Audit, Licensing,

Can we download and use Oracle software for free?

Short Answer

Yes! Oracle states publicly at that full versions of its software are available for free.

In-Depth Answer

Oracle’s long-standing sales strategy has been to put its software in the hands of developers and students at no cost. The original thought (back in the 1980s) was that entry-level familiarity with Oracle’s database would mature its way into paying corporate customers. The approach has been successful, and Oracle’s database remains available online without license keys alongside WebLogic and other acquisitions.

The license terms that govern these “free” downloads are within the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) License Agreement. Before clicking the “I reviewed and accept the Oracle License Agreement,” however, consider it exceedingly unlikely that how you intend to use the software actually qualifies as free. The only applicable case would be for prototyping a solution that has not been deployed in production. Unlike the 80s and 90s, there are many options on which to prototype an application.

Customers often ask us if Oracle is free for development purposes based on the OTN agreement. We have rarely, if ever, answered “yes” to this question. This dynamic feels like a trap to most customers since Oracle tracks download activity and the OTN terms grant Oracle audit rights. Note that the free development software granted to Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) members is a separate matter. These use rights have (also) become a rarity as publishers shift from on-premise to SaaS, at which point, development software must be licensed outside of OPN.

Moreover, Oracle software has no built-in technical restrictions. The database software downloadable from OTN is the same that is deployed in mission critical enterprise environments. WebLogic is equally permissive. In both cases, its not what you install, its how you use the software that creates the license requirement.

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