3 Oracle Java Licensing Changes and is Java Free or not?

Java licensing Metodology

Oracle Java licensing has had several major changes since 2019 and it is difficult to keep up with the licensing changes, but we will try to make it simple for you. This article will cover Java licensing changes in 2019 and then we will cover the changes in 2021. You’ve probably heard about the latest Oracle Java license changes, but were you aware of the changes to Java in 2019? Oracle is transitioning away from perpetual licenses and toward subscription-based models. The company will no longer offer free updates for Java SE 8 or earlier. Instead, it will offer support as part of a separate subscription service. The article will also tell you about the Java license cost, if Java licensing is free or not and how to license in VMware. The Java changes impacts both Oracle JRE and Oracle JDK products. If you are ready, here we go lets explain how the changes impact you. Also we recommend that you also watch the videos for more in-depth help.

Do you need an Oracle Java License ?

If you are a company the Java software platform license for any commercial purpose, you should review your Java licensing requirements to understand if you need to purchase a Java License. If you conclude that you need a license, you can decide if you are going to purchase a Java license or migrate to a non-licensable Java JDK like OpenJDK or Azul. You also need to identify if your usage is personal or commercial. One of the main differences between commercial and personal use is the way that you can use Oracle products.

Personal use means that you can use Oracle products on a personal computer, not a corporate PC. The license will not cover the use of third-party applications. That is a change in 2019, corporate usage is no longer free. Also if you patch older Java with a new security update you will also require a license. There are many licensing got-chas such as Java Commercial features and licensing terms that may require you to purchase a license.

Is Java still free?

Java was never completely free. Some Java licensing was free before 2019. But most companies should have purchased a Java license many years ago, but they didn’t do so because Oracle was not auditing Java.

Recommendation: Review the Java licensing agreement to understand if you need a license or not. Depending on which versions you run, you need to review different Java licensing agreements.

Java licensing agreements:

  • Oracle Binary Code License Agreement
  • Oracle Technology Network License Agreement
  • Oracle No-fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC)

Oracle Java licensing change in 2019:


Oracle announced that Oracle Java JDK 8 updates will require a subscription from patch 211 and onwards.


Oracle announced that a new Java licensing agreement is introduced, the Java OTN SE This agreement forbids all commercial usage.


The old licensing agreement BCLA, which most companies did not read, were already making most companies non-compliant.


The changes were announced in 2019 – but the java license change 2020 April.

Which version of Oracle Java JDK requires a license ?

Oracle Java licensing change in 2019:

  • Review the general-purpose definition in the BLCA, you are most likely using Java that should have triggered you purchasing a Java SE license a long time ago.
  • If you have used Java commercial features, you should also have purchased a Oracle Java SE license a long time ago.

Generally, the use of Commercial Features requires a separate license from Oracle. These features cannot be used for free under the Java BCLA. Oracle’s Commercial Features are listed below.

  • Java Enterprise (MSI) Installer
  • ‎ Java Flight Recorder
  • Java Mission Control
  • JRE Usage Tracking

  • Java Advanced Management Console
  • Jrockit Mission Control, Flight Recorder, or Real time Deterministic GC

Oracle Java JDK versions 1-8 – applying security patch 211 and later

  • Once you apply security patch 211 or later, you need to license Java period.
  • The only exception is that you do not need to license Java if usage is for any products listed in the schedule b.

Oracle Java JDK versions 11-16

  • You need to license Oracle JDK on both clients and servers, no free usage is allowed.
  • The only exception is that you do not need to license Java if usage is for any products listed in the schedule b.

Oracle Java JDK versions 17+

  • Currently, you do not need to license Oracle JDK 17 and later.

Was Oracle Java (JDK / JRE ) – free before 2019?

The BCLA allowed for commercial usage if you were using Oracle Java for “general purpose computing”. If you used Oracle JDK or JRE for any other purposes than general purpose computing, you were not allowed to use Oracle JRE and JDK and your company should have purchased a license from Oracle (Oracle Java SE licenses was available on Oracle technology price list).

If you want to know more about our services and how we can help the organization that you work for, contact us to schedule an consultation.

Oracle Java Licensing change in 2021

In 2021 Oracle made another Java license change. They announced a third licensing agreement, the NFTC – Oracle No-Fee Terms and conditions.

You may be wondering: Is Oracle Java still free? If you use OpenJDK, the answer is yes. Oracle has promised to support its free software for at least a year after the release of Java 17. After that, however, Oracle will start charging for the free version. You should consider upgrading to a LTS version of Java instead. It is recommended that you upgrade to the latest version of the software if you plan on using it on your production systems.

