On September 13th 2021, Oracle released its new Long Term Support (LTS) release of Oracle Java : Release 17. With this new release, Oracle introduced a new licensing terms and conditions as well under the so called “Oracle – No Fee Terms and Conditions (NFTC)”.
Many individuals and/or consultancy firms now think or claim that with this new release and new terms, Oracle Java is “free of charge” again! But as always, the devil is in the details.
Let’s have a close look at what the agreement actually says.
The agreement first of all states that the use of Oracle Java – Release 17 is governed by the NFTC, unless you have received the program (stand-alone or as part of another Oracle program) under another Oracle License Agreement (e.g. Oracle Master Agreement).
In other words:
If you as a company are already licensed for Oracle Java programs (e.g. through an Oracle Java Standard Edition Subscription or as part of another Oracle license (e.g. Oracle Weblogic), then your deployment and use of Oracle Java Release 17 is NOT governed by the “No Fee Terms and Conditions”.
License Rights and Restrictions:
In case your company has NOT obtained the right to make use of Oracle Java through another license agreement from Oracle (which is rather unlikely to be the case ), then the following use rights and restrictions are applicable for the deployment and use of Oracle Java Release 17 as per the “No Fee Terms and Conditions”.
You receive the right to internally use the unmodified Oracle Java Release 17 programs for the purposes of developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your applications
This right was already granted earlier by Oracle for previous Oracle Java releases as well under its so called “Oracle Technology Network License Agreement for Oracle Java SE”.
Important point to keep mind is that it states “your applications”. This is typically explained by Oracle (e.g. during the course of an audit) as the applications that you as a company own/developed. In other words, if you are using Oracle Java in a “test” or “development” environment used by third party application (an application that is not “yours”) then such use right is not granted.
You receive the right to run the Oracle Java Release 17 programs for your own personal use or internal business operations
This right to make use of the Oracle Java Release 17 programs for your own “personal use” was already granted earlier by Oracle for previous Oracle Java releases as well under its so called “Oracle Technology Network License Agreement for Oracle Java SE”. “Personal use” refers to an individuals use of the Oracle Java programs solely on a desktop or laptop under the control of such individual. In other words, a corporate laptop/desktop is not under the control of an individual (but is under the control of a corporate) and as is such not classified as “personal use”.
The right to run to the Oracle Java Release 17 programs for your “internal business operations”
This right is NEW! This means that an end-user organisation is entitled to deploy and use the Oracle Java release 17 programs for your internal business operations. In other words, if you want to deploy and use Oracle Java release 17 within your organisation, then you do not longer require to have a separate license for the use of Oracle Java release 17. But remember, this is ONLY applicable, if your deployment and use of Oracle Java is not yet governed through another Oracle License Agreement (e.g. Oracle Master Agreement).
But how long will Oracle use the NFTC and what happens afterwards?
Oracle will use the NFTC for JDK 17 and later releases. LTS releases, such as JDK 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, the same currently used for Java 8 and 11 LTS releases, for subsequent updates.
In other words, as an organisation you can only use Oracle JDK 17 for free in production until Sep’24 (1 year after next LTS). If your company wants further Java 17 updates after Sep’24, your company has to buy Oracle Java SE Subscription and fall back to the OTN license agreement (or jump to the next LTS release every 2 years).
Does this mean that I will not require a Java Subscription any longer?
In order to answer this question, we should take a step back and think on why end-users typically decide to obtain an Oracle Java subscription.
In the past some companies decided to buy an Oracle Java Subscription from a license compliance perspective. But this is typically not the major reason.
The major reason why companies decided to obtain an Oracle Java subscription is for security reasons. Companies would want to be allowed to make use of patches and/or bug fixes to protect their most mission-critical applications from a security perspective.
In order to do so, you are still required to have an Oracle Java Standard Subscription for your deployments both: on clients and/or servers.
About the Author
Richard Spithoven is the Global Lead for Oracle License and Commercial Advisory Services at SotwareONE. Before his current role, Richard was one of the managing partners at B-lay. Richard brings more than twenty years of relevant license management experience to his role, having previously served as Regional Director of License Compliance at Oracle Corporation. Richard uses his knowledge of enterprise software vendors to educate, equip and enable software end users in their challenges regarding proper software license management. Richard holds a master’s degree in IT, from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.