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? 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 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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    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. Dec 25 '12 at 16:15
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    Is there some reason you can't ask your employer or do you prefer getting forgiveness over permission?
    – user8365
    Dec 26 '12 at 18:34

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
  • @alroc - Unless you can back up your claim that it would not be a criminal offense I suggest you remove the comment. That borders on giving a legal opinion which is off limits here. On top of that I am pretty sure that you are wrong. Dec 25 '12 at 0:16
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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

From JetBrains FAQ (Please see the updated link below)

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.

Update: FAQ

Can I use my personal license at work and at home?

Licensing and Purchasing FAQ > Licensing Model Overview > License Types and Users JetBrains Team Updated 04 October 2016 13:49

Yes, you can use your personal license at work as well as at home. You can use it working on your personal projects as well as projects of your company. Our EULAs do not restrict this.

So, Jetbrains does not prohibit you from installing IntelliJ on multiple devices. The 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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    Doesn't answer the question, which is whether the company allows it. And without knowing the company's policies, that's impossible to answer. Yes, Jetbrains has no problem with it as long as nobody except the license holder is able of using the computer, but that's only half the answer here.
    – jwenting
    Jan 2 '14 at 5:15
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    In that sense, basically no one answered the question. Atleast in this answer I made it clear that he can install his personal license IntelliJ on his work computer if the company allows it.
    – WarFox
    Jan 2 '14 at 7:34
  • @WarFox URL that you have provided is not available anymore. I've same question. Can I use my personal license on laptop owned by company? Is that legal from jetbrains perspective?
    – svlada
    Oct 29 '16 at 10:15
  • @svlada thanks. I've updated new link. According to Jetbrains, you are free to use the license on any machine. I use my license on my linux, mac and company laptop, but not concurrently. Please consult your company policies, if there is any restriction set by your company.
    – WarFox
    Oct 29 '16 at 19:56

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. (And if you install pirated software on a company-owned computer, it could cause serious problems for your employer.)

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'm issued 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.) (Thinking about it later, for free software there's generally no doubt that you have the author's permission to use it; for purchased software, your employer could have legitimate concerns about whether it's legitimate.)

  • In conjunction with my answer, maybe "free" software doesn't feel so much like software as much as it does a website you download -- i.e. it's trivial to get your hands on, so you don't even think about it. Dec 25 '12 at 21:43

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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    If the company gives you permission to install software on the laptop, and it doesn't cause any licensing problems, I can't think of any reason not to go ahead and install it. Just keep the installation media. Dec 26 '12 at 16:30
  • I admit this is a very YMMV question, but I know some software (like Adobe Creative Suite!) is very much "One License, One Computer" -- why risk it when you don't have to? Dec 27 '12 at 16:06
  • You could probably install Adobe Creative Suite on a work computer if you don't also install it on a personal computer. I'd discuss it with my employer to ensure that (a) it's ok to install it, and (b) they understand that it's licensed to me, and they'll remove it when I turn in the laptop. If I could persuade my employer to buy a license for Adobe Creative Suite, that would be even better. I don't suggest risking anything. Dec 27 '12 at 16:22

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