Guys, Blender might NOT be FREE forever


#1

Blender was not always free, it became free as a result of not being able to compete at a time when the standards were not standards, but adopted by studios and rather then see the Blender code die Ton Roosendaal decided to open the source.

With the Blender foundation taking all kinds of money from large corporate sponsors it can’t have escaped everyone that it’s indicative of the foundation of industry development shifting. I’m certain that the Blender Foundation would rather be in a position to not be beholden to companies’ whims because of the money those companies are contributing, but the fact is that they NEED THE MONEY. Probably behind closed doors the core Blender Foundation and other code contributors have weathered many lean financial years.

As so many overzealous blender users want to point out more and more DCC end users are choosing blender, however there’s a potential dark side to this phenomenon that may or may not happen. I doubt that stalwarts like Maya, Max, Houdini will ever truly die but the industry can still collapse making the more lucrative alternate opportunities these commercial companies can offer dry up. Coders that use Blender development as a springboard into commercial development and use commercial development as a means of gaining intermittent salary bumps so they can pay their bills, feed their families, etc. and nurture their passion of developing for Blender would be left twisting in the wind dependent on a software company that can’t generate much money while still being chained to companies contributing money with conflicting interests in some cases in an industry largely supported by free software that’s not effort free to make.


#2

The foundation was created to buy blender from NaN, the company that was distributing the closed-source version for free. It was always free, just not open source.
Now that it is open source the license prevents it from being sold commercially. As an open-source program developers could continue working on it even if the foundation ceased its involvement.


#3

Guys, Blender might NOT be FREE forever

Lol and flipped over another erroneous speculative reflection, would be like ADSK killing their subscription ‘business’ model…forever.


#4

Again, in theory this could certainly happen but it’s highly unlikely if all the founding members left the GNU and moved on to repackage it as a commercial product that Blender would be a viable DCC package for commercial work for very long.

The Blender Foundation is responsible for 90% or the work and the break neck pace of development that’s brought blender to this point. If the Blender Foundation left I would give open source blender about 3-4 years of being valid and then it would become marginalized or deprecated.

It’s one thing for you to get paid very little when you’re the “Little Guy”, but if you’re providing the product that’s the foundation of multiple multi-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRIES AND YOU ARE GETTING PAID PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR to maintain the software, you might just have some problems with that.

Aside from that every open source project is abandoned at some point because no one wants to work for free or close to free forever, to expect anything else is delusional.


#5

This is highly speculative and based solely on your fears, I’m afraid. While there’s always a slim chance that Blender might one day go commercial, it is highly unlikely. Blender has been around for 25 years now and has been free for about 21 years, starting with the SGI version.

I think that you underestimate the community’s desire to keep Blender free. While Blender as commercial software (via the shareware model) failed, the Blender Foundation managed to raise €100k in just over 2 months. As a non-profit organization, Blender Foundation has done a marvelous job of fundraising. They’re averaging about $95k/month; enough to support 16 full time salaried developers.

While it’s true that Blender gets a lot of corporate sponsorship, nearly 26% of Blender’s development fund comes from users. The Blender Foundation receives about $300k annually from end user donations. Corporate sponsorship could dry up and the foundation would still be able to support 4 salaried developers. That’s not to mention the numerous developers devoting their free time to branches.

I don’t ever see Blender as going commercial. It doesn’t make sense. The core ethos has always been about leveling the playing field and democratizing 3D software. Blender Foundation may take money from large corporations such as NVIDIA and Epic, but they are in no way beholden to them. While, as a non-profit, they are probably required to offer up a certain degree of transparency, they are still largely autonomous and decide the direction of the app. Just because a company such as Ubisoft has chipped into the fund doesn’t buy them the power to act as some puppet master. That’s not really how it works.

Keep in mind that it’s also in the best interests of these companies to keep Blender free. I have no doubt in my mind that many companies have grown tired of living under the thumb of Autodesk. It’s gotten to the point where some legacy licenses are no longer as perpetual as once claimed. Autodesk, knowing that it has studios where they want them, can just about change the rules on a whim. It’s getting real old. Autodesk has become a Goliath waiting to be slain by some underdog David. Seriously.

It just so happens that Epic Games and Ubisoft are the most prominent players (so far) to put their money where their mouth is and test the waters. And why wouldn’t they? Even if they were to donate $1mil, think about how much staying with Autodesk’s products is costing them in the long run. Funding Blender is still cheaper than being forced into subscriptions. They might not be able to direct Blender’s evolution, but their donations will guarantee that it will continue to grow and mature.

This is in stark contrast to an Autodesk subscription, which only guarantees you access to their software. Autodesk could literally freeze their apps and ask you to continue paying for the privilege of using their software. As long as they keep these apps compatible with the latest OSes and drivers, they can sit on their laurels and collect that fat cash.

Think about it another way. By coming together as a community and funding Blender’s development, they’re not just avoiding subscriptions. They’re collectively saving money that might otherwise be spent on developing in-house Maya/3dsmax alternatives. Instead of reinventing the wheel themselves, they chip a couple of bucks so that some other developer can keep on building an app that they were already building before the donations. There’s a certain power to crowdfunding. All Blender Foundation has to do is keep developing and keep listening to the larger community they serve.

