Is it legal to download the free student version of Maya, when you're not a student?


Hi, my name is Erlend.

I have used many 3D-animation softwares before, (blender etc.) and wanted to start out fresh in a new software. I’ve heard that many animation companies are using Maya, and that I should learn it now, so it would be easier to get a job in the future.

My question is: Is it legal to download the free student version of Maya, when you’re not a student?

I am not going to use it for commisions or earn money on anything I do in the program, but I’m only 14 years old. So in my case, im not a student. I’ve heard that the biggest rule to use the student version is that you can’t earn money from your assets. Therefor, im not going to.

Do anybody have an answer? Thanks.


technically you need to be a student or as AD phrase it: " in the case of a Qualified Educational Institution, Faculty or Other Authorized Educational Licensees, purposes directly related to learning, teaching, training, research and development that are part of the instructional functions performed by a Qualified Educational Institution or Other Authorized Educational Licensee".

what ever that mean these days…

So, you say you are 14, you are then in some sort of school I assume. Done deal. Sign up, download, and enjoy.


Well ethically it’s the responsibility of the end-user too comply with a given software product’s terms and agreements (EULA) even though to my knowledge ADSK foregoes verification of a ‘student’s’ status at the point of installation, so effectively an individual not enrolled in a course of study is still able too acquire an educational licence for three years. But that being said I urge compliance simply because I believe at your stated age, beginning a possible learning path en route towards a potential CG industry career, implementing any application under false pretences is strongly ill advised behaviour, since your implied end goal seems to suggest working alongside others in a team. Furthermore a few characteristics they will reasonably expect from their colleague includes, integrity, honesty and most of all reliability in terms of optimised resolution to an assigned task within a production pipeline. Now my advice is to take up some educational study, be it a short training program of choice or similar initiative prior to acquiring a student licence and if nothing else eventuates then perhaps this self learning option might lead to other possible opportunities as yet unseen.


I am not going to use it for commisions or earn money on anything I do in the program, but I’m only 14 years old.

Okay. Let me see if I understand this. You’re 14 years old and not attending school of ANY kind? Shouldn’t you be in, like, 9th grade or something? I don’t think that Autodesk is specifically saying that you’ve got to be in college or art school of any kind. Even as a high school student you’re okay.

That said…

My question is: Is it legal to download the free student version of Maya, when you’re not a student?

Short and simple? No.

The basic requirements, afaik, are that you either have to be a student at an accredited institution, a teacher, or are mentoring somebody in an Autodesk sponsored contest or event. If you’re none of those things then you don’t qualify. Some people might say, “Oh, but that just means that what you’ll be doing is unethical. It’s not stealing. Gimme a break.” Well… Not really true.

The whole deal is a multi-part thing. You’ve got the software, the serial numbers, and the activation. The software itself is worthless without a serial number, the code for which you’d normally have to pay. Getting that code and not qualifying means that you’re basically circumventing the system. You’re then taking it a step further by actually making use of their activation servers, which (iirc) get routinely checked to validate your installation.

You don’t own the software. Nobody does, really. At best, if you’re paying, you really only own a license to use that software. Autodesk is the actual owner. They’re just granting you the right to use it. It’s their ball, which means that they make the rules. If they want to give it away for free then that’s what they can do. If they want to sell it then that’s their right too. If they want to offer a limited license to legitimate students then that’s ALSO their right.

Autodesk gets to say who does and who doesn’t use their software. It’s their intellectual property. If they don’t want you to use Maya without qualifying for a freebie license or paying then, well, you can’t use it. Period. If you don’t qualify, but still manage to obtain their software and use it without paying then you’re guilty of IP infringement same as if you had downloaded a cracked copy. The only difference here is that you’re using their actual activation servers instead of spoofing them.

It’s not just an issue of morality here. It isn’t. In the “old days” stealing software involved actually taking the box or something like that. You were physically depriving the companies of actual, physical units. Today, we’re in a digital world. Product exists only as 1s and 0s. What you’re being sold, as I said, isn’t a physical item, but a license. When you use software without being given express permission to use it then you’re doing so without license. You’ve taken a right that can only be given to you. By pretending to be a student, especially by giving a fake e-mail or school, then you’re unjustly enriching yourself through fraudulent means.

