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I have changed jobs recently. I am a software developer and I very much love Intellij IDEA, which I think is the best IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Java. I have a personal license for the latest release of Intellij. My company uses Eclipse, which is also nice, but I like Intellij more. So while doing company development work I will use Eclipse as everyone on the team is using it. But I also want to practice new stuff for which I would like to use Intellij. Is it acceptable to install personally purchased licensed software on a company provided laptop?

P.S: I work for a very large multinational company which is definitely among the top 5 software companies. I am putting this info here because the policies in startups and giant software companies are quite different.

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Why can't you practice new stuff on your personal computer? –  Jeanne Boyarsky Dec 23 '12 at 16:16
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your best bet would be to talk to the IT department and see what they say –  ratchet freak Dec 23 '12 at 16:41
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Not sure ethics come into play at all in this scenario. It's really more about IT rules. –  DA. Dec 23 '12 at 18:47
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I have removed ethics from the question as I think it is a much stronger question with out it. If this question is no longer what you were wanting to know then you can roll back. Though I think in that can you should clarify why the ethics are important. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Dec 25 '12 at 12:53
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Large multinational companies tend to have conservative IT policies. Newer versions of IntelliJ were rejected by my employer due to some change in the license agreement, for example. (Not sure what exactly, but everything gets reviewed.) IT departments can be concerned about malware, sloppiness (e.g. your application does something annoying on the network), foreign vendors, license terms, or all sorts of things. I'm not defending them, just listing rejection reasons I've encountered. :-( Anyway, the only way you'll know is to investigate your company's IT restrictions. –  Monica Cellio Dec 25 '12 at 16:15

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

It might be actually be illegal!

If the licence you have when purchasing the software was for personal and not commercial use, then these can have very different price points - a lot of software is free for personal use but charged for business.

I would check the licence agreement very carefully first, and make sure you can use it commercially. If not, then don't install it as the company would be liable.

A second pitfall will be the company's policy on software installation; this can vary hugely and could be a potential issue if you install software that is incompatible, you don't keep up-to-date or has security weaknesses.

A third issue is if you are using the software for personal projects on a company laptop; depending on your employment agreement they may well own all of the intellectual property associated with that development work. This can be the case even if they don't use your ideas. For a non-software example of this, the Bratz case is interesting.

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It wouldn't be illegal (criminal), but it could be a breach of contract (the EULA), which would be a civil matter. –  alroc Dec 23 '12 at 13:56
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@alroc - I understood that this could also be a breach of local copyright laws, as breach of the EULA would mean the installation (copy) is unauthorised. –  GuyM Dec 23 '12 at 19:05
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@alroc - The criminal aspect of this relates to the breach of copyright laws, not the breach of contract. For example, if the company was audited, the software would probably be seen as an unauthorised copy. –  GuyM Dec 26 '12 at 19:09

Your employer owns the laptop (unless they gave it to you), and therefore gets to decide what you can do with it. Obviously you can use it for its intended purpose, namely doing your job and installing whatever software your employer provides for that purpose.

Anything else (accessing non-work e-mail, web surfing, installing other software) may or may not be permitted; it's up to your employer to decide.

And on top of all that, as GuyM's answer says, you need to worry about the licensing terms for whatever software you install; that's an issue between you and the provider of the software.

Personally, I've installed plenty of free software on company-issued computers, when it seemed reasonable to assume that that would be ok. For example, if I have a Windows laptop, I'll install Cygwin immediately.

If I wanted to install personally purchased licensed software, I'd simply ask, and if the answer were no, I'd respect that (though I might grumble a bit).

(I'm not sure I can articulate why free vs. purchased makes a difference; perhaps it shouldn't.)

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I wouldn't -- company-owned property means they can do whatever they like with it (and it can be confiscated / kept for evidence in an investigation / traded out at any point)!

If the company gave you the laptop, that'd be one thing, but if you don't get to keep it after you're (theoretically) fired, I wouldn't put anything on it you can't live without. If nothing else, you're setting yourself up for a world of pain should your device suddenly cease to be yours.

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From JetBrains FAQ

Can I run my license on multiple computers, on my home machine and at work?
31 October 2013 17:53 JetBrains Sales FAQ > General

You can install the software on as many machines as you like, but you can use it only on one of them concurrently. This means you need as many licenses as the maximum number of concurrent usages will be – so for X number of users, you will need X licenses.

So, Jetbrains does not prohibit you from installing IntelliJ on multiple devices. Only restriction is on the concurrent use of it. However in your particular case, as others have recommended, it is better to consult your IT department regarding company policies about software installation in provided laptops.

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