While you may be tempted to opt for free versions of Java, you may want to consider purchasing a Java subscription. Subscriptions from Oracle offer value-added features, such as Java Management Service, Advanced Management Console, GraalVM Enterprise, and 24×7 support. Oracle developers develop the source code for the majority of Java platforms in the world. You can purchase an Oracle Java SE subscription for $25 (USD) per processor or $2.50 per user. Many organizations are opting for this option

Watch our video that explains the oracle Java licensing changes in September 2021.

What did Oracle change in the Oracle Java SE license rules?

Oracle did in a blog post announce that Java is now free, but hinted that if you do not update Java 17 you may need to purchase a Java subscription to apply security updates, but nothing has been confirmed.

Oracle announced that beginning from Java JDK 17 and onwards Java is free for commercial usage.

If you are running older versions of Java 1-16, you are not affected by new licensing agreement.

How much does an Oracle Java license cost?

There are 2 different products on Oracle Java price list

Java SE desktop subscription which is a license for your users accessing any Java based applications. Pay attention, this is NOT licensed per device, but per individual who are authorized who access a Java based application. For example, if you have shared usernames for a device and its 20 users who are accessing the computer, all 20 need to have a Java SE subscription license. Java SE desktop subscription is priced at 2,5 USD per month per user.

Java SE Subscription is for licensing the servers where you have Java installed. To calculate how to license Oracle Java you need to apply standard Oracle licensing rules and policies such as Oracle core factor table Oracle virtualization policies Oracle cloud licensing policies Oracle licensing policies for disaster recovery environments. After you have done the calculations and counted the number of processors you need to license you can look at the Java price list to calculate your financial risk. Java SE subscription is priced at 25 USD per month per Oracle processor.

Oracle Java on VMware

Oracle view is that if you deploy a Java JDK on a virtual server and are using VMware ESXI 6.0 and upwards, you need to license every physical host in all your vCenters, even in vCenters where you have not installed Java. How to license Oracle Java SE on VMware differs per version, this video Oracle and VMware licensing explained provides more details.

Oracle classifies VMware as a SOFT PARTITIONING SOFTWARE = no sub-capacity licensing

There is no official Oracle document explaining how to license Oracle on a different version of VMware.

Oracle licensing practices is based on different versions of VMware`s ability to move workloads between clusters of servers, storage and even vCenters in different locations.

VMware 5.: Oracle workloads can be live migrated across clusters within the same vCenter. However, this is limited to clusters sharing the same storage = All servers within a cluster + servers within the vCenter sharing the same storage needs licensing.

VMware 5.1: Oracle workloads can be live migrated across all cluster within the same vCenter = full vCenter needs licensing.

VMware 5.1: Oracle workloads can be live migrated across all cluster within the same vCenter = full vCenter needs licensing.

Moving from 1 cluster with a vCenter, to all clusters with a vCenter, and then all the clusters across all your vCenters


Before making any purchase or engaging with Oracle sales teams customers should:

Review their Java licensing position

In addition to reviewing all your Java deployments considering all Oracle licensing rules and policies – you also need to review: • Java Commercial features usage. • If existing Oracle products included a Java license. • If any other third-party software includes a Java license. • Review all three licensing agreements and match it to your usage.

Create an Oracle licensing strategy for VMware/virtualization.

If you haven’t a strategy for Oracle licensing in VMware / virtualization, you most likely need to decide on one to untangle Java licensing. Once you have that in place you can decide on the procurement or migration options.

Oracle software with Java SE licenses included

Some Oracle products includes a restricted use Java SE license, pictures below show a list of them. If you own a license for any of these products, you may not need to purchase a Java SE license.

Oracle interaction

If Oracle contacts you and want to discuss your Java deployments – unless it’s a formal audit notification letter from Oracle LMS to your CFO/CIO – we recommend you decline all such contacts and perform an independent review of your Java SE licensing. If you need Oracle license expert advice, we have supported over 30+ enterprises worldwide with Java licensing and we can help you with a strategy, our methodology is below

Java licensing – Frequently asked questions

Why are there 3 different Oracle Java licensing agreements?

One agreement is applied to older Oracle Java versions and patches and Java OTN is for Oracle Java 11 and to 17. At Java 17 Java No-fee license agreement applies, the third licensing agreement.

Do Oracle Java 8 license ?

greement is applied to older Oracle Java versions and patches and Java OTN is for Oracle Java 11 and to 17. At Java 17 Java No-fee lic.

If we bought a third-party application that requires Oracle Java SE. Who is responsible for making sure we are compliant?

