I am aware of the new commercial licensing model for Oracle JDK. I also have operational experience with OpenJDK and Oracle JDK.

I have tried to find conclusive evidence that Open JDK can and must always remain free. I see that Open JDK is a trademark owned by Oracle.

Can someone please refute the possibility (risk) that the Open JDK licensed might be changed to a commercial license? Any pointers to legal paragraphs in the Open JDK license agreement or similar would be a great help.

  • 1
    Oracle JDK is almost exactly OpenJDK with a commercial license. A different question is whether an existing GPL license for some version can be revoked later. This is both highly jurisdiction-dependent and not totally clear (no precedent available).
    – amon
    May 9, 2019 at 10:47
  • When you say jurisdiction-dependent, do you consider different US states as well as different countries? May 9, 2019 at 11:13
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    Countries. There is a legal theory that the GPL fails to satisfy the characteristics of a contract under US law, so that it is a bare license or a failed contract which can be freely revoked. (I wouldn't know, I'm not from there). Many copyright laws also have explicit provisions for revocation. To date, no one has seriously tried to revoke a GPL so this is all very hypothetical.
    – amon
    May 9, 2019 at 12:07
  • Can you please add a link to that (US) legal theory? May 9, 2019 at 13:51
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    The only one I know seriously arguing for revocability is a crackpot, I won't link them. However, GPL is a license, not a contract is more widely argued, although it might no longer represent judicial practice.
    – amon
    May 9, 2019 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


It's just whatever the people writing the code agree to. If the people who wrote the code that falls under than license and the people who administer the license want to change it they can.

You just can't change the license on someone's code without their permission is the caveat.

  • Take a look at this: openjdk.java.net/legal/tou/terms . This is a legal contract created by Oracle. Two paragraphs from section 4 are: "Rights Granted Under the GPL" and "Code and Technology Specification Submissions. You hereby grant to Oracle a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, ... sub-licensable right .. to reproduce, .. create derivative works. - I understand this as Oracle -could- use GPL code, modify it and then include it in Oracle JDK. If Oracle would remove development support for the Open JDK, what happens with its production usefulness? May 25, 2019 at 8:57
  • Well the changes would be for future versions of Java.
    – Putvi
    May 28, 2019 at 16:08
  • That is true, yet with EOL reached for older versions of a JDK, I argue that corporate usage of Java would be pushed towards newer (and potentially commercial) licenses of a JDK. May 29, 2019 at 10:08
  • @PdC yeah corporations would probably upgrade, but that is their choice I guess.
    – Putvi
    May 29, 2019 at 17:05

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