Oracle Java Licensing – Three Java Licensing Changes

Oracle Java Licensing

  • New Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription model
  • Licensing is based on the total number of full-time and part-time employees, including contractors
  • Replaces Named User Plus and Processor licenses
  • Simplifies licensing across the entire organization
  • Pricing varies with employee count, offering volume discounts
  • Ensures all employees are covered regardless of actual Java usage
Table Of Contents
  1. Introduction Oracle Java Licensing
  2. Historical Context of Oracle Java Licensing
  3. Major Java Licensing Changes
  4. Licensing Requirements for Various Oracle Java JDK Versions
  5. Oracle Java License Costs (Pre-2023)
  6. Oracle Java Audits in 2024
  7. Types of Oracle Java Audits
  8. Responding to Oracle’s Java Licensing Emails
  9. The Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription
  10. Expert Advice on Licensing Changes in 2023
  11. Free Java Options
  12. Understanding the Impact on Existing Java SE Customers
  13. Why You Need to Review Your Oracle Java Licensing
  14. FAQs

Introduction Oracle Java Licensing

Introduction Oracle Java Licensing

Brief Overview of Oracle Java Licensing Changes

Oracle has significantly changed its Java licensing policies in recent years. Notable changes include introducing a subscription model, the No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC), and overhauling the “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription” model. These changes reflect Oracle’s response to evolving business needs and aim to simplify licensing while ensuring compliance.

Importance of Staying Updated with Licensing Changes

Staying informed about these licensing changes is crucial for organizations. It helps avoid unexpected costs, ensures compliance, and enables better planning and budgeting. Understanding the latest licensing requirements can prevent software usage and support disruptions.

Significance for Organizations

Oracle’s Java licensing changes have far-reaching implications for organizations. These changes impact budgeting, compliance, and strategic planning. Properly managing these aspects ensures smooth operations and avoids non-compliance risks.

Historical Context of Oracle Java Licensing

Oracle Java Licensing Before 2019

Before 2019, Oracle Java licensing was mainly governed by the Binary Code License Agreement (BCLA), which allowed general-purpose computing. This agreement provided flexibility but required organizations to diligently understand the specific terms of usage.

Licensing Changes Over the Years

2019: Introduction of a Subscription Model for Java Updates Beyond Version 8 Patch 211

  • Oracle introduced a subscription model requiring organizations to subscribe for updates and support for Java versions beyond eight patch 211. This shift aimed to create a more predictable revenue stream for Oracle and ensure continuous support for Java users.

2021: Introduction of No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC) for Java from JDK 17 Onwards

  • In 2021, Oracle introduced the NFTC, which allowed free commercial use of Java starting from JDK 17. This change was significant as it offered organizations an option to use the latest Java versions without incurring additional costs, provided they did not require long-term support or updates beyond the initial free period.

2023: Overhaul to the “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription” Model

  • The most recent change in 2023 introduced the “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription” model. This new licensing approach replaced the traditional Named User Plus and Processor licenses with an employee-based model. Under this model, licensing fees are calculated based on the total number of full-time and part-time employees, including contractors. This change simplifies the licensing process but requires organizations to carefully assess their total employee count to ensure compliance.

This new model reflects Oracle’s shift towards a more inclusive and simplified licensing structure accommodating modern business environments and diverse workforce compositions.

Major Java Licensing Changes

Major Java Licensing Changes

2019 Licensing Changes

Shift to a Subscription Model for Updates

  • In 2019, Oracle transitioned to a subscription model for Java updates beyond version 8 patch 211. This model requires organizations to subscribe for ongoing updates and support, ensuring they remain secure and compliant with the latest standards.

Establishment of Java OTN SE Agreement Limiting Commercial Use

  • The same year, Oracle introduced the Java OTN SE Agreement, which limited the commercial use of Java SE. This agreement required organizations using Java SE for commercial purposes to obtain proper licensing, shifting away from the previously more permissive Binary Code License.

2021 Licensing Changes

NFTC Allowing Free Commercial Use from JDK 17 Onwards

  • Oracle further updated its licensing model in 2021 by introducing No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC). This change allowed free commercial use of Java starting from JDK 17. Organizations could use the latest Java versions without licensing fees, provided they did not require extended support or updates beyond the initial release.

2023 Licensing Overhaul

Introduction of “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription”

  • The 2023 overhaul introduced the “Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription” model, significantly altering the previous licensing structure. This new model charges based on the total number of full-time and part-time employees, including contractors, shifting away from the Named User Plus and Processor licenses.

