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InfoQ Homepage News Responding to Outcry, JetBrains Relaxes Licensing Terms

Responding to Outcry, JetBrains Relaxes Licensing Terms

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On September 3, JetBrains announced a shift in licensing terms for the majority of their products.  The maker of ReSharper, IntelliJ, and other popular tools indicated that starting November 2 perpetual licenses would no longer be available.  New users would have to purchase monthly or annual subscriptions to use JetBrains' products.

Based on the significant public outcry, JetBrains has now amended their previous stance by addressing two of the largest complaints:  a perpetual fallback license will be available to protect a developer's investment in their tools and there will be a method to use the software without requiring an Internet connection.

In their new announcement, JetBrains has summarized the new changes as follows:

  • We are moving forward with subscriptions with important adjustments.
  • You will receive a perpetual fallback license once you pay for a year up front or 12 consecutive months.
  • You will receive up to 40% discount for continuous subscription.
  • You will be able to use the software without an Internet connection.
  • Current customers with active or recently expired upgrade subscription get first two years of subscription for the price of one.

The perpetual fallback license is described by JetBrains as providing a “…specific version of software without [requiring] an active subscription for it.”  Note that the license only applies to the exact version of the product at the start of the twelve month license period; the version you were using at the end of the suscription is not included: but JetBrains says this was necessary in order to keep prices low. 

Using the JetBrains Account is the preferred method to manage software licenses, and the software will perform an Internet check by default. However, it will be possible to get a license key in the license management section of your JetBrains Account to use the software offline which should address offline/non-connected usage scenarios.

In the announcement, JetBrains’ Maxim Shafirov that adoption of the subscription model is due to the company’s need to fund product development for the long run as they will not be able to add new users (customers) indefinitely.  The theory is that the subscription model will allow new features to be developed that support current users while attracting new ones.

Community feedback has been more favorable to this round of changes.  While some lament the “fallback” nature of the perpetual license, the fact that it exists at all has pleased many users.  Reddit user “kirbyfan64sos” observes, “Despite the controversy, I'm glad JetBrains actually listened, while most places would have just ignored the customer feedback.”

For those users still dissatisfied, Shafirov does state these new revised terms are considered final and is not going to change.

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Community comments

  • Perpetual Fallback License - trickery

    by Reginald Bartram /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Even after this significant back-track this “perpetual fallback license” of JetBrains is a misleading oxymoron of an underhanded service. A cynical attempt to encourage renewal perhaps because the quality of the software upgrades alone will not be a strong enough drive for customers to renew in the future?
    I just purchased a “2 year-subscription” from JetBrains, only to find out after activating the license that it is not actually a 2 year subscription, it is really a 1 year subscription (in the classical sense of software subscription licenses) with a 1 year trial license. If I don’t renew at the end of year 2 I have to uninstall my latest version and go back to a version of 1 year prior.
    I would not treat my customers this way and I am shocked that JetBrains would treat theirs this way. I have supported JetBrains for many years but this really is underhanded and I'll think twice before buying JetBrains in the future.

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