back to article Oracle files $7m copyright claim against NEC's US limb over 'unreported royalties' from database distribution

Oracle is seeking more than $7m in damages from long-time software partner NEC Corporation of America (NECAM) – a subsidiary of tech Japan-based tech giant NEC Corp – over a complaint about copyright and breach of contract. According to papers lodged yesterday with the US court in the Northern District of California, in …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


    when Larry pops his clogs, IF, and it is a VERY BIG IF, he were to end up in Heaven, St. Peter had better ensure that Heaven can pass an Oracle Audit. It is however doubtful that there will be any ex-Oracle Lawyers in that place for Larry to call upon

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: IF...

      If heaven is the kind of place that would include Litigation Larry in it's membership, I woll be opting for the opposite direction.

      Anyway! I'm tone deaf so harp playing is out and I'm not singing praises to anybody for the rest of eternity.

  2. Paul Herber Silver badge

    $7 million? I'm surprised Oracle lawyers can get themselves out of bed in the morning for a measly $7 million?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Pour encourager les autres.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Voltaire, is that you?

    2. Mikerahl

      I think they'll tack on legal fees later on (asking for "costs")

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      This must have been a litigation by the interns/new graduate intake at Oracle Legal department - just a bit of practical training for the big stuff later on

  3. FuzzyTheBear

    Only benefit ?

    Seems like the only benefit one has to do business with Oracle is the pleasure and privilege to get sued by Larry ..

    1. VTAMguy

      Re: Only benefit ?

      It used to be that Oracle was the go-to vendor if you had very large databases, and slick salesmen (for they were always men) in expensive suits would flit about having lunch and playing golf with the C-suite folks, but all that's in the past as there are other systems that can do pretty much everything that Oracle can do and for a lot less money and risk of strongman tactics, aka "audits". They appear to be left with suing their own customers and flogging their very strange cloud offering. These days, it could be very reasonable to conclude that Oracle is more of a risk than a benefit.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Only benefit ?

        They do still have some lovely technology.

        Sadly their business practices deter me from ever wanting to use it.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Only benefit ?

        aka "audits".

        The other organisation of which I have heard the term "audits" and cost in terms of money and ties to the organisation is the Church of Scientology.

        "The Church of Scientology[Oracle] is a group of interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology[Oracle Databases], which is variously defined as a cult, a business or a new religious movement."

        Oracle Legal - please note the icon --->

        ditto Scientology Legal

    2. Julz

      Re: Only benefit ?

      It's their Unique Selling Point ;)

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Only benefit ?

      Oracle, like IBM, are very expensive liabilties these days.

  4. foxyshadis

    What do you want to bet it was because one database VM was now capable of being vMotioned to a new server in the cluster with twice as many cores, even if it never had been? Oracle charges by the physical host cores, not the VM cores, after all. (Last I heard, at least; they also change their licensing every year to extract maximum fees.)

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Same old... Same Old


    How many times have we heard/seen the words

    "Oracle carried out an audit of [insert company/org name here] use and distribution of its database software."

    We all know what the result will be... A hefty bill for the org being audited. This is just SOP for Oracle.

    Even if at the last audit you got a clean bill of health, the next time you will be stiffed for loadsamoney even if your usage has not changed.

    This is all part of the cost of doing business with Oracle. It would not surprise me to learn that savvy Financial Directors have/are putting aside some money for the inevitable Oracle fines.

    Quite why companies continue to do business with this bunch of [redacted][redacted] barstewards is beyond me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s 2020

    FOSS databases and off the shelf hardware are all you need for your project.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: It’s 2020

      Sorry... but you seem to have missed a year. It is 2021.

      Back on topic.

      I once proposed a FOSS solution to a business. Not only was it cheaper as in zero cost but we could have the source as well. We ran benchmarks and the performance was just as good as Oracle.

      The FD put his foot down and they went with Big Red.

      19th Hole Rules and all that. Three years later got hit by the 'Oracle Audit' scam.

      Karma called big time.

      1. Plest Silver badge

        Re: It’s 2020

        An Oracle audit is alike a dose of herpes. Once you get it once, it never leaves you alone!