Replacement of Named User Plus and Processor Licenses with an Employee-Based Model

  • This employee-based model aims to simplify the licensing process by covering all employees, regardless of their direct interaction with Java SE. It ensures comprehensive coverage and compliance across the entire organization.

Licensing Requirements for Various Oracle Java JDK Versions

JDK Versions 1-8 (Pre-Security Patch 211)

General Usage Overview

  • For Java JDK versions 1-8, before applying security patch 211, organizations could use Java under the terms of the Binary Code License Agreement (BCLA), which permitted certain free uses but required licenses for specific commercial features.

Requirement for Separate Licenses for Commercial Features

  • Commercial features such as Java Flight Recorder and Java Mission Control necessitated separate Oracle Java SE licenses, even before the 2019 changes.

JDK Versions 1-8 (Post-Security Patch 211)

Licensing Requirements Post-Patch Application

  • After applying security patch 211, licensing requirements shifted, necessitating compliance with the Java OTN SE Agreement. This meant continued use of Java SE for commercial purposes required proper licensing.

Exception Scenarios

  • There were exceptions for products listed in Schedule B, which did not require additional licensing if Java was used exclusively for these products.

JDK Versions 11-16

Licensing Requirements for Client and Server Use

  • For Java JDK versions 11-16, licenses were required for both client and server environments. There was no allowance for free use, and organizations had to ensure proper licensing to avoid compliance issues.

Exceptions for Schedule B Products

  • Like earlier versions, Java did not require licensing if used exclusively for products detailed in Schedule B, which provided some relief for specific use cases.

JDK Versions 17 and Beyond

Free Usage Conditions

  • With JDK 17, Oracle allowed free commercial use under the No-Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC). Organizations could use these versions without licensing costs, provided they did not apply security patches beyond September 2024.

Licensing Requirements Post-September 2024 Security Patches

  • If organizations applied security patches released after September 2024, they would need to secure appropriate licenses. This change aimed to balance free initial use with ongoing support and update requirements.

This structured approach to understanding Oracle Java licensing changes helps organizations navigate the complexities of compliance, ensuring they remain up-to-date and prepared for future developments.

Oracle Java License Costs (Pre-2023)

Java SE Desktop Subscription

Per User Licensing and Costs

  • The Java SE Desktop Subscription model required licensing on a per-user basis.
  • Each user accessing Java-based applications needed a subscription.
  • The cost was typically around USD 2.50 per user per month.
  • This model was designed to provide flexibility and cost control for desktop environments.

Java SE Subscription for Servers

Licensing Rules and Cost Calculation

  • Server licensing for Java SE followed Oracle’s standard licensing policies.
  • Costs were determined based on the number of processors in use.
  • The subscription fee was generally USD 25 per month per Oracle processor.
  • Calculations included factors such as the Oracle core factor table and specific rules for virtualization and disaster recovery environments.

Oracle Software with Included Java SE Licenses

Overview of Products with Bundled Java SE Licenses

  • Certain Oracle products included a restricted-use Java SE license.
  • This bundling allowed users to utilize Java SE as part of their existing Oracle product environment without incurring additional licensing fees.

List of Inclusive Products

  • Examples of Oracle products with bundled Java SE licenses:
    • Oracle SQL Developer
    • JACIC Electronic Bidding Systems
    • Oracle Forms
    • Oracle E-Business Suite
    • Oracle WebLogic Server Products
    • JD Edwards
  • These products provided significant cost savings by including Java SE licenses in the package.

Oracle Java Audits in 2024

Types of Oracle Java Audits

Oracle Java Audits and Revenue Generation

Increased Revenue from Java Licenses and Subscriptions

  • Oracle’s revenue from Java licenses and subscriptions significantly increased in 2024.
  • This growth was driven by more stringent auditing practices and the implementation of new licensing models.

Types of Oracle Java Audits

Soft Audits

  • Oracle often initiates audits with a “soft audit” approach.
  • This involves contacting organizations via email to discuss license compliance.
  • Soft audits are less formal but can escalate if not addressed promptly.

Formal Audits

  • A formal audit involves a comprehensive review by Oracle’s audit teams.
  • These audits include a thorough examination of all Java deployments within an organization.
  • Formal audits can lead to substantial financial implications if non-compliance is found.

Preparing for Oracle Java Audits

Importance of Compliance and Audit Defense

  • Staying compliant with Oracle’s licensing terms is crucial to avoid penalties.
  • Organizations should maintain accurate records of their Java deployments and usage.
  • Engaging with an audit defense expert can help mitigate risks and manage the audit process effectively.