With a company such as NVIDIA, the advantages of supporting Blender are a little less obvious. It more or less amounts to another way to get the NVIDIA name out there, no different than sponsoring an art competition. You could argue that they’d be pushing a pro-NVIDIA agenda by ensuring that Blender would get stronger CUDA support, but development on that front was going to continue anyway - with or without NVIDIA’s donation.

I also would take NVIDIA’s support of Blender as a big, big stamp of approval, tbh. They don’t have to throw their money Blender’s way. In doing so, they’re basically saying that Blender has grown into something worth backing. It legitimizes Blender and only strengthens the Foundation’s resolve to stay on their current track.

COULD Blender go commercial? Sure. I could also spontaneously wake up with a previously non-existent French accent. That could happen. It won’t but it could. Blender donations could dry up today and it still wouldn’t kill the project. The same motivation that inspired Ton to put Blender into everybody’s hands for free would still be there. Art shouldn’t be for the elite or those who could pay to buy into the system. It should be for everybody. The community paid to free Blender once before. Unless Maya itself suddenly goes free, the community will continue to pay to keep Blender the non-ADSK alternative.

Again, Blender has been around for 25 years and free for 21 of them. Short of Ton dying today and taking his vision for Blender’s future with him, there’s no way that the Foundation is going to deviate from their current strategy - even if corporate sponsorship drops off. The community - and its desire to get more for less - will ways remain the true dominant force. I’m not sure that you can put the genie back in its bottle.


#6

Let me set things clear, Blender will NEVER change it’s license, hence it will NEVER stop being free.

For that to happen all the people that once contributed to the project should agree in that GPL must be changed to any other license scheme, and that’s not possible.

Why do I know that it’s not possible?

Apart of the fact that I know many devs, core devs and side-devs, and they have things clear about the licensing, I myself contributed a patch to Blender and I will never accept a license change in Blender.

So please, stop this miss-information.

Blender will ALWAYS be free.


#7

Cookeepuss, it is already a commercial business. It always was. Ton never worked for nothing, he made a good living of it. They hire paid developers when they have the money for. You even name it, they make 100k a month at the moment. It’s just that it is a business model based at open source. And with a software that is provided for free.

The base software Blender will remain free forever. They can’t change the license, and they can’t stop people forking it.

However, the whole periphery has turned into a cash cow. And what is on the Blender market will most likely never make its way into the Blender trunk. Blender earns here too, and they don’t want to cut away this income.

Blender has now basically the same business model like Unity or Unreal. Base software for free. And the money is made with the periphery then. Assets, Cloud, Addons, Training …


#8

Incorrect. They’re a non-profit foundation. I’m not exactly sure that you know how that works. I do. My father has been a Chief Financial Officer in the non-profit sector for the past 20-something years. Probably through some sort of osmosis, I’ve picked up a few things on the subject. Here’s what little I know about it.

Just because you’re a non-profit organization doesn’t mean that you work for free. Employees do indeed draw a salary. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to live and the organization would be full of volunteers. It’s not a charity. With the possible exception of an appointed board, staffers all take home a paycheck. The organization, however, doesn’t earn a profit.

As a non-profit or not-for-profit, two different things btw, they are subject to certain other government regulations and levels of accountability cum transparency. The money they take in, usually through donations and grants, can pay for the aforementioned salaries and operating expenses, but that’s largely it. The bulk of the incoming money is diverted to various allocations and projects. Their funds are strictly controlled down to the last penny - especially if government grants are in play. NPOs, because they don’t keep the bulk of their money are, at least in the US, also subject to a different set of tax laws. This is how churches avoid paying taxes.

Blender is a non-profit organization. They may sell things like books and t-shirts, but that money is tossed back into the foundation once the cost of production is covered. It’s a fundraising tactic just like school bake sales, silly bachelor auctions, or the church passing around the plate.

Blender is itself NOT commercial software either. I find it hard for anybody to argue that point given the fact that that the license is well known to be open source. It’s right there on their site. Ton briefly entertained making Blender commercial software via the shareware model 17 or 18 years ago during the NaN period of Blender’s existence, but that endeavor failed and was replaced by the Blender Foundation and open source model. With the exception of that NaN period, Blender has been free software since 1998 on the SGI platform.

TLDR Bottom line: Blender, as a piece of software, is open source and NOT commercially licensed. Two different models. Recognize that. As an organization, Blender Foundation is a non-profit organization. Employees, including Ton and the developers, are all allowed to draw salaries. Being a non-profit doesn’t mean that you work for free. Everybody has to eat and the law surrounding NPOs recognizes it. Ton will be able to pay his bills, but he’s just never going to become a billionaire working with the Foundation. That’s it.

Honestly, and I don’t mean to fight with you Tiles, your post just goes to show how little you know about the Blender Foundation and how NPOs operate.