  7. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    It is interesting that those companies aren't diligent in the same way to ensure that people who actually developed this and other software are paid fairly.

    Even if they get whatever payment for those licenses, the workers will not see a penny from that.

    Maybe because developers seem to be soft, obedient, often on a spectrum and they can easily be put into place by bullying managers. I think such brutal extraction of value from such a brilliant minds is frankly horrific, especially because the general public does not feel any sympathy. "They make more than twice the median salary, that's more than enough!" Is it?

    1. Terje

      Re: Engineers

      Of course you can't pay people, how on earth would Larry be able to afford another gold plated mega yacht if he did?

  8. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Legacy product

    This is the main reason Oracle has been considered a legacy product in quite a few companies I have worked for.

    If you just use what is in the DDBB as you install it.. voila, your SW magically coverts from prof version to enterprise, etc etc.. just a single use of features (by mistake, etc) flips them into XX payment.

    Even if you do avoid those things, they will eventually change rules etc so you have to pay the most expensive version... so it is best to avoid Oracle altogether (including their Java distributions).

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Legacy product

      Including their Java, their VirtualBox, their MySQL. Don't get any of the poison on your hands.

      1. Plest Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Legacy product

        Go/Rust/Python, Kubernetes, Docker and PostgreSQL.


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next year

    My forecast:

    In 2022 Oracle start charging for machines that could potentially run their software

  10. Snowy Silver badge

    Rather quick to go to court

    Only 6 months from problem to taking them to court, seems rather quick to me. Would be darkly funny if all the have been sent to someone who is off sick with Covid

    Guess Oracle does not like talking to its customers, or rather it does but only via the courts.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It happens ...

    Worked for a company that merged with another back in the 90s. We took $6M hit when our own inventory of our new buddies revealed many unlicensed Oracle instances amongst other questionable software installations. The company we merged with was a blue chipper on the stock market and not some marginal affair. We contacted Oracle and cleaned things up without any fuss. Their sales team took credit for additional sales and the whole thing was paved over.

    Also was employed by NECAM for a few years. Not surprised they have trouble keeping track of things like Oracle installations.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When working with Oracle database, the customer has to know about licensing. It is just like with any other product. The problem with Oracle is that all the paid options are included with the database and there is no way to prevent the use of any paid option by mistake. Oracle does not have a product key.

    The use of all Oracle options, paid or free, in any database are recorded in the data dictionary. You cannot make any changes to it. The license audit queries this usage and will report on use of every option. The license compliance staff will find out which paid options you are using, how many times each option was used and when was an option last used (date and time of last usage).

    So, as a DBA if you want to test an option, say encryption or export compression, first make sure that it does not require a separate license. The license requirements are generally in the product documentation. If it does require license, then ask your manager or someone responsible if your purchase contract has paid for that option or not.

    If you do not have license for an option, but still want to test it, make sure you do the testing in a throwaway database. Test the option, drop the database. No problems. If you inadvertently use a paid option in a database, you have following options:

    a) Stop using the paid option immediately. Hopefully, in audit, you can make a case that paid option was used by mistake. The license compliance staff might look at last usage date and how many times the paid option was used and might decide to let it go for one time.

    b) Be prepared to export all the data from the database, create a new database and import data into it, drop the original database. Make sure you do not use the paid option in the new database. One of my friend works for a big financial group and they had to resort to export/import/drop.

    c) Sometimes, it is possible to negotiate with Oracle. In my case, I found that users had created tables with compression which required license for Advance Compression. We did not have that license. Oracle asked if we can drop these tables and re-run audit. Since the tables were created for testing, I was able to drop these tables and Oracle let it go. But, we give Oracle several million dollars worth of business every year, so that might have played a part in it.

    Oracle VM license requirements are bit shady and they did catch me by surprise when I learned that with VMWare, Oracle must be licensed for number of CPUs in the VM host and not only for the CPUs used in the VMs on which Oracle was running. That was more than a decade ago. Oracle has this concept of hard partitioning and soft partitioning of VMs. For soft partitioned VMs, you have to buy license for entire host. Oracle has their own VM product which creates hard partitioned VMs. In that case, you do need licenses only for the VMs on which Oracle is running. IMHO, this is anti-competitive, but private companies are free to make their own rules, heck they can write their own constitution...

