I am junior frontend developer in Poland. I work in small company (30 people, most of them are developers).

My boss asked me recently to check new UI tools offered by another company (let's say it's ABC company). ABC offers useful controls, that can be easily used in range of products. Controls' code is open source, but it is not free. They allow their potential clients to use their products for 1 month for free - than you have to buy licence.

I asked for 1 month trial (via my company mail, with my full name and surname), and received what we needed. We are using it in few places right now.

However, yesterday the licence ended. My boss did not replied to my first mail (few days ago), where I wrote to him, that licence is going to end soon.

He is probably not willing to buy it, as we are already doing so, with our other product, where we are using another set of controls made by ABC.

Should I keep on reminding my boss, that he should buy ABC's licence?

Can I have some problems, because there is my name and surname in email, to which trial belonged to?

  • For the last point, this is more about legal problem, you'd better ask on law.SE and don't forget to include where you live and what kind of licence use the product (GPL, AGPL, custom,;..). On the workplace, the only advise we can give you is to cover yourself by having writing proof that it's your boss decision not his. If he don't answer to your mails, you may escalate (not sure to who, and it could cost you some troubles with your boss).
    – Walfrat
    Apr 13 '17 at 7:38
  • 3
    Likely duplicate of: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/6630/…
    – Lilienthal
    Apr 13 '17 at 8:07
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of How do I request new equipment for the office?
    – Erik
    Apr 13 '17 at 9:53
  • But a license is not the only option. Ask your boss if he want to buy a license or stop using the product.
    – paparazzo
    Apr 13 '17 at 12:50
  • Difficulty in getting management to use appropriately licensed software is a common problem for developers. It's a shame this has been put on hold. Apr 18 '17 at 13:29

I clearly understand your problem.

You can start with kindly but firmly reminding your boss that officially you are not allowed to use the product any longer and surely you won't be legally allowed to release your product without obtaining the licence from ABC.

Happy flow is that your boss buys the licence or appoints you to purchase one.

Sad flow - your boss will say "dobra, dobra" [all right, all right] meaning that you should carry on without a licence. It would be, (as far as I know the software agreements), breach of trial agreement.

Whether you might have problems depends on your employment form (employee or contractor). To be 100% sure you should ask a lawyer.

And yes, you should remind your boss to purchase the licence.

  • 3
    "And yes, you should remind your boss to purchase the licence." and make sure you keep doing it by mail as well! always handy to have a 'paper' trail in case like this.
    – Jeroen
    Apr 13 '17 at 7:48

Note: I am not a lawyer, and I live in the U.S.A. I draw the following from my experience as a proprietary and free software developer.

Your company must either buy the proper license or stop using the software. There is no legal alternative. Continuing to use the software without permission is a violation of copyright law.

If ABC finds out that you're still using the tool set after the trial period, they will probably first insist on just collecting the license fee. But if you boss won't pay, they ABC may bring some kind of equity (civil) suit. ABC may also file criminal charges to make their civil case stronger. This all depends on case law precedent where you live, but you can be sure that ABC can make a lot of trouble for your company.

If ABC files legal actions, you can bet that your name will be on the paperwork. If you can't prove that your boss made you do it, then you will be stuck paying off any damages.

If the prosecutor can show that you knew that copyright law was being violated and you did nothing to report it, then you will be charged as an accessory.

So, you must do more than keep on reminding your boss that he should buy ABC's license -- you must insist on it. And make sure it happens.

  • I think this is too strong, given the OP's statement "Controls' code is open source, but it is not free." We don't know the details of the situation, but in many cases, this would mean there is a paid enterprise version of the software with support, etc., but a version of the software could still be used freely under the open source license.
    – user45590
    Apr 13 '17 at 8:50
  • 1
    I have to assume Lukas knows what the terms are since he is the one who obtained the software, and Lukas describes a trial period and a required license. There's no evidence to indicate that there are two editions of the software. Lukas is not asking how to convince his boss to upgrade to the pro version, he is asking how to convince his boss to obey the law. Apr 13 '17 at 12:52

Are you sure that the license is compulsory given that the software company has failed to lock you out? If you are & you are already using a certain companies product without a license I agree that your boss will probably not care about adding more unlicensed software into the mix.

I would suggest emailing him to say that the software needs licensing & printing out your emails on the subject for later reference.

If you get no response then cancel the license under your name & don't agree to license software under your name again. This gives you three options:

  • Do your job without using the software
  • Get your boss to register for the software & giving you his explicit permission to use the software
  • Get another job

The middle option is unethical but you may already be in that position. Liability is tricky as many countries will have contradictory case law precedents in the area, so it is best if you act ethically & uninstall immediately.

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