Look. Autodesk does have a sort of license compliance group that is tasked with weeding out pirates and such. However, it’s very unlikely that you’d be targeted. You, as a single user and a 14 year old no less, aren’t their worry. You’re small potatoes. They’re after the hacking groups and the studios that are illegally using $40k worth of licenses. Those are the guys cutting into their bottom line. I’m not saying that you doing it wouldn’t matter. It sure would. You’re just not their main concern.

IMO, you probably won’t get caught. You just shouldn’t do it though. Like I said, it’s not just unethical. It’s illegal. In the US, copyright infringement is normally a criminal offense and is punishable via fine and/or jail. You’re 14 so things are a bit different, but it’s still no less illegal. You’d be obtaining a license, for which you don’t qualify and aren’t paying, through some degree of fraud or misrepresentation, explicit or otherwise.

Like I said, don’t do it. You’re 14 years old. Just use Blender. It’s super powerful, it’s 100% free, you CAN use it in professional environments and for commercial work. Build your portfolio that way. If you then earn enough money to transition over to a Maya subscription then good for you. You’ll be legal.

FWIW, there a lot of working professionals who have basically given the finger to commercial software. I, for one, have been doing CG for close to 28 years now - twice as long as you’ve been alive. I’ve just about used it all in that time. Maya. LightWave. Cinema4D. Rhino. 3dsmax. Shade. You name it. I got REALLY tired of that crazy train of high priced upgrades with very little new. It was getting harder and harder to justify the price of admission. I decided, unless I’m absolutely forced to use something else, I’m going with Blender. It’s plenty powerful and no less flawed than the $$$ competitors. Maya’s not a perfect app either. There’s no such beast.

You may indeed have to use Maya at some point in the future. However, for now, why risk using a bogus license when you don’t have to? You’re 14 years old. Like I said, Blender’s 100% free and more than powerful to do commercial work with. When the time comes that you want to transition to Maya, it’ll be a fairly trivial affair. The buttons will be in different places and Maya might have different names for familiar functions, but the concepts are universal. Your transition period might be counted in weeks, days, or hours depending on your skill level going in and what you need to do.

Once again… If you’re not a student, a teacher, or a qualifying mentor then you’re not entitled to download, activate, or use a student license. No ifs, ands, or buts. Unethical. Illegal. You probably won’t get caught, but that shouldn’t matter. You’ve got viable alternatives. There should be no excuse, imo.

You’re 14. I’d be surprised if you weren’t in school. In that case, even as a high school student, you’re good to go. Download and enjoy.


Hi again, and thanks for the answers!

Think you misunderstood what I meant by “I’m not a student”.
English is not my first language, so it was all my fault. What I meant was that I am not in a school where they feature or learn CGI, Maya etc.
I am in 9th grade, as you said.

I have never even considered about cracking or downloading Maya illegaly. I know it’s illigal, and that the consequenses can be big later in my life.

But as I said, thank you for answering my question, I really apprechiate it!


Yeah. I don’t think that it matters whether or not your school has a CG art program or not. As long as you’re a student of some kind, you should be okay.



I just wanted to know if I got a student license now, it will last in 3 years. But if im going to go to classes in animation and such, it will be in 5 years. Am I able to use a new student license after the 3 years?


Again it really is a matter of taking the time to read, commonly referred to as a Software Licencing Agreement which is readily available online or prior to selecting the “I accept” button during the installation process. So with that said if you decide on acquiring an applicable Maya edition, ask for a simplified explanation where required i.e particular paragraph, section and/or entire document via Autodesk’s admin staff. From my experience they’re generally prompt and helpful responding to enquiries, plus for the record I’ve acquired a ADSK student licence quite recently specifically for polygonal modelling technique/workflow self teaching purposes.

Also on a cautionary note for future reference, think about using less provocative phrasing simply due to misinterpretation of the initial intent as occurred here.



The reason for why I’m asking so many questions is because of my age, and that English is not my first language. That means that I can misunderstand some of the rules, just because of my bad English.

Even though I can simply read some of the things Autodesk has published, I want to check if the things that I read is right, and that i understood it. I don’t want to do anything illegal!
Therefor I just want to get simple answers.

Im just asking if anybody knows anything about it, and can confirm it to me.

But thanks for the answers anyway! :slight_smile:


The software vendor, in this case Autodesk would be your most likely source for all and any other questions you may have related too their product/s.


Wait…you can only download the student versions only if you’re a student??? So what is the option for people out of school who would like to use AD software just for learning???


