First, let's consider what Shareware is not. Shareware is not "free" or "public domain" software, it is a type of distribution method designed to lower costs for everyone involved. Any fee that you may have paid to obtain this or any Shareware program from a disk vendor, computer bulletin board service, user group, or retailer was to cover their cost of getting the program to you. Shareware is paid for by registering with the author.
Shareware distribution gives users a chance to try software before buying it. If you try a Shareware program and continue using it, you are expected to register. Individual programs differ on details -- some request registration while others require it; some specify a maximum trial period. With registration, you get anything from the simple right to continue using the software to an updated program with printed manual.
Copyright laws apply to both Shareware and commercial software, and the copyright holder retains all rights, with a few specific exceptions as stated below. Shareware authors are accomplished programmers, just like commercial authors, and the programs are of comparable quality (in both cases there are good programs and bad ones!). The main difference is in the method of distribution. The author specifically grants the right to copy and distribute the software, either to all and sundry or to a specific group. For example, some authors require written permission before a commercial disk vendor may copy their Shareware.
Again, Shareware is a distribution method, not a type of software. You should
find software that suits your needs and pocketbook, whether it is commercial
or Shareware. The Shareware system makes fitting your needs easier, because
you can try the software before you buy. And because the overhead is
low, prices are low also. Shareware has the ultimate money-back guarantee: if
you don't use the product, you don't pay for it. Without product registrations,
however, programmers receive no compensation for their work and thereby are
not encouraged to continue developing software. They have trusted you by providing
a full-featured product, and they expect you to reciprocate that trust.
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