A proprietary database is a database that is privately owned and password protected. It is usually unavailable to the general public, and a person who wishes to access its contents must first purchase rights from its owners. Even when a user gains access, it usually come with strict conditions and restrictions. For example, users may lack the ability to copy, modify, share or redistribute the material.
The source code for a proprietary database is not made available even when a user purchases rights to access it. This makes it practically impossible for a user to go against the stipulations of the database developer. One advantage is that these databases are more responsible to the users than commercial databases. Data stored in a proprietary database may be protected under the laws of copyright, by contract law, under patents or as trade secrets.
The logic behind maintaining a proprietary database is to safeguard the competitive edge of the information that it bears. It comes with end user license agreements that are not negotiable. Users agree to the regulations when they open the box that the software comes in. Alternatively, they can do so interactively or in writing. Examples of proprietary software are Microsoft Windows, iTunes and Real Player. As another safeguard, some software can only be installed on one computer.