AI Review for Software Licensing Agreements

Learn how integrating AI contract review into your Software Licensing Agreements can improve your contract negotiation, ensuring clarity, precision, and mutual understanding.

What is a Software Licensing Agreement?

A Software Licensing Agreement (SLC) is a legal contract between the owner of a software program (the licensor) and a user of that software (the licensee). The agreement outlines the terms and conditions under which the licensee can use the software, including the scope of use, restrictions, intellectual property rights, warranties, disclaimers, indemnification, and termination provisions.

Software Licensing Agreements are crucial in the realm of corporate law, particularly for dealings with intellectual property (IP) rights in the software industry. They are used across a vast range of industries, but are most common in technology and IT services, telecommunications, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, and retail.

Why Use a Software Licensing Agreement?

There are several key reasons why businesses should use Software Licensing Agreements:

  1. Protection of intellectual property: The foundation of a Software Licensing Agreement rests on the protection of the licensor's IP. The agreement ensures that the licensee's right to use the software is clearly expressed, detailing the extent and boundaries of this usage without transferring ownership rights to the software. This is essential for safeguarding the licensor's proprietary software and preventing unauthorized use or distribution.
  2. Defining terms and conditions of use: Along with the protection of IP, the agreement stipulates specific terms and conditions that govern the use of the software. These may range from rules on redistribution and modification to outlining the number of users or installations permitted. By clearly defining these terms, the agreement helps to prevent misunderstandings and disputes over how the software can be used.
  3. Risk management: Software Licensing Agreements are instrumental in managing the risks associated with the software's use and performance. By defining responsibilities, obligations, warranties, and disclaimers, these agreements mitigate potential risks. They also often include indemnification provisions to shield the licensee from any claims of third-party infringement.
  4. Termination provisions: These agreements provide a clear pathway for contract termination. They establish the conditions that would allow for termination, providing an exit strategy for both parties in the event of a breach or if the agreement isn't serving its intended purpose. This is important for ensuring that both parties have a way to end the agreement if necessary, while also outlining the consequences of a breach.
  5. Legal compliance: An often overlooked but significant aspect of Software Licensing Agreements is their role in ensuring legal compliance. The usage of software often intersects with various laws and regulations, including those relating to data protection and privacy, export control, and others. Licensing agreements can ensure that software use remains within these legal bounds, helping to protect both the licensor and licensee from legal issues.

What Should Be Included in a Software Licensing Agreement?

The top provisions to consider in a Software Licensing Agreement are:

  1. Scope of License and Restrictions on Use: The scope and restrictions are essentially the heart of the agreement, outlining what the licensee is allowed, and not allowed, to do with the software. The scope can include details such as whether the software can be used worldwide or only in specific regions, and whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive. This is important because it sets boundaries on how the software can be used.
  2. Intellectual Property Rights: This section usually declares that the licensor retains ownership of the software and all associated IP rights. It's important because it clarifies that the license agreement is only providing the right to use the software, not ownership of it. Infringement on these rights can lead to legal consequences.
  3. Warranties and Disclaimers: This part of the agreement details what promises the licensor is making about the software, such as its functionality or lack of defects. Disclaimers are used to limit these promises and protect the licensor from legal action if the software doesn't perform as expected. They're important because they define the expectations and responsibilities of each party.
  4. Indemnification: Indemnity clauses provide protection for the licensee in the event that the software infringes on someone else's intellectual property rights. This means the licensor will take responsibility for defending any legal claims and covering associated costs. This is significant because it transfers the risk of infringement claims from the licensee to the licensor.
  5. Termination: This section sets out the conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement, such as breach of contract or non-payment. It may also specify what happens upon termination, like whether the licensee must delete or return the software. This is key because it gives both parties a clear exit strategy if the agreement isn't working out, while also laying out the consequences of a breach.

In addition to these top provisions, a comprehensive Software Licensing Agreement should also include:

  1. License Fees and Payment Terms: Specify the cost of the license, the payment schedule, and any provisions for late payments or non-payment.
  2. Support and Maintenance: Outline the level of support and maintenance the licensor will provide, including any updates, upgrades, or bug fixes.
  3. Confidentiality: Include provisions to protect any confidential information shared between the parties during the course of the agreement.
  4. Limitation of Liability: This clause limits the licensor's liability in the event of any damages arising from the use of the software. It often caps the monetary amount of damages and excludes certain types of damages, such as consequential or incidental damages.
  5. Governing Law and Jurisdiction: Specify which jurisdiction's laws will govern the agreement and where any legal disputes will be resolved.