Does it surprise you that only students can download student versions?

If you are not a student then you have two choices. Either sign up for a yearly, or multi-year, subscription or pay as you go, month to month. There are no other options.


Well, technically, there is another option. Maya LT, the $30/month subscription-based indie version of Maya proper. For commercial users, Maya LT would be a terrible option. As you might expect, like MODO indie, Maya LT is obviously feature restricted. You won’t get the full breadth and depth of Maya’s functionality. For an aspiring (non-student) Maya artist, LT should be considered a viable option. It’s a starting point.

Some Steam users complain about "x’ or “y” missing features, but you are looking at the differences inherent in a $30/month version VS a $185/month one. The comparisons aren’t exactly fair. Going in, your expectations should be tempered a bit.

Again, imo, Maya - and Autodesk in general - isn’t the only player on the block. Unless you specifically have your eyes set on a certain studio or industry, you DO have other legitimate options - paid or otherwise.

TBH, if you’ve never done ANY sort of CG work before, I’d probably go with Blender. It’s not super easy for a 100% newbie, but you need to understand if you even have an aptitude for the art first. I wouldn’t risk money on any app when you’ve got zero experience. You might be tempted to take that $185/month plunge, but might end up regretting it if CG turns out not to be your thing.

On top of that, app preference tends to be very personal. Just because your job might require you to use “x” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll like it. You may end up using “y” for all of your personal stuff. It happens all of the time.

I would avail myself of those 30-day demos and whatever open source software you can get atm. Get a feeling for what’s out there before you make any big decisions.


Hmm i thought that their licensing was lax enough to allow for anyone to download and learn AD software in a non commercial setting. I guess this affects those who wish to enter into the professional markets where such software is used.


You can also download the guest version of the software which is helpful for both studies and video editing options as well. A lot of students can now find out the site options which provide the essay writing platform for the students who need quality writing work in an easy way.


you can only download the student versions only if you’re a student??? So what is the option for people out of school who would like to use AD software just for learning


Way to resurrect an almost 5yo thread. The last post was just over 3 years ago. :slight_smile: ANYWAY… To answer your question…

Since this thread was started, Autodesk has closed that EDU loophole that would just let anybody download and use Maya or 3dsmax for free. Now, if your a legitimate student at a qualifying institution, you must show actual proof that you are currently matriculating. Otherwise, you don’t get the freebie.

That said, if you’re not a student then ARE still options:

  1. Maya LT: This is a super stripped down version of Maya that’s supposedly designed for indie game artists. You can get it for $280/yr or $755/3 years. I would strongly advise against getting it though. Autodesk removes so much functionality and imposes such strict limitations that it’s practically unusable if you want to get serious with it.
  2. Maya Indie: This version of Maya is also targeted at indie artists. However, unlike Maya LT, this version is 100% full featured and exactly like the regular Maya in every way. The only restriction is a revenue cap. If you earn more than $100k using it then you are strongly advised to upgrade to the unrestricted commercial license. As with Maya LT, price is also $280/yr - which makes you wonder why LT even exists in the first place. Autodeks kinda hides Maya Indie so you won’t exactly find it on their main page. However, if you dig through their Area site, you can find it there: For the same $280/yr price, you also go with 3dsmax Indie if that’s your preference.
  3. Blender: 100% fully functional. 100% free. Super powerful and a very viable alternative if you’re an indie artist, a freelancer, are operating a small/mid-sized studio of your own, or just want to give Autodesk the finger. :slight_smile: It’ll do just about everything that you want and that Maya can plus a whole lot of other stuff. It really IS excellent. It currently stands at v2.93.6 and v3.0 officially comes out in 3 weeks.

Currently, I have a subscription to Maya, but actually prefer Blender. For a whole lot of things, it’s a one stop solution. I can understand if you want to stay in ADSK territory if you feel that will help you get a job inside of a studio. Still consider using Blender alongside Maya or 3dsmax though. It certainly does some stuff extra or far better such as video editing, sculpting, compositing, 2D animation, and so on. The Eevee and upcoming Cycles X rendering engines are also top notch and very fast.

Blender currently has a lot of industry support and has some heavy duty financial backing from the likes of: Intel, Adobe, Epic, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, NVIDIA, AMD, Google, Unity, and so on. Still $0 and still worth checking out even if you can afford the $1,700/yr that ADSK is asking for Maya commercial.