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Oracle Java SE subscription change and potential audit risk

Submitted by stauffeg on Fri, 02/24/2023 - 10:09 AM

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. Purchasing a Java SE Universal Subscription using an email address will commit the campus to the new metric and may trigger an Oracle inquiry or audit if sufficient subscriptions are not purchased within a reasonable period. This would 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 exclusively for teaching and learning purposes. Students purchasing an Oracle Java SE subscription using an email address present the same risk as employees, but students using Oracle Java for personal use are able to download Java for free.

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