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I am using the demo of a program called EC-Lab (electro-chemistry software platform). They have a Demo version available on the web and inside the program they include sample files. They is no license agreement accepted during the installation process.

I have tried to find any licensing description once installed, but there is no info inside the program or in the Program Files(x86) folder.

They do not reply and probably won't really know whether those are free to use or not. What would be a way to find this out? Would normally just test files be considered non-proprietary?

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    In what way would you be “using” the sample files? Would you be distributing them to people? Would you be making other things based on them, and distributing those things to people?
    – Sneftel
    Oct 21, 2022 at 11:12
  • I didn’t ask about profit. In what way would you be “using” the sample files? Would you be distributing them to people? Would you be making other things based on them, and distributing those things to people?
    – Sneftel
    Oct 21, 2022 at 11:35
  • If there is no license, then plain copyright law applies, and plain copyright law won't allow you to copy these files. If they don't reply, then you have no permission.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 21, 2022 at 11:38
  • @Jen yes I got a bit confused as Im new to this. The files are a binary format created by the company.
    – Mah Neh
    Oct 21, 2022 at 11:43

3 Answers 3

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One cannot use the works of others unless one of the following applies:

  • The copyright holder has given permission, usually in the form of a license, often explicit, but sometimes implied.
  • The work is not protected by copyright. This can happen in several ways, but the most common is that the work is old enough that copyright has expired. In the US, works older than 1927 are currently out of copyright. So are some others, the rules are a bit complex. In many countries, if the author or creator died more than 70 years ago, the work is out of copyright. In some countries this is a different number, between 50 and 100 years. This is not likely to apply to a file distributed with current software.
  • If an exception to copyright applies. In the US this would most likely be fair use. In the UK it would probably be fair dealing. In other countries there are a variety of exceptions that might apply, including personal use in some.

AS a comment by Jen points out "use" here refers only to those rights protected by copyright, such as making and distributing copied, making nd distributing derivative works, and the like. (Displaying and publicly performing seem unlikely to apply.)

Now lets consider the specific situation, and which if any of the reasons for lawful use might apply.

  • License or other permission. There is no explicit license. Since the program is distributed to be run, there is an implicit license to make the sort of use of the file needed to run the program. If the documentation describes how to employ the file as part of running the program, there is almost surely an implied license to employ it in that way. There is not, however, permission to make copies unless that is needed to run the program. There is surely not permission to make derivative works of the file or distribute copies to others, even if you do not charge anything.
  • Expired copyright This pretty clearly will not apply.
  • Fair use This might apply, or might not. There isn't enough info in the question to tell, not even to make a good guess. If any use would be non commercial, that helps fair use a bit. If the use would be for a different purpose than the one the developers used it for, that helps fair use a lot. If the use of the file harmed the market for the program, or served as a substitute, that lean against fair use. without knowing what the file is, what it does, and how it might be used, one really cannot weven guess.
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  • "In the US rgsa would most likely be fair use" - What does rgsa mean in this context?
    – Brandin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:48
  • @Brandin That was a typo for "this" now corrected. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. Dec 1, 2022 at 15:28
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No

The default for copyright is you do not have any permission. The absence of a license suggests that you can use their demo software (since this is implicit in making it available) but nothing else.

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To answer just the title of your question: You either need to find that your usage of the file is an exception to copyright law that is allowed, or you need to find someone who has the legal right to give you a license, for example the copyright holder or a representative, and convince them to give you a license that allows your use and that you could use as evidence in court. If you can't find anyone willing to give you a license, tough.

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