Oracle Java license teams set to begin targeting Oracle users who don't think they use Oracle

IP address of downloads offers crumb trail to orgs who should be ready for Big Red, says licensing expert

Organizations that do not consider themselves Oracle customers, but who use Java, can expect a call from the Big Red in the next three to nine months, according to a software licensing specialist.

House of Brick, which has spent years advising clients on how to manage their commercial arrangements with Oracle, said it had noticed an uptick in organizations seeking advice after being contacted by the tech giant about their Java use.

"Even if you are not an Oracle customer, they are tracking product downloads and matching the IP addresses to your organization. Oracle has deployed a whole team of people in India that are contacting organizations worldwide with claims of non-compliant Java SE usage," the company said in a blog, referring to the runtime environment.

Big Red first introduced two new licensing models for its commercial Java platform, Standard Edition (Java SE), in April 2019 when it began charging license fees for previously free Java.

In January, Oracle, which acquired Java with its buyout of Sun Microsystems in 2009, said it had introduced a new "simple, low-cost monthly” Java SE Universal Subscription in a phased-in replacement for its per user or per processor model.

Most organizations adapting to Oracle's new licensing terms for Java expect the per-employee subscription model to be two to five times more expensive than the legacy model, Gartner estimated last year.

While most Oracle and Java users have become aware of the changes, those who have never dealt with Oracle for their applications, database or middleware software might be new to the arrangement.

"They don't have a relationship with Oracle. But Oracle has tracked Java SE downloads to their company. And then Oracle approached them saying 'We see that you've been downloading our Java SE product, it requires a licence.' This might be an email coming from a person that has an audit or similar title in their signature," said Nathan Biggs, House of Brick CEO.

He said organizations that have never worked with Oracle might not understand its approach to commercial negotiations.

"They start to freak out and they start to worry… they don't want to be out of compliance. Every customer we work with, earnestly wants to be in compliance with all of their licenses, and so they'll overshare information," he said.

For example, Oracle is likely to ask for the installation date and ask whether the customer also deploys on VMware.

But Oracle will be leading towards an "offer" to overlook earlier unlicensed software if they agree to sign up to the new subscription model, Biggs said.

Organizations should be careful before they take up the offer, he said. Users with legacy Oracle agreements face more than 100 percent — even 1,000 percent — cost increases when moving to the new terms. Bills going from tens of thousands of dollars to more than a million have been confirmed by multiple licensing specialists.

Biggs said organizations were also quickly uninstalling Oracle Java and using open-source alternatives for their runtime and development environments.

He said Oracle is entitled to ask for backdated payments for people already using Java since the paid-for deal was announced. But whether they should be forced to adopted the 2023 per employee arrangement is a moot point.

To start with, Oracle will limit the back-payment to three years. But it will also try to charge users under the Universal pricing arrangement introduced in January 2023.

"This is absurd because the universal pricing has only been around for a year. We always then push back on Oracle," he said.

Biggs said Oracle would usually reduce the fee to just one year of the universal model, or they will do one year of Universal plus pricing at the legacy pricing for the other two years.

The Register has offered Oracle the opportunity to respond. ®

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