Review your agreement with the third-party application, if it mentions Oracle Java SE licensing. If it does not it maybe you as the end customer who is responsible for licensing.

Oracle Java licensing and ISV / OEM

Only a few OEM partners have agreements with Oracle Java, and its usually big software companies that have had this type of agreement in place for years. A good rule of thumb, the smaller the ISV is the less chance of such OEM agreement with Oracle.

Oracle Java Licensing and Commercial Features?

To review Oracle Java SE commercial feature usage is the wrong place to start, the question if you need a license or not will most likely be determined by a) reviewing your Java licensing agreement b) your IT security policy that requires you to patch servers and/or desktops c) As soon as you apply a security patch you will be on the new licensing agreement (Oracle Java OTN SE) and it allows no commercial usage at all.

Oracle Java SE OTN does it require license for non prod?

Oracle licensing experts will tell you that Oracle has a view of test and development where ISVs and partners can test and develop their prototype solutions based on Oracle technology without buying a Java license. But you cannot run third party applications with a production and a test and development. Then make the decision that you do not need a license for your test and dev. It is the same case here, it is free for a company to develop their own solutions based on Oracle Java, but as soon as you have a production env that is no longer allowed. It is not allowed to run Oracle Java without a license on a test and dev if you do not own the IP.

How to purchase Oracle Java SE licenses ?

Its volume-based price list which is available publicly. Oracle does not grant any discounts outside of those being made public. This is very different from other Oracle Software where you often have good chances of negotiating high discounts when purchasing new Oracle Software. Other alternative is to buy Oracle Java SE on an Oracle Unlimited agreement, but they are quite pricey at the moment and you would be looking at paying more than €1 a year quite possibly more.

Does Java Development Kit license ?

Yes, the Java Development Kit might need a license review the Java licensing terms applicable for the specific version you are using.

Oracle Java Audits ?

No Oracle license audits does not include Oracle Java currently, if they happen its 1 audit out of 100. Oracle does not audit its customers for Oracle Java. But this can change over-night where Oracle might see declining revenue. It is an old tactic that has proven to always deliver revenue

What recommendation would you give to a company who has not reviewed their Oracle Java licensing yet?

Start, because the Java licensing review will not give you a clear answer” this is what you need to buy” it will only give you an understanding of your current situation. Then in my experience there will be a long internal discussion between your IT, IT security, Management and legal about what your company strategy will be. If you do not start you might be rushed if Oracle audits your company and will be forced to purchase Oracle Java SE licenses that you do not need.

We have tried to purchase Oracle Java SE licenses for a small number of servers, but Oracle seem unwilling to take my order and is requesting a meeting to review our Java licensing.

Sure, we experienced this ourselves when we helped a company review Oracle Java SE licensing. They conclude that they need to buy Oracle Java licenses for quite a big sum of money. But Java SE sales rep at Oracle refused to take the order.

Why would Oracle sales not take our Oracle Java SE license order?

We do not need to speculate here, as the sales rep wrote an e-mail explaining why. He explained that Oracle have 2 different sales organizations. One is based in-country and one is based in inside sales centres in low-cost countries. The in-country sales rep explained that he refused to take the order as he was only compensated on the initial purchase. As soon as the company made a purchase he would” loose” the company as a customer to the other sales team. So, he wanted to maximize his sales compensation by selling an Oracle Java ULA.

Oracle Java license audit - what is your risk ?

  • Oracle is only auditing smaller Oracle customers, not fortune 500.
  • Oracle has actually reduced the number of audits they are conducting on an annual basis.
  • Oracle has no tools or methods to audit Java.
  • Oracle recently announced that Java 17 and onwards are more or less free, why would Oracle audit Java now?
  • The sales teams at Oracle who manages Java are very small and have no power to initiate formal audit for Java.

Related Services

• Java Licensing Review

We hope this article was helpful and you know have a better understanding how to license Java and can figure out if Java is free or not. You will also know how much a Java license cost which is very low cost if you can avoid running Java in VMware. You also know that Java Development Kit needs a license as well as the changes starts from Java 8 and upwards. There are also multiple Java licensing changes in 2019 which came into effect in 2020 and in 2021 Oracle made another change and made a large part of Java free again. Redress Compliance are independent Oracle licensing experts and can help you review Java and reduce the financial risk, contact us to discuss how we can support your company.

Redress compliance are experts in Oracle License Management

Redress compliance are experts in Oracle License Management. Redress is recognized as the leading Oracle licensing experts providing Oracle license compliance, Oracle audit defense, Cloud transition and Oracle ULA services. Serving clients in 41 countries across The US, Europe, Africa, Middle-East, Japan and Brazil.

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