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Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun

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Thought Java was ‘free’? Think again (and you owe us $$$ in 2017)

Oracle is massively ramping up audits of Java customers it claims are in breach of its licences – six years after it bought Sun Microsystems.

A growing number of Oracle customers and partners have been approached by Larry Ellison’s firm, which claims they are out of compliance on Java.

Oracle bought Java with Sun Microsystems in 2010 but only now is its License Management Services (LMS) division chasing down people for payment, we are told by people familiar with the matter.

The database giant is understood to have hired 20 individuals globally this year, whose sole job is the pursuit of businesses in breach of their Java licences.

In response, industry compliance specialists are themselves ramping up, hiring Java experts and expanding in anticipation of increased action from LMS in 2017 on Java. Huge sums of money are at stake, with customers on the hook for multiple tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The version of Java in contention is Java SE, with three paid flavours that range from $40 to $300 per named user and from $5,000 to $15,000 for a processor licence.

The Register has learned of one customer in the retail industry with 80,000 PCs that was informed by Oracle it was in breach of its Java agreement. Oracle apparently told another Java customer it owed $100,000 – but the bill was slashed to $30,000 upon challenge.

Experts are now advising extreme caution in downloading Java SE while those who’ve downloaded should review their use – and be prepared before LMS comes calling. Those gurus separately told The Reg of an upswing in customers seeking help on Java licensing having been contacted by LMS in the second half of 2016.

“Oracle has started marking this as an issue,” one expert told The Reg on condition of anonymity. Our source claimed there had been an upswing in enquiries in the last five months.