Guys, Blender might NOT be FREE forever


It’s kind of bizarre to me that out of everything/anything I posted anyone could come away with the notion that I implied or outright posted a potential future commercial Blender corporation was going to digitally crawl into our computers and steal our copies of Blender 2.8x. I don’t think I implied that.

I do still question the long term legal sure footing of being able to redistribute free software after the group that the original license agreement was issued to leaves the licensing agreement and the free software sector altogether. It could be an issue where there’s just not a legal precedent for something like that. A “license” by it’s very nature is a temporary legal structure and not a permanent transfer of ownership.

There’s an old and wise saying in the US, “POSESSION is 9/10 of the law”, so if the Blender Foundation could prove that they “possess” the code/application, maybe not that hard even with all the free help over the years, there could be a problem with the permanent GPL redistribution status in general IF Blender ever went that way.

It’s also possible that since most if not all abandoned software eventually dies and either companies or individuals move on to work on proprietary software maybe none have pursued any legal action to challenge the legality of re-distribution to save costs.

The other thing is that I don’t know that the Redhat business model would work for any 3D DCC application long term. Only large studios really need that kind of A+ support where a company like Blender/AutoDesk might code custom solutions that eventually might filter down into the next formal release of the software for the general content creator. Even then it’s just as likely studios would develop solutions internally. Content creators, software, companies and most importantly workflows have matured to the point where a lot of the kind of customization of an application as support that was critical like 10-12 years ago isn’t really needed as much anymore.

Most people/companies wouldn’t attempt to justify the cost of support if the service associated with it wasn’t being used much. If the experienced user and available software wasn’t that mature for several years already I don’t think Blender could even be at a point today that it’s an option as a tool for some professionals. That’s been the main problem with Autodesk, their apps and their balance sheet…too many content creators dead ended their cash going to AutoDesk after a couple of versions.

Rather then making the application cheaper and/or adopting a “Substance Live” like monthly payment scheme that lead to tool ownership (recently deprecated in favor of permanent “Rental Only” subscriptions by Adobe) AutoDesk went the “Rental Only” route.

Lowering the price to $600-$900 and having a “Payment to Own” option with payments on a sliding scale as low as $10 per month up to full price, with no interest, on a locked price for individual licenses would net triple or quadruple the number of customers they currently have making up for the reduction in price. AutoDesk could then “reset” with the next gen license starting over with the same plan every three years or so. I would recommend this for any company making DCC apps because most end users don’t expect free or even cheap software, but they do expect fairness from companies that choose to partner with them in the process of advancing the development and application of computer generated imagery.

At this point the relatively few contributors compared to the size of the userbase that are paying for Blender to continue to move forward is a problem that’s going to be a roadblock to Blender at some point because most likely more then few of them have conflicting interests which will put blender in the crosshairs of the companies at some point even if only temporarily which has happened with all the other companies that operate into this space at one point or another. The commercial companies have always had their paying customers to fall back on to remain autonamous. With Blender the loss of any significant number of major contributors that is a minuscule would likely cripple Blender or slow it’s development to an unbearable crawl.

I would love to have a conversation with Ton. There’s understandably a lot of infrastructure that will delay that from happening so it’s probably going to take a while.


Hey, I just read this, thought I’d post it here :slight_smile: :


Yeah it kind of sucks the Microsoft owns GitHub now and is likely using it as a smorgasbord upon which to Frankenstein their next set of software tools for sale if/when their services significantly slow or stop making money for them…or much much sooner.


And would you say that LINUX development over the last THREE decades or so has been “snail-paced”? :slight_smile:

If “no”, then it’s obvious that there’s nothing wrong with the model - “weekend warriors” CAN accomplish a lot :slight_smile: If Blender is messing up somewhere, why then, they just need to do what the Linux people are doing (or DID). The precedent is already there for them! :slight_smile:


This is a foible of a lot of overzealous blender users and ultimately the example is just a false equivalent comparison trotted out that makes no sense.