Checklist for a Good Software Licensing Agreement

To ensure that your Software Licensing Agreement is effective, comprehensive, and legally sound, use this checklist:

  •  Define the scope of the license and any restrictions on use
  •  Specify the licensor's intellectual property rights
  •  Include warranties and disclaimers
  •  Address indemnification for third-party infringement claims
  •  Outline termination conditions and consequences
  •  Specify license fees and payment terms
  •  Define support and maintenance obligations
  •  Include confidentiality provisions
  •  Limit the licensor's liability
  •  Specify the governing law and jurisdiction
  •  Ensure the agreement is reviewed and approved by legal counsel
  •  Obtain signatures from authorized representatives of both parties
  •  Securely store executed copies of the agreement

AI Contract Review for Software Licensing Agreements

To give you a sense for the benefits of leveraging contract ai software trained by lawyers, we’ve selected some sample language our software presents to customers during a review. Keep in mind that these are static in this overview, but dynamic in our software - meaning our AI identifies the key issues and proactively surfaces alerts based on importance level and position (company, 3rd party, or neutral) and provides suggested revisions that mimic the style of the contract and align with party names and defined terms.

These samples represent less than 5% of the pre-built, pre-trained Legal AI Contract Review solution for Software Licensing Agreements. If you’d like to see more, we invite you to book a demo.


For: Licensor

Alert: May be missing an article granting a license to the software.

Guidance: To ensure a comprehensive and legally sound Software License Agreement, it is vital to incorporate an article that grants a license to use the software. This article should delineate the scope, terms, and conditions under which the licensee is allowed to use the software, thus establishing the legal rights and obligations of both the licensor and licensee.

A well-defined grant of license is crucial to prevent potential disputes and legal issues between the licensor and licensee. For example, when a software company licenses its software to a business for operational purposes, the Software License Agreement should explicitly specify the permitted uses, restrictions, and duration of the license.

Relevant laws to consider in this context include copyright laws, such as the United States Copyright Act, which governs the rights of copyright holders and the licensing of copyrighted works. State contract laws may also play a role in determining the enforceability and interpretation of the Software License Agreement.

Sample Language:


During the term of this Agreement, LICENSOR grants LICENSEE a non-exclusive, non-assignable, non-sublicensable, revocable license in the territory designated by LICENSOR to access and use the Software solely for LICENSEE's internal business purposes.


For: Licensor

Alert: May be missing an article specifying license restrictions.

Guidance: It is essential for parties to establish well-defined and specific license restrictions. This approach ensures that both parties comprehend their rights and obligations, thus preventing potential disputes or misunderstandings.

In practice, this suggestion is particularly effective when a company licenses a software application for internal use. By outlining restrictions, such as prohibiting reverse engineering, sublicensing, or unauthorized distribution, the software owner can safeguard their intellectual property, and the licensee can avoid unintentional violations of the agreement.

Relevant statutes or laws to consider include the Copyright Act, which governs intellectual property rights protection, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which addresses circumventing copyright protection measures. State-specific contract laws may also be relevant in determining the enforceability and interpretation of the Software License Agreement.

An important exception or doctrine to consider in the context of Software License Agreements is the doctrine of fair use. This doctrine allows for limited use of copyrighted works without permission under certain circumstances, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. However, the application of the fair use doctrine in software licensing cases can be complex and fact-specific, making it essential to consult with legal counsel to determine whether a particular use of the software falls within the scope of fair use.

Sample Language:


LICENSEE receives no rights to the Software other than those specifically granted under this Agreement. Except as expressly permitted in this Agreement, LICENSEE shall not:

1.        Reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software, or otherwise attempt to derive any part of the Software’s source code or underlying functionality;

2.        Reproduce all or any part of the Software;

3.        Use the Software in any manner or for any purpose that infringes or misappropriates any intellectual property rights of any third party, or violates any applicable law; and

4.        Use the Software for the purposes of:

   (i)        comparative or competitive analysis of the Software;

   (ii)       developing or providing a competing software product or service; or

   (iii)      harming or causing commercial disadvantage to LICENSOR


For: Licensee

Alert: May be missing a provision that provides remedies for critical errors in the software.

Guidance: It is essential to incorporate a provision that details the remedies accessible to the licensee in case of critical software errors. This inclusion ensures that both parties understand their rights and obligations, safeguarding their interests and helping to prevent potential disputes and misunderstandings.

For example, if a company licenses software for its operations and encounters a critical error leading to significant downtime and financial losses, a well-defined provision in the agreement enables the company to seek compensation or other remedies from the software provider. In response, the software provider can address the issue and limit its liability according to the agreed-upon terms.

To guarantee compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, it is crucial to consider state-specific contract laws, consumer protection laws, and any industry-specific regulations that may apply to the software in question.