    You can carry out your own license audit periodically. You do not have to engage Oracle to do that. You need only good DBAs. Unfortunately, most places do not care about licensing. Maybe they do not understand how Oracle licensing works or they do not care. Whatever is the reason, I have seen that Oracle will let things slide if the usage is inadvertent and you have stopped using the paid option. However, if you continue to use it and do not pay for it, then you will have a problem.

    Here is an anecdote. I once purchased MS Office license key online. It was very cheap. I downloaded MS Office from Microsoft's own website, entered the key and it worked fine. So, I assumed that it was genuine, just like the seller had said. Never had a problem with MS Office updates. Then, one day, I got a new laptop. I tried to transfer the key from original laptop to the new one. It would not work. So, I called Microsoft support and they said that the license key had a problem. I forget the specific details, but they refused to help. Told me to contact the key vendor who had conveniently disappeared. Point is that license is enforced by every vendor, not just Oracle. With Oracle, the product being an enterprise level database, the costs are high and make it to the headlines.

    1. foxyshadis

      It's almost guaranteed the Microsoft key was valid at the time it was sold to you. It was probably a MAK key from a volume license, likely a non-profit since those are even cheaper; Microsoft gives them out in blocks of 500 even if you only need 5, to ensure reactivations aren't a burden -- so the resale of them is rampant. They're cycled every three years.

      And that's just for legit small businesses and charities, not just ones chartered solely for the purpose of opening up licensing without paying more than pennies upfront. Microsoft shuts those down more proactively, but it's still not uncommon for outright scam keys to stay valid for at least a year.

      Anything key you find on eBay is one of those two.

  13. Lee D

    People still use Oracle?

    More fool them.

    Isn't their entire business model being to make licensing as difficult and obtuse as possible hoping to trap you in an audit?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's over.

    Someone who's had a 25 year career with Oracle software, this is Oracle throwing yet another fit and making sure the next generation of technologists go nowhere near their software. I've been learning to use the FOSS alternatives for the last 3 years and encrouaging others to do same. Oracle can see the end has just come over the horizon but they're in complete denial.

    I've been through an severe Oracle audit and having a colonoscopy would be much more fun. Once you're on Oracle's books as an "audit risk" you will never be left alone, they will check up on you every chance they get. If you have the option, go SQL Server or better still MySQL, PostgreSQL or even NoSQL if that's suitable but as a 25 year veteran I can't in all conscience advise anyone to buy into "Larry's Mafia" any longer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's over.

      If you do not understand Oracle's licensing policies, then I can safely say that you have wasted 25 years of your professional life.

      Do you understand SQL Server's licensing policies?

      I don't know why The Register likes to bash Oracle? Anything that Oracle does is a news. What about Microsoft? Are they handing out SQL Server for free? This is just yellow journalism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's over.

        Because Oracle is a big legacy software company that doesnt change with the times. And most Tech people didnt get into IT to study licencing agreements. Thats Legal's job.

        There will allways be dubious people who knowingly install software illegally but the obfuscation of licencing fees and terms, and the lack of anything to stop you tripping over them is legendary among people who have used oracle, and its far too easy to do it accidentally. Its like they are deliberately trying to catch you out.

        If i want to buy a copy of SQL server and 10 CALs, i know i can pay XXXX (I think its around 2 grand) and thats the end of it. Once its setup, If i try to connect to it with more than 10 clients, it wont let you. Or if you set it up per core to use, say, 24 cores, it will use 24 cores.

        No features you can install "Accidentally".

        No having to deal with a shitty installer that feels like it was designed by someone as part of their "Teach yourself Java" course.

        And lets not get onto the amout of DBA Administration it requires....

        And lets not forget what they just did with Java....

        Frankly anyone starting a new project with Oracle server is an idiot.

  15. disgruntled yank


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