An operating system with thousands of applications and millions of users plus millions of coders with a vested interest in not only getting whatever apps they need specifically running properly and maintaining a level of sync in interoperability between some applications, but also maintaining network preparedness in a dynamic industry of constantly shifting hardware and software requirements is so far away from a single application project that can run on that OS and other OS’ with an infinitesimally smaller community then an OS it’s pretty absurd to even make the comparison.


I think there are people thinking the same people who wrote blender will just write new code that does the same thing but isn’t GPL. Let’s count how many times in the past that has worked without a hitch. Truespace did a re-write and never made it to a final merged version. Then there was the whole thing with Lightwave Core. Did that ever even happen or did they go back to the original code-base at some point?

But I still don’t get why blender’s license seems to have such a bearing on its plug-ins. Why can’t they be put out under any license the author prefers?


I know a few companies that managed a complete rewrite. So it is not impossible. But you don’t need to rewrite everything for a relicensing. Just the parts where you cannot get a permission (in case you even ask, and don’t consider the quiet voices as a yes like Blender did with the manual from OCL to CC0 and the relicensing from GPL2+ to GPL3 ). DivX was formerly open source for example. Now it’s closed source.

For the addons, that’s because GPL is a poisoneous license. Addons are considered as a derivate work since they uses the Blender API. And they don’t run by themselves, not standalone. They always requires Blender to run and execute the script. And so the GPL takes over here. Wordpress has the same problem with its plugins.

Addons does not need to be GPL explicitely, you can also use a GPL compatible license. Cycles is under Apache license for example. That’s how it made it to Cinema4D. GPL would not have worked. But it has to be a GPL compatible copyleft license. And one of the requirements for the Blender market is GPL code. So when you want to sell your addon at Blender Market, then you need to use GPL.


This thread is going on for a MONTH and Blender… is still free. I bet the doomsayers, Blender will still be free by January 2020 when I will post again.


No one ever said it would happen in days, weeks or months. I suspect there won’t be a question on the part of the Blender Foundation about changing the license of Blender for a couple of years myself.

It will likely happen once a handful of relationships with significant contributors goes south based on them wanting to force Blender down a certain developmental path at a crucial time when the BF is about to hire a bunch of new people and the BF, wanting to maintain autonomy in their development, will be forced to re-evaluate their licensing structure to be able to afford to do what it is they’ve been planning for the future at some point in the future.

A lot of these partnerships are new, they haven’t been tested, so it’s obviously going to take time. This is the kind of contentious group dynamic that develops very often between most software and tech companies all the time, if you think it won’t happen with Blender eventually you’re just being unrealistic.


In some ways it has : the kernel has been very slow adopting several key security features (randomized memory layout springs to mind), out-of-the-box installation is still very poor in many distros, graphics driver UMD/KMD, audio in general is a mess, native video codecs & playback, Vulkan is a horrible hot mess, …

As pointed above though, Linux is not a good analogy: most of the work is coming from full-time expert devs, and this is mostly possible with the service monetization models that RedHat & others pioneered.


Im not unrealistic, I dont see the point of worrying about the future, but instead using the tools I have right now, free or not. When said tools are unavailable I will complain about it ( example: Softimage)

165 posts of theorycraft that may or may not even happen is beyond pointless.


Is there really no way that closed source plug-ins could be released commercially? What if the API were rewritten and released under Apache? I’d heard that GPL was infectious but didn’t realize the full extent of the problem.


Any plug-in working with static or dynamic linking would be breaking the license. I would have to re-read the license, but i think the restrictions also cover shared memory. Running a separate process & communicate with an open port, might work, but it probably would be considered to be violating the spirit & hasn’t been tested in courts yet AFAIk.

They aren’t called ‘viral’ licenses for nothing…

AFAIK Wordpress plugins work around this by providing cloud-based services through subscriptions (ex. Woo e-commerce platform).