Additionally, it is vital to recognize the impact of ""disclaimer of warranties"" and ""limitation of liability"" clauses commonly found in Software License Agreements. These clauses permit licensors to disclaim certain warranties, such as the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and limit their liability for damages resulting from the software's use. This can significantly affect the remedies available to the licensee in the event of critical software errors.

Sample Language:


1. Remedy for Infringement. If the Software is the subject of a third-party claim of infringement or misappropriation, or in LICENSEE’s reasonable opinion is likely to be subject to such a claim, LICENSOR shall, at its expense and option, either (a) procure the right for LICENSEE to continue using the Software, or (b) replace or modify the Software so it is non-infringing. If after a reasonable number of attempts by LICENSOR neither of the foregoing remedies is possible, LICENSEE may terminate this Agreement and LICENSOR shall refund to LICENSEE the License Fees paid for the use of the Software less a reasonable amount for LICENSEE’s use of the Software up to the date of its return to LICENSOR or destruction.

2. Remedy for Nonconformance. If LICENSOR cannot correct a nonconformity after [●●] [business/calendar] days from the date it receives notice from LICENSEE detailing how the Software does not perform as warranted, then LICENSEE shall have the right (exercisable in LICENSEE’s sole discretion), to require LICENSOR to: (a) replace the nonconforming Software (provided, however, that the replacement is functionally equivalent) at no cost to LICENSEE; or (b) terminate this Agreement and promptly refund to LICENSEE all license fees paid under this Agreement. 

3. Remedy for Critical Error. If LICENSEE determines, in its sole discretion, that there is any error in the Software, whether or not known to LICENSEE, that has or may have an adverse impact on its operations as a result of using the Software in accordance with the Documentation, or services provided by LICENSOR (a “Critical Error”), LICENSOR shall immediately investigate such Critical Error and will deliver to LICENSEE either a patch or workaround or code to correct such Critical Error, including the Documentation for such correction, at no additional cost to LICENSEE within [●●] [business/calendar] days after receipt of such notice.  If LICENSOR fails to eliminate the Critical Error within [●●] [business/calendar] days after receipt of such notice, LICENSEE shall have the right to exercise the remedy for non-conformity, above. In the event any harmful or malicious code is found in the Software, LICENSOR will also immediately provide all necessary assistance in the handling of such code, including, but not limited to remediation, at no additional cost to LICENSEE.

Best Practices for Using Software Licensing Agreements

To make the most of your Software Licensing Agreements and ensure their effectiveness, follow these best practices:

  1. Be specific and detailed: Clearly define the scope of the license, the restrictions on use, the intellectual property rights, and all other key terms. The more specific and detailed your agreement is, the less room there is for misinterpretation or disputes.
  2. Tailor the agreement to the software: While templates can be a helpful starting point, it's essential to customize your Software Licensing Agreement to fit the unique characteristics of your software. Consider the functionality, the intended use, and any technical specifications that may impact the terms of the license.
  3. Negotiate fairly: Approach the agreement as a collaborative effort, seeking to balance the needs and interests of both the licensor and licensee. Be open to negotiation and willing to compromise where appropriate to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  4. Regularly review and update: As your software evolves and your business needs change, your Software Licensing Agreement may need to be updated. Regularly review your agreements to ensure they remain relevant, effective, and in line with current industry standards and legal requirements.
  5. Educate your team: Ensure that all relevant employees, including sales, marketing, and technical staff, are familiar with the terms and conditions of your Software Licensing Agreements. Provide training on how to communicate the key provisions to potential licensees and how to handle any questions or concerns that may arise.
  6. Keep accurate records: Maintain detailed records of all Software Licensing Agreements, including the specific software licensed, the licensee, the term of the agreement, and any special provisions. This will help you keep track of your licensing relationships and ensure compliance with the terms of each agreement.


Software Licensing Agreements are essential for protecting intellectual property rights, defining the terms and conditions of software use, managing risks, ensuring legal compliance, and providing a framework for the licensor-licensee relationship. By including key provisions such as the scope of the license, restrictions on use, intellectual property rights, warranties and disclaimers, indemnification, termination, fees and payment terms, support and maintenance, confidentiality, limitation of liability, and governing law, these agreements create a strong foundation for the successful licensing and use of software.

To ensure the effectiveness of your Software Licensing Agreements, it's important to be specific and detailed, tailor the agreement to the software, negotiate fairly, regularly review and update, educate your team, and keep accurate records.

By investing time and effort into crafting comprehensive and balanced Software Licensing Agreements, businesses can protect their valuable software assets, mitigate risks, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with their licensees.

Our guides are for informational purposes only. Such information is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or an up-to-date representation of LegalOn's legal content. Nor is the information tailored to the unique needs or objectives that accompany each transaction. For legal advice for a specific problem, you should consult an attorney licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction for each transaction.

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