Guys, Blender might NOT be FREE forever


The reality of the commercial world is that legally you can ONLY sue for damages if you lost money. If Nvidia or multiple companies move to explicitly cripple Blender (Microsoft, Apple, Nvidia, AMD, Autodesk etc.) Blender specific “bombs” will most definitely be on the menu at some point. The Blender Foundation can’t sue these companies for “not playing fair.” Let’s be honest DCC touches a lot of multi-billion dollar industries backed by commercial entities that have hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. One way or another Blender will hit a buzzsaw in the commercial environment users are attempting to pull it further into. That’s a reality every Blender user is going to have to come to grips with.

The fact of the matter is that short term Blender may serve Nvidia or whatever other corporation’s purposes, but long term they are commercial companies that survive by maintaining strategic partnerships with other commercial companies and if they are left out of that loop for too long a period of time, standards (OS, APIs, etc.) are developed away from their products and none of those commercial companies want that. Also, even though all of the tools you mentioned are developmentally ahead of blender, the creative consumer market is beginning to accept tools that are just good enough rather then picking the best tool if consumers believe that the licensing scheme of the “best tool” is unfair to them. The success of ProCreate, The Affinity Tools as well as DaVinci Resolve, FCPX, and even the resurrecting Avid Media Composer is proof (Over Adobe subscriptions). There’s a lot more that confirm creatives in large numbers moving away from “Rental Only” tools and that’s actually also a silver liner for Blender going commercial actually.

Nvidia is not as powerful as some people think as they are getting hammered on all sides and feeling the heat of the larger consumer markets utilizing non-Nvidia hardware moving ever further into their territories. AMD has better fabbing processes on a longer roadmap and more large customers like Playstation and Xbox then Nvidia who Intel is in the same battle with actually. Intel is also starting to feel the heat from other technologies from other markets moving in on them. Apple is using it’s heavy weight of influence from the phone tech plus hundreds of thousands of developers and millions of mobile game customers and expanding their APIs to replace CUDA and displace it from many markets outside mobile. These are the kinds of “non-dirty” completely legal tactics commercial companies have and employ against other commercial companies…working against Blender they have no limitations. Again Blender could only sue them for making computing environments hostile to Blender IF Blender was losing money because of it.

The idea that instead of becoming a commercial entity offering a robust tool to a large vested community for a fair price and having access to all the legal tools necessary to stop the forthcoming Gorilla assault of Blender the the Blender Foundation would instead essentially choose to allow the software they’ve put blood sweat and tears into for well over a decade to essentially die, then have the founders disband and ultimately go to work for the same commercial companies that killed Blender, to support themselves and their families financially, just seems very foolish from my perspective.


So…are the people claiming the imminent collapse/commercialization of Blender because it’s open source completely unaware of the existence and importance of Linux? Because it sure seems like that’s the case.


IMHO all these are unfunded fears, there are no objective reasons to have those fears, but whoever wants to have fears can have fears, there is no point on talking about it anymore, everything is over speculation without any proof or real facts about that dark future.

Fears are on both sides of the fence, for example who thought that Softimage, one of the kings of the hill, was going to be discontinued? and who thinks now that Max and Maya are going to be forced to diverge more and more up to a point that Max won’t be useful for the same tasks as maya and vice-versa, and I think this latest possible future is way more possible than that dark blender future, but who knows.

Good point @Meloncov


Blender for Linux still needs Nvidia or AMD video cards and those companies already keep Linux development as a low priority. These are large companies that employ hundreds to thousands of employees, crippling blender in software to protect their financial interests, for them, would be equal to swatting a fly for them on their effort scale.


Are you sure that Linux is a low priority for them?

Because all big studios work with linux in many of their workstation, in fact Linux is the official supported OS in the VFX standards, an old version of CENTOS, if they have such a big interest I don’t think Linux is so low priority as you may think.

And again, what I see there is fear, trying to imagine how those big companies may or may not behave, nothing more, speculations based on assumptions without actual information IMO.


I couldn’t disagree more.

Had I said the AutoDesk would sell the Media and Entertainment division to another large company and that company would somehow convince Ton and the rest of the Blender Foundation that pulling Blender from the GNU/GPL an then selling the code to them would be the best option for the future that would be unfounded, outlandish, even if remotely possible. What I’m talking about is simple survival if Blender continues down the path they are currently on.


Yeah, I’m sure…

Even with the number of studios standardized on Linux, every studio isn’t. In the grand scheme of things it still represents a minuscule number of GPU sales to them annually.


So you think that Sony Animation, Pixar, and others in the same fashion are not important to them.

