Did You Upgrade to Free Oracle Java 17? Are You Ready to Start Paying?

Oracle Java 17 is free, right? Well it is and it isn’t. In fact, using Java 17 is free for a while, and then it’s not free. How can that be? Let’s dig into this.

Oracle Java 17 and later are distributed under the “Oracle No-Fee Terms and Conditions License”. If you read the NFTC license it all looks good. This is where it gets interesting. According to Oracle’s own licensing FAQ, Java 17 “will receive updates under this license for one year after the release of the subsequent LTS. After the free use license period, Oracle intends to use the OTN License”. So you only get Java 17 free for a limited time, then it’s distributed under the OTN and you have to pay.

Currently, Oracle charges for every employee (and contractor) in your company, regardless of whether or not they actually use the software. Here are a couple of examples of how this will unfold:

Example 1

Customer ‘A’ is a mid-size company with 60 servers and 2,000 employees. They download and install Java 17 on their development and production machines, and decide to retain this version to avoid the costs associated with upgrading. In October 2024, they download a patch, Oracle contacts the customer and notifies them that they are in violation of the OTN license agreement for Java SE. The only option available to remedy the situation is to license Oracle Java for all 2,000 employees, at a cost of $288k per year, or $1.44m over 5 years. (Oracle likes these long-term Java contracts.)

Example 2

Customer ‘B’ also downloads and installs Oracle Java 17, but they have been educated about Oracle licensing through regular contact with Palisade Compliance. They run a yearly scan of their environment to validate their Oracle Java deployments and keep a close eye on their software installations. As a result, they are aware of the limited-time restrictions of the NFTC license and ensure all Java v17 installations are updated to v21 no later than August 2024 and/or they’ve moved offending Java 17 deployments to a non-Oracle version of Java. When Oracle contacts them, they discover that the customer is well educated and confident discussing Oracle licensing, and that all Java deployments have been updated to the latest LTS release. Oracle must go away empty-handed, and the customer can continue their Java usage at no cost.

Seek help

Don’t get caught off guard by the changes in Oracle Java licensing. Contact Palisade Compliance for clarity and assistance with your Oracle Java deployments and licensing requirements. We can help you avoid potential costs and risk associated with these changes.

Picture of Craig Guarente
Craig Guarente
Craig is the President and Founder of Palisade Compliance, which he founded in 2011. Before 2011, Craig worked at Oracle for 16 years where he was the Global Vice President of Contracts, Business Practices, and Migrations. He was also the Global Process Owner for Oracle’s audit teams (LMS), a member of Oracle’s CIO advisory board, and on the Oracle User Group’s contract and licensing advisory board. Craig is now the leading expert on Oracle licensing, is quoted in dozens of publications, and assists with many high-profile Oracle disputes.