copy or related services.[50]

Proprietary software that comes for no cost is called freeware.

Proponents of commercial proprietary software argue that requiring users to pay for software as a product increases funding or time available for the research and development of software. For example, Microsoft says that per-copy fees maximise the profitability of sof

Proprietary software that comes for no cost is called freeware.

Proponents of commercial proprietary software argue that requiring users to pay for software as a product increases funding or time available for the research and development of software. For example, Microsoft says that per-copy fees maximise the profitability of software development.[51]

Proprietary software generally creates greater commercial activity over free software, especially in regard to market revenues.[52] Proprietary software is often sold with a license that gives the end user right to use the software.[53]

Examples of proprietary software include Microsoft Windows, Adobe Flash Player, PS3 OS, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, Google Earth, macOS (formerly Mac OS X and OS X), Skype, WinRAR, Oracle's version of Java and some versions of Unix.

Software distributions considered as proprietary may in fact incorporate a "mixed source" model including both free and non-free software in the same distribution.[54] Most if not all so-called proprietary Software distributions considered as proprietary may in fact incorporate a "mixed source" model including both free and non-free software in the same distribution.[54] Most if not all so-called proprietary UNIX distributions are mixed source software, bundling open-source components like BIND, Sendmail, X Window System, DHCP, and others along with a purely proprietary kernel and system utilities.[55][56]

Some free software packages are also simultaneously available under proprietary terms. Examples include MySQL, Sendmail and ssh. The original copyright holders for a work of free software, even copyleft free software, can use dual-licensing to allow themselves or others to redistribute proprietary versions. Non-copyleft free software (i.e. software distributed under a permissive free software license or released to the public domain) allows anyone to make proprietary redistributions.[57][58] Free software that depends on proprietary software is considered "trapped" by the Free Software Foundation. This includes software written only for Microsoft Windows,[59] or software that could only run on Java, before it became free software.[60]

In India, one and a half million laptops were pre-loaded with screen savers of political minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. The author of software developed for these laptops included a malicious feature that would "crash" the device if the laptop's owner attempted to change, remove, or modify this feature.[61]