Java licensing

Is Java Free for Commercial Use?

Is Java Free for Commercial Use?

In the world of software development, Java is a household name. Developed by Sun Microsystems and later acquired by Oracle Corporation, Java has been a cornerstone of many applications and systems.

However, a common question is whether Java is free for commercial use. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it might seem, and it largely depends on the specific version of Java you are using and the associated licensing agreement.

Oracle’s Java Licensing Agreements

Oracle Java Licensing Agreements

Oracle has introduced three different Java licensing agreements over the years. These agreements have evolved, and the agreement choice depends on your specific Java version.

  1. Oracle Binary Code License Agreement
  2. Oracle Technology Network License Agreement
  3. Oracle No-fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC)

Each agreement has different terms and conditions; understanding them is crucial to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary costs.

Is Java Free for Commercial Use?

Is Java Free for Commercial Use

The misconception that Java is entirely free for commercial use is widespread. However, this is not entirely accurate. While some versions of Java were free before 2019, most companies should have purchased a Java license many years ago.

In 2019, Oracle announced that security updates for Java 8 could no longer be downloaded without a subscription. This marked a significant shift in how Java updates were accessed.

In 2023, Oracle introduced the enterprise-wide metric license model.

This new model implies that if you need Java for a single user or server, you must buy a license for your entire employee population. It’s no longer possible to license a subsection of your users or servers.

Oracle’s Java Licensing Changes

Oracle has made several significant changes to Java licensing over the years. In 2019, Oracle announced that Oracle Java JDK 8 updates would require a subscription. In 2021, Oracle introduced a third licensing agreement, the NFTC – Oracle No-Fee Terms and Conditions.

In 2023, Oracle introduced a significant shift in its pricing structure for Java.

They unveiled the Oracle Java SE Universal Subscription Global Price List, which replaces the old PROC and NUP models. The charges are based on the total number of full- or part-time employees and contractors.

The Cost of Oracle Java License

The Cost of Oracle Java License

The cost of an Oracle Java license depends on the specific licensing agreement and the number of users or servers that require the license.

For instance, the Java SE Universal Subscription costs vary based on the number of employees, ranging from $15.00 per employee for 1-999 employees to $5.25 per employee for 40,000-49,999 employees.


In conclusion, Java is not accessible for commercial use in almost all cases. Understanding Oracle’s Java licensing agreements and staying updated with the latest changes is crucial to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary costs.

Reviewing your Java licensing agreement to understand whether you need a license for your deployment of Java is recommended.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.