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Today, most computer programs are distributed in object code form. This distribution system is often referred to as the proprietary software model. When a consumer purchases a copy of, for example, Word software, that program comes on a CD-ROM into which the object code 1s and 0s have been encoded. One of the reasons that software developers distribute only the object code, and not the source code, is convenience. Software in object code format is ready for the computer to use.
This technique also protects the source code from disclosure. Because skilled programmers can easily read source code, a competitor could review the code to find out how a program works. As a result, if software were distributed in source code form, rival firms could readily take and reuse parts of the [[program] in competing products. While this appropriation of the original programmer's work might violate intellectual property laws, such violations could be difficult both to discover and stop. Distributing software in object code form is a more cost-efficient and effective means of preventing this infringement.
Some computer users have expressed dissatisfaction with the proprietary software model. End users of proprietary software must ordinarily rely upon the software publisher to fix mistakes in the code and develop additional features.
- ↑ See Patrick K. Bobko, "Linux and General Public Licenses: Can Copyright Keep `Open Source' Software Free?," 28 Am. Intel. Prop. L. Ass'n Qtrly. J. 81 (2000).