Anyways, I cannot agree in what regards to DCC’s, we use Linux as our main OS, we have windows as a secondary OS because sadly there are programs that we cannot replace, but 90% of our time we are working under linux, and that’s not because we want to suffer linux, but because we get way better performance in general, of course our drivers for the GPU’s are the private ones directly from Nvidia, and they are updated more or less at the smae pace of the windows counterpart so, I don’t agree with you, but that’s an opinion :slight_smile:

Now this makes no sense at all, what you are saying it’s impossible, as simple as that, that is not possible, Ton or the Blender Institute is not the owner of Blender, they CANNOT change the license at their will or interest, even if Ton gets mad, he can do nothing about this, and this is not an opinion, so please, stop spreading that theory becuase it’s simply not possible.

Blender can’t and won’t change it’s license, no matter how, it’s not up to the Blender Institute to change the license of Blender and there are A TON of persons involver, it’s impossible to remove all the patches of all the people outside of the Blender Institute, so it’s IMPOSSIBLE to change the Blender license, your fear is totally unfounded.


Fascinating Thread - very heated and passionate :slight_smile: - didn’t they always say at Facebook it would always be completely free, even from advertising etc? :slight_smile:

It’s an incredible piece of software from what I can see / have heard and can easily compete with 3DS Max / Maya / Cinema 4D.

It’s great that it always prides itself on being free but personally I think they deserve to make more money as developers. And along with offering support services and maybe charging bigger companies a small fee - on top of donations I hope they’re being rewarded for great work.


I haven’t read the full thread yet, but there is nothing to stop Blender from charging for their software if they wanted to as long as the money goes directly into development. They could fork Blender to have some non-open source code features that they charge for if they wanted to for a non-free verison.

For example, they could create a cloud-AI processing service feature that requires users to pay for if they want to utilize cloud AI processing. Nvidia for example is slowing becoming an AI cloud company…so just consider that Blender tapping into Nvidia’s infrastructure may not be free even though the rest of Blender is free.

Blender being a non-profit organization means money doesn’t go towards a CEO’s paycheck bonus or stock options like a for-profit company might award their staff with. I’m sure Blender will always offer a free version or at the very least, someone can take the open-source code and continue to distribute a free version.


That’s not possible and not the target, when they mean free, is free for everyone not just for some, no matter if they are big or small, free means free, in freedom and cost in the case of Blender, and for EVERYONE :slight_smile:

No they cannot, there are several things, for starters the main directive that made Blender open source, it MUST be free, that’s what the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute conserve.
Second, no, they cannot fork blender and charge for a non-free version, Blender is under GPL, which means that anything that is inside Blender must be licenses compatible, if it’s not GPL, it must be Apache or MIT, so anything inside Blender must be open source no matter what, can they legally charge for the software? yes, they can, will they? nope, that’s what the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute are for, to conserve Blender as free software in both meanings (free as non-paid and free as in freedom)

Blender does not connect to the internet, and won’t connect to the internet, so no cloud processing there. An addon CAN connect to the internet, but always under the clear pre-agreement of the user and with specific purposes, and the addon must still be GPL.

The very existance of the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute is to maintain Blender free in both meanings (again), being a non-profit don’t mean just that, they MUST comply with some things and purposes or the non-profit would be dismantled

It seems that people don’t really understand how Blender works and how it’s development goes, and what the Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute are for, and what are their directives.

Please stop making future invention based on how Autodesk or other companies behave, Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute are not Autodesk or anything similar, and Blender is not create just by them, or controlled just by them.


Non-profit is a distraction in this discussion - it just means there are no shareholders to skim profits that could be reinvested into development. Considering there have been no revenue to speak of, i don’t think you will have to worry about an IPO any time soon.

The real lynchpin here is the GPL 2.0 license: it makes it impossible to derive any closed source product from the software (search for ‘GNU Public Virus’). This makes deriving any kind of direct monetization to pay your devs very difficult.

Relying on the ‘generosity’ of Epic & other large donors is also not a long term business plan (incidentally, receiving those grants is probably a good part of why Thon had to file for incorporation, because large corporations don’t just drop bags of cash on your doorstep without some legal framework in place)

Now, Blender Foundation could decide to try selling you a build of the source code as a service, but someone would immediately post a free one somewhere (and all of it would 100% legal), so that service has very little added value, and it is obviously not a valid business model.

Look at Github, Red Hat, and many others who had to turn towards tangential services such as cloud deployment, tutorials, etc, where they can leverage their time/expertise to extract an actual revenue stream.

I think both the Foundation & Institutes are great initiatives, because with a steady revenue stream you can put some boots on the ground and make some real progress (and Blender still has a long way to go), while remaining faithful the FOSS origins of the project.



Cerberusc, I’ll “make future invention” about Blender for conversation purposes if I want to since that is allowed here. Otherwise these forums should just shut down if conversations cannot take place.

So if Blender cannot include non open-source code, what’s to stop them from creating plugin support for Nvidia AI cloud support? Surely Nvidia want’s Blender to tap into Nvidia’s infrastruture. If Blender cannot ship with Nvidia proprietary code, then they can at least pay Blender to put in plugin support that taps into Nvidia’s code via 3rd party support or their cloud.

