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Clarifications about Oracle Java SE subscription change

Submitted by stauffeg on

Since originally sharing information about Oracle’s change to Java SE subscriptions, OIT’s Software Asset Management team has learned more about how specific Java versions are affected. That information, along with references where you can learn more about this subscription change, are included at the end of this article.

Effective January 23, 2023, Oracle changed the license metric for Java SE subscriptions from per-user to per-employee and changed the product name from "Java SE Subscription" to "Java SE Universal Subscription." 

The significance of this change, and the potential risk to the university, is that per-employee is defined as all employees regardless of whether an employee uses the product. Employees or students purchasing a Java SE Universal Subscription using an email address may commit the campus to the new metric and trigger an Oracle inquiry or audit if sufficient subscriptions are not purchased within a reasonable period. This could put CU Boulder on the hook for over 10,000 subscriptions.

To be clear, these changes relate to paid Oracle Java SE subscription and excludes free Java downloads and installations that are used for personal use, including classroom work. We recommend that employees and students who download or purchase Java for personal use, use a personal email address.

For existing subscribers, the Java FAQs state that you may renew your subscription under the legacy per-user metric. However, OIT strongly recommends that you carefully review all documents and links related to renewals to ensure this is the case. Oracle's alternative to a new subscription is to convert any existing application binaries to Oracle's free OpenJDK before your existing subscription expires. However, this may be a good time to seek other options such as Python, PHP, or Azul Zula, etc.

If you have questions or request assistance with a license renewal, you can contact OIT’s Software Asset Management team by emailing



•    Oracle Java SE Universal Subscription FAQ
•    Oracle Java SE Licensing FAQ (legacy)

Summary of Oracle Java licensing
  • Versions 1-8 (pre 211 security update – prior to April 2019) 
    • Binary Code License
      • Free to use unless one of the following Commercial Features is used:
        • Java Enterprise (MSI) installer
        • Java Flight Recorder
        • Java Mission Control
        • Java SE Runtime environment Usage Tracking
        • Java Advanced Management Console
        • Jrocket Mission Control, Flight Recorder, or Real time Deterministic GC
  • Versions 1-8 (post 211 security update) or 9-16
  • Versions 17+
    • Oracle No-Fee Terms and Condition (NFTC)
    • Free to use for all purposes
    • Separately downloaded and separately licensed Java SE Subscription product features such as Java Management Service, Advanced Management Console and GraalVM Enterprise are not available under the NFTC and must be licensed separately and/or with a Java SE Universal Subscription and/or legacy Java SE Subscription.