Responding to Oracle’s Java Licensing Emails

Oracle’s Soft Audit via Email

Initial Contact and Recommended Response

  • Oracle typically begins the audit process with an email, initiating a “soft audit.”
  • It’s advisable not to respond directly without understanding the implications.
  • Organizations should seek expert advice before sharing any deployment data with Oracle.

Tailor-Made Java Audit Advisory Service

Expert Assistance in Responding to Oracle

  • Specialized advisory services can help organizations navigate the audit process.
  • Experts guide how to respond to Oracle’s inquiries and manage compliance.
  • This tailored approach ensures organizations are well-prepared and protected during audits.

This structured approach to understanding Oracle Java license costs and audits helps organizations effectively manage their compliance and licensing strategies. By staying informed and prepared, companies can avoid pitfalls and optimize their Java usage.

The Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription

Introduction to the New Licensing Model

Transition to the Employee-Based Metric

  • Oracle has transitioned to an employee-based Java licensing metric, the Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription.
  • This model replaces the traditional Named User Plus and Processor licenses, simplifying the licensing process by covering all employees within an organization.

Features and Pricing of the New Model

Enterprise-Wide Metric Application

  • The new model applies an enterprise-wide metric, ensuring all employees, including full-time, part-time, and contractors, are covered under a single subscription.
  • This approach aims to streamline licensing management and ensure comprehensive compliance.

Detailed Pricing Structure and Cost Calculation Examples

  • The cost is calculated based on the total number of employees:
    • $15.00 per employee for 1-999 employees
    • $12.00 per employee for 1,000-2,999 employees
    • $10.50 per employee for 3,000-9,999 employees
    • $8.25 per employee for 10,000-19,999 employees
    • $6.75 per employee for 20,000-29,999 employees
    • $5.70 per employee for 30,000-39,999 employees
    • $5.25 per employee for 40,000-49,999 employees
  • Example: A company with 42,000 employees would pay an annual cost of $5.25 per employee, totaling $2,808,000.

Licensing Specifics

Definition of ‘Employee’

  • Oracle broadly defines ’employee’ as all personnel associated with the organization, necessitating licenses for a comprehensive count.

Usage Restrictions and Processor Limitations

  • The license is strictly for internal business operations and does not cover hosting solutions for external clients.
  • The license allows installation and operation on up to 50,000 processors, with additional licenses required for any usage exceeding this cap, excluding desktops and laptops.

Expert Advice on Licensing Changes in 2023

Expected Contact from Oracle

Renewal Notifications and Audit Enhancements

  • Organizations should anticipate contact from Oracle regarding renewal notifications and potential audit enhancements.
  • Oracle has improved its audit capabilities, particularly for Java, to ensure compliance and capture revenue from license renewals.

Licensing for Older Java Versions

Reassessment of Licensing Needs

  • Organizations using older versions of Java need to reassess their licensing requirements.
  • Oracle’s new policies may necessitate licenses for versions that previously did not require them, impacting the overall licensing strategy.

Changes for Java ULA Holders

Transition from ULAs and Negotiation Importance

  • Customers with Java Unlimited License Agreements (ULAs) may need to transition to the new employee-based metric, as renewals may not be offered.
  • Effective negotiation is crucial to manage costs and ensure a smooth transition to the new licensing model.

Renewal of Existing Java Licenses

Mandatory Soft Audits and Increased Licensing Requirements

  • Organizations must share deployment data with Oracle to renew existing licenses, often involving a soft audit.
  • Oracle may identify compliance issues during this process, leading to increased licensing requirements and costs.

Free Java Options


Open-Source Alternative for Most Environments

  • OpenJDK is a viable open-source alternative to Oracle’s Java, suitable for most development and production environments.
  • It offers a cost-effective solution without the licensing fees associated with Oracle Java SE.

Java 17 and Later

Free Usage Conditions and Post-2024 Options

  • Java 17 and later versions are free to use without licensing fees until September 2024.
  • After this date, applying security patches will require a license, so organizations should plan accordingly to avoid unexpected costs.

Older Versions of Oracle JDK

Scenarios for Non-Commercial Licensing

  • Certain scenarios might not require a commercial license for older Java versions, particularly if used in non-commercial or limited internal applications.
  • Organizations should review their usage to determine if they fall under these exceptions and adjust their licensing strategies accordingly.