Or put it another way, there’s nothing to stop Nvidia from taking the Blender code, modifying it to support their cloud infrastructure, let people download the Nvidia version of Blender for free, but then charge users for the cloud usage. After all, this is what happened with Android and Google making money from its app store


Blender cannot include non open-source code

It’s the other way around: nothing can include dependencies on code or assets under GPL2, without having to apply a compatible license (the ‘viral’ part of GPL2)

Blender can (and does) depend on non-GPL stuff (like your OS, GPU drivers, …) under the licensing constraints of each & every dependency, whatever those may be.

there’s nothing to stop Nvidia from taking the Blender code, modifying it to support their cloud infrastructure, let people download the Nvidia version of Blender for free, but then charge users for the cloud usage

This is going into the weeds because we now have to look at the subtleties of the definitions of ‘dependencies’. As per GPL, any source code contributed to Blender, including plug-ins, would have to be distributed under a GPL2-compatible license, in open-source form.

Running with your doomsday scenario: nvidia forks Blender, adds code to support its cloud service & releases the entire source code of that branch (because they have to). There is still no reasonable way nvidia could charge for this version of Blender, since anyone can compile the source code & redistribute it for free.

Charging for usage of a proprietary cloud service on the other hand would be OK, since network connections are specifically not covered by GPL licensing (this is actually one form of working around GPL2: move the code to a cloud server). This seems perfectly fair to me though: operating a cutting-edge GPU computing cloud costs a pretty penny.

I know this stuff can be subtle, but there really is no conspiracy here. GPL2 is a very sharp double-edged sword:

  • one side : it forces people who use GPL2 software to contribute back to the community
  • other side : it forces people to work around inventions & techniques under GPL2, because they wouldn’t be able to make a living out of their closed-source software (ex. games)

“Free stuff” always sounds good until you grow up & realise things are rarely black & white.



Just a small note here. Blender 2.79 had GPLv2, and in the sum under GPLv3. Blender 2.80 states now to be GPLv3 only.



You don’t need to release the source code into the wild. Just to your customers. That’s how the Blender market works. The addons there are under GPL.


Of course, you can, I’m not DEMANDING you to stop, I’m kindly asking you to stop, not because I cannot stand you thinking in dar futures or bright futures, but because many people here enters and reads things that are not sustained by any actual fact, they are just invention and cannot be taken as something that came out of some kind of clue or actual information about what is going to happen.

Now, as I said, you can invent anything, and I’ll keep trying to give as much information as I can to try to make you understand that what you are fearing won’t happen because of the way Blender, the Blender Institute, behave and their foundations.

That won’t happen, they simply don’t want to do that, there is already a cloud addon, the Blender Cloud addon, but that has nothing to do with Blender it self, Blender works without that addon, and that addon is kind of “commercial” because it connects you to the services of Blender Cloud, Flamenco, Attract and the Cloud asset library, from inside Blender.

Now, this CAN happen, but that’s up to NVIDIA to do so, they are free to do so, also, while they don’t have to share the source code until the first purchase, the first purchase has the right to distribute the source and the binaries.
But that route ir a great great failure, that’s what Chaos Group did for Vray, and it’s not a solution because of how the Blender user tends to use Blender, and not just master, but also different custom or experimental builds.

Please red this website:

No magic, "The source code we develop at is default being licensed as GNU GPL Version 2 or later. "


“All the components that together make Blender are compatible under the newer GNU GPL Version 3. That is also the license to use for any distribution of Blender binaries.”

Blender is a big software, the installer and some parts were under V2 and some parts under V3, some of them changed and now are under V3, but it’s no magic.


Yes - you do, including plugins. Read the actual GPL license text.


This is kind of a conversation:

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program’s users, under the GPL.

You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially, but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must make the source code available to the users of the program as described in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as described in the GPL.

If I distribute GPLed software for a fee, am I required to also make it available to the public without a charge? (#DoesTheGPLRequireAvailabilityToPublic)
No. However, if someone pays your fee and gets a copy, the GPL gives them the freedom to release it to the public, with or without a fee. For example, someone could pay your fee, and then put her copy on a web site for the general public.

So technically you are not forced to release the code out in the wild, you just have to share the code with your customers, but those customers are free to share both, the code and the binary. :slight_smile:


And now you understand why the viral nature of the license makes it impossible to mix anything closed-source.

By extension, this is also why putting anything under these viral licenses effectively assigns a $0 value to the code being published. FOSS is a noble ideal, but as with most good intentions, without compromise, it’s really just tarmac on the road to hell. Fortunately, there are many other licenses, like Apache 2, Microsoft or MIT that are far more flexible and therefore far more effective at stimulating actual progress (let’s face it: we all have to eat)

From my own personal experience, having worked on a GPL project recently: i wrote more lines of email to the legal department than actual lines of code. GPL also prevented us from using proprietary ‘state of the art’ techniques, which eventually impacted the final quality of the product and antagonized users. Needless to say: i won’t be volunteering for another GPL project any time soon…