The other viable solution is to run the GPL code on a remote server (ex. GPL game running on Stadia)


Relicensing the API would imho not work, since it directly touches and uses GPL code and is the GPL code. It is not to separate. You would need to relicense Blender for that.

There is rarely a way around GPL once it is in the chain. That’s why most professionals keeps their hands away from GPL code.


That is not that “might” work, that’s one of the situations that actually work.

In the license they talk about “intimate communication” as the thing that makes the apps to be considered as a single app, and that means sharing memory, at least sharing complex data structures in memory, something specific from Blender to a closed source app.

Other solution is to use a “bridge” that is compatible with closed source, that part of the app, the bridge, must be open source and licensed under a compatible license that won’t be affected by the GPL, Apache or MIT, and that’s the part that can communicate with the GPL app, then that part must modify the data into something different that will be then communicated through memory to the closed source app, but it must not be the same data structure that was generated in the original app.

There are many ways to mix closed and GPL open source, devs must work a bit more but they also have to stop complaining because things are not as easy as with the Autodesk SDK, where the effort is put by the users by giving their privacy to Autodesk.

And I still read some questions about “what if… blender goes behind a paywall under some weird situation like a full rewrite…” well… have any of you, that fear this so much, wrote to Ton and asked him directly about this possibility and the envisioned future for Blender? and about what he meant with the business part and all those things?

I understand no one asks to any Autodesk responsible person because they simply won’t answer or will answer with the “we are a publicly traded company and we cannot speak about the future”, but you can write Ton whenever you want and ask all this. As I said before, please make the answer public :slight_smile:


That’s where things get sticky : there is a legit use case (ex. a closed source client connecting to a GPL app running on a server ; ex. billions of sqlite web servers) and there is malicious circumvention, which can definitely be challenged in courts. I am not aware of a precedent, so maybe there is hope. Or maybe no one thought it was worth taking the risk yet.


When you have to jump through a series of hoops to even know if you’re allowed to solve a problem in a software development cycle you should know it’s time to make some major foundational changes.


Well, that is IF you are interested in a closed source ecosystem of plugins, which it has been already stated by Ton and the Blender Institute they are not, they prefer to avoid having closed source addons of any kind so… no, the don’t need to make any foundational changes because they are not interested in this, as clear as that :slight_smile:

No one said that the server has to be remote, a server is a server, and in any case, the solution I said it’s not a server based solution, but a compatible bridge solution that is perfectly compatible with the GPL because there is no intimate communication between the API (GPL) part with any closed source part, in fact is in communication with an open source part, and that part can communicate itself with any closed source part because it’s license is compatible in both ways, that’s it, as long as you don’t use the exact same data structures and you interchange and handle them inside the Apache/MIT bridge, there is nothing that breaks the GPL.

It’s not so hard and there are not so many hoops, in the Autodesk license/EULA case the users are the one that have to jump through hoops and accept clauses that in many cases they don’t even read.

Please can any of you tell me why “Radeon Pro Render” is perfectly compatible with GPL?


Server, bridge or whatever : not the point. Point is : if you try to circumvent the license by engineering contorted schemes such as a localhost loop, you could still open yourself to a challenge.


It is not circumventing the license, the license does not explicitly prohibit to use GPL software with closed source software.

The cases are clear, the license affects the software when they are considered to be ONE ONLY program, IF they are considered TWO separated programs then nothing happens, and this is not circumventing, it’s just making two separated programs, that’s it.

Socket communication is allowed and other ways are allowed, like using a file in the hard drive.

Server is a thing, bridge is a different thing, a file in the disk is a different thing, those are valid ways, not “tricky” ways, those are ways to respect the GPL and at the same time being able to use a closed source piece of software in conjunction with GPL.

And the question remains unanswered, please can any of you tell me why “Radeon Pro Render” is perfectly compatible with GPL?