By understanding these sections, organizations can better navigate the complexities of Oracle’s Java licensing changes, ensure compliance, and optimize their software usage and costs.

Understanding the Impact on Existing Java SE Customers

Renewal Terms and Pricing

Review of Renewal Policies

  • Oracle has updated its renewal policies, impacting how existing Java SE customers renew their licenses.
  • Organizations must review these policies to understand the new terms and pricing structures.
  • Renewal terms may include increased fees and mandatory compliance with new licensing models.

Sharing Deployment Data

Data Requirements for Renewal

  • To renew Java SE licenses, Oracle typically requires detailed deployment data.
  • This data includes the number of employees, Java usage across various environments, and any relevant compliance information.
  • Accurate and thorough data sharing is crucial for smooth renewal processes and to avoid penalties.

Outreach from Oracle

Preparing for Oracle’s Contact and Potential Transitions

  • Oracle will likely discuss the transition to the new employee-based licensing model.
  • Organizations should prepare for this contact by understanding their licensing position and potential changes.
  • It is important to be ready for negotiations and proactively address any compliance issues.

Why You Need to Review Your Oracle Java Licensing

Importance of Reviewing Licensing Requirements

Ensuring Compliance and Cost Optimization

  • Regularly reviewing Oracle Java licensing requirements is essential to ensure compliance and optimize costs.
  • Licensing reviews help identify gaps or overlaps in current licenses, preventing unnecessary expenditures.
  • Staying updated with Oracle’s licensing policies can prevent compliance issues and associated penalties.

Preparation for Negotiation

Accurate Knowledge of Current Deployments for Effective Negotiation

  • Knowing your current Java deployments is vital for effective negotiation with Oracle.
  • Accurate deployment data allows organizations to negotiate better terms and avoid over-licensing.
  • Proper preparation includes understanding the total number of employees, usage patterns, and any special conditions that might apply to your organization’s Java usage.

By understanding these sections, organizations can effectively manage their Oracle Java licensing, ensure compliance, and optimize costs through informed decision-making and strategic negotiations.


What is the new Oracle Java SE Universal Subscription?

Oracle’s new subscription model, introduced in 2023, is based on the total number of employees. It replaces the previous Named User Plus and Processor licenses.

Do I need a license for Oracle Java 17?

Java 17 is free for commercial use until September 2024. After that, applying security patches will require a license.

How is the Employee for Java SE Universal Subscription priced?

Pricing is tiered based on the number of employees, with rates decreasing as the employee count increases.

What happens if I apply security patches to Java 8 post-211 update?

Applying security patches beyond update 211 for Java 8 requires a Java OTN SE Agreement subscription.

Can I use OpenJDK instead of Oracle Java?

OpenJDK is a free, open-source alternative suitable for most environments and avoids Oracle’s licensing fees.

What data do I need to provide for Java license renewal?

Oracle typically requires detailed deployment data, including the number of employees and Java usage details across environments.

How should I prepare for a soft audit from Oracle?

Seek expert advice, review your current Java deployments, and avoid sharing unanalyzed data with Oracle.

Are there any exceptions to licensing requirements for older Java versions?

Certain non-commercial uses may not require a license, but reviewing specific licensing agreements is essential for compliance.

What is included in Oracle’s Java audits?

Audits include reviewing all Java deployments within an organization, focusing on compliance and potential licensing gaps.

Can Oracle Java be used in public cloud environments?

Yes, but you must comply with both Oracle’s ULA terms and the cloud provider’s terms of service. License mobility provisions may apply.

How does the new licensing model affect Java ULA holders?

Holders of Java ULAs may need to transition to the new employee-based metric, often at a higher cost. Effective negotiation is crucial.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with Oracle Java licensing?

Non-compliance can result in significant financial penalties and the requirement to purchase additional licenses to cover usage.

Is the Java Development Kit (JDK) free to use?

The JDK is free under certain conditions, such as for development purposes, but depending on the version, commercial use may require a license.

Do I need to license each user accessing Java applications?

Yes, all employees, including those indirectly using Java, need to be licensed under the new employee-based model.

How can I avoid licensing fees for Java after 2024?

Avoid applying security patches released after September 2024 or upgrading to a newer version of Java that does not require a license for patches.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson is an Oracle licensing expert with over 20 years of experience in Oracle license management. He spent 10 years working for Oracle corporation and then 10 years at a consultant leading engagements on Oracle license assessments, audits, ULAs. He is a public speaker and author

    View all posts