java licensing

The Java NFTC License Agreement

Java NFTC License Agreement

  • Free Use: Allows end customers to use Java for free.
  • Non-Commercial Use: Permits personal, development, and internal business applications without licensing fees.
  • Distribution Restriction: Prohibits free redistribution of Java binaries.
  • Commercial License Needed: Required for distributing Java as part of commercial products.
  • Exceptions: Free if deployed on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure or as part of another Oracle product.

The Java NFTC (No-Fee Terms and Conditions) Agreement represents a significant aspect of Oracle’s licensing terms for Java.

This agreement allows end users to utilize Java for free but has specific limitations, particularly regarding distribution.

This article will provide an in-depth look at the Java NFTC Agreement, its provisions, benefits, and restrictions, ensuring clarity and understanding for all Java users.

Overview of the Java NFTC Agreement

Overview of the Java NFTC Agreement

The Java NFTC Agreement permits end customers to use Java without incurring licensing fees, making It accessible for various personal and business applications.

However, the agreement restricts the distribution of Java, meaning that while end users can use Java freely, they cannot redistribute it to others without adhering to specific licensing terms.

Key Provisions of the Java NFTC Agreement

  1. Free Use for End Customers:
    • The primary feature of the NFTC Agreement is that it allows end customers to use Java for free. This includes various uses, from running Java applications to personal development projects.
  2. Restriction on Distribution:
    • While the agreement allows free use, it strictly prohibits the free distribution of Java. This means businesses and individuals cannot redistribute Java binaries or modified versions without obtaining the appropriate licenses from Oracle.
  3. Applicability:
    • The NFTC Agreement applies to all versions of Java SE that fall under its terms. This ensures that end customers using these versions do not need to worry about licensing fees.
  4. Commercial Use:
    • Although the agreement allows free use, it does not extend to commercial distribution. Any commercial use that distributes Java to third parties requires a separate commercial license.

Benefits of the Java NFTC Agreement

  1. Cost Savings:
    • The most significant benefit for end customers is cost savings. Java’s lack of licensing fees makes it an attractive option for personal projects, learning, and development.
  2. Ease of Use:
    • The agreement simplifies Java use for end customers. Eliminating the need for complex licensing arrangements for non-distributive uses encourages more widespread adoption of Java.
  3. Accessibility:
    • By providing Java for free under the NFTC Agreement, Oracle ensures that developers, students, and hobbyists can access a powerful programming language and runtime environment without financial barriers.

Restrictions and Considerations

  1. No Free Distribution:
    • The most critical restriction under the NFTC Agreement is the prohibition of free distribution. Users cannot share Java binaries or modified versions with others unless they comply with Oracle’s licensing terms. This restriction ensures that Oracle maintains control over the distribution and usage of Java, preventing unauthorized commercial use.
  2. Commercial Distribution:
    • Any form of commercial distribution requires a separate license. Bundling Java with commercial software or hardware products requires negotiating a commercial license with Oracle.
  3. Compliance Requirements:
    • Users must adhere to the compliance requirements outlined in the NFTC Agreement. This includes ensuring that Java is used by the terms and not distributed in a manner that violates the agreement.

Practical Implications of the NFTC Agreement

To better understand the practical implications of the NFTC Agreement, consider the following scenarios:

  1. Personal Use:
    • A software developer working on a personal project can use Java under the NFTC Agreement without worrying about licensing fees. This includes writing, testing, and running Java applications on their devices.
  2. Educational Use:
    • Educational institutions can utilize Java for teaching purposes. Students can install and use Java on their computers for coursework and projects, benefiting from free access to the language and runtime environment.
  3. Internal Business Applications:
    • A business can use Java internally to develop and run applications supporting its operations. As long as Java is not redistributed outside the organization or used in commercial products sold to third parties, it falls under the free-use provision of the NFTC Agreement.
  4. Commercial Products:
    • A company that wishes to include Java in its commercial software product must obtain a commercial license from Oracle. This is because the distribution of Java as part of a commercial product falls outside the scope of the NFTC Agreement.

Java NFTC vs. Other Java License Agreements

Java NFTC vs. Other Java License Agreements

The NFTC Agreement is one of several licensing options Oracle provides for Java. Understanding how it compares to other licenses is crucial for making informed decisions:

  1. Java SE Subscription:
    • The Java SE Subscription provides access to commercial features, updates, and support. It is suitable for organizations that require comprehensive support and wish to use advanced Java features.
  2. Java OTN License:
    • The Oracle Java Technology Network (OTN) License allows free development, testing, and personal use but requires a commercial license for production use. Unlike the NFTC Agreement, it explicitly covers development and testing without commercial distribution.
  3. OpenJDK:
    • OpenJDK is an open-source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition. It is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and can be used commercially. However, it does not include the commercial features and support provided by Oracle.

Compliance and Best Practices

To ensure compliance with the Java NFTC Agreement, users should adopt the following best practices:

  1. Understand Licensing Terms:
    • Review the NFTC Agreement’s terms thoroughly to understand Java’s limitations and permitted uses.
  2. Avoid Unauthorized Distribution:
    • Do not distribute Java binaries or modified versions without obtaining the necessary licenses. This includes sharing Java with partners, customers, or third parties.
  3. Monitor Usage:
    • Monitor Java usage within your organization regularly to ensure compliance with the NFTC Agreement. Keep records of how Java is used and ensure all users know the licensing terms.
  4. Consult with Oracle:
    • If there are any uncertainties regarding the use or distribution of Java, consult with Oracle or a licensing expert. This can help clarify any ambiguities and prevent unintentional violations.


The Java NFTC Agreement offers significant benefits by allowing end customers to use Java for free while placing restrictions on distribution.

Understanding these terms is essential for developers, businesses, and educational institutions to leverage Java effectively without incurring licensing fees.

By adhering to the provisions of the NFTC Agreement and avoiding unauthorized distribution, users can enjoy Java’s full benefits while ensuring compliance with Oracle’s licensing requirements.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.

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