As for Blender Market, again, do your research. They likely do earn money, but a certain percentage of money is redirected to ward the Blender Foundation’s fund. sigh Between the money it takes to keep them operating, what the developers take home, and what the Blender Foundation is taking back in donations, NOBODY is getting rich. Cash cow. Right. :roll_eyes:

With regards to training, once you leave the inner circle of Blender world, it’s all fair game. There’s no reason why trainers can’t earn money through the likes of Gumroad, Cubebrush, and so on. They’re not getting rich either, but they’re not a NPO and it’s okay for them to earn a buck. Just because Blender Foundation is a non-profit doesn’t mean that addon developers and trainers are. You’re mixing apples and oranges.

Blender doesn’t even remotely have the same business model as either Unity OR Unreal. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Now you’re just being silly. That’s just total bs and there’s no other nice way of putting it. I’m not even sure that you believe that.


#9

Seems that we agree to disagree :slight_smile:

You tell me to do some research, but at the same time you close both eyes here. And even put the hands over it so that no ray of wrong light may hit it. The tragic of being a fan.

I did my research. I know pretty well how everything is connected and how the BF has its fingers in the Blender Market and BI and quite a few more things.

Where you seem misunderstand me is that i would accuse Blender with that in any way by telling it with its real name. I don’t. Money is what drives every big software project, this is the business part of it. FOSS projects are no exception. Like Mozilla. Or Linux. Without money and business Blender wouldn’t exist anymore. So this is a good thing.

It may of course look a bit hypocrite, since they market their product as non profit and with the label to be the “good” ones. A big family where everybody can join and improve things since it is oh so open source. (another marketing gag, 99% of the code comes from the paid developers. For good reason). But this is no contradiction at all.

Again, and to return to the only thing that at least i wanted to discuss here, Ton and the core dev team makes a good living from this project since many years. They make now 100k per month. And if that is not business, then i don’t know what is :wink:


#10

Does anyone really CARE?!!

From where I’m standing, from what little I’ve seen of 2.8, I think if the guy has a little bread and water from time to time, that’s fine by ME! :wink: …and if, once in a while, that happens to change to caviar and champagne, well, I won’t spite him that either :smile:

I’ve OFTEN wondered how the “OSS business model” works - matter of fact, I once read a book on it, still can’t really say I get it. Tiles, YOU seem to be knowledgeable - how does something like Firefox make money? Care to hold forth…? :slight_smile:


#11

I wouldnt be suprised if we see a free and paid version sooner or later.
A paid version for companies which comes with a premium service/support and maybe some additional stuff/features and a free version like we have now…


#12

The Blender Institute already offers paid training. It’s one of the ways to generate income.


#13

There could be an official paid add-on, possibly. They can’t simply take the code that has been released under GPL, and make it closed again. What’s open now will stay open.


#14

They own the code they can leave the GNU whenever they want. Certainly whatever has been downloaded is out there and can be modified, but without the blender foundation and without uploading and downloading of the code being legal there would be a lot of infrastructure that’s lost and a lot of the non-commercial development would end eventually, probably sooner rather then later.


#15

It’s not so easy. You would need the permission of all involved developers. One developer where you can’t get this permission is enough to stop it. And a few have passed away meanwhile.

In theory they could throw out the code parts where they can’t get this permission, and rewrite this parts. And relicense Blender then. Or they could do it like with the manual. They simply changed it from OCL to CC0, unasked. Nobody moaned, so who cares for legality …

But GPL is another chapter compared to OCL. And Manual is not Code. It would kill the developers to really remove the code parts in question. That would be pretty much a rewrite. And i know that Ton and his core developers are very convinced about the GPL license. Which is also a business and marketing decision since the GPL stands for FOSS like no other license. So chances that they really relicense the source code at one point is pretty much equal zero.


#16

What you seem unwilling to grasp is that they do not “own” the code now that it is out under GPL. They own the trademark of blender, but they cannot take back the code that has been released under the GPL. They can create code that is not under GPL, but the code that is GPL would still be legal to up/download.
To go commercial they would need to separate their GPL code from non-GPL code and sell the commercial code as a plug-in or extension. Without the foundation anyone could fork blender (and can now) and continue developing it indefinitely.


#17

That’s not correct. GPL does not forbid to sell the software. All the addons at the Blender market are GPL, it’s one of the requirements there. And you pay for most of them. It’s just, in that case you need to hand out the source code to every customer who asks for it. And the customers are allowed to redistribute the software. <- but first a customer would need to buy the software. And this does not include all the things that are not under GPL.

Anyways. Addons is one chapter, Blender another. The marketing wouldn’t work anymore, they would loose the trust. They promised to stay FOSS. They would most probably loose their sponsors and volunteers. And there are already free forks out there, like mine. So they would immediately loose lots of customers. That would be a bad business decision.

But legally speaking, Blender could go commercial within minutes.


#18

Blender does not receive anything from Blender Market, it’s a totally different company, it’s owned by CG Cookie and they donate whatever they want, but it has nothing to do with the Blender Institute or the Blender Foundation.

Also it has been stated by Ton that they don’t want to favour a third party ecosystem of plugins, they will continue improving Blender and implementing features no matter if they are as commercial addons or not.

Also don’t forget that any addon that works in Blender is licensed under GPL, hence it’s free, if you purchase it you can put it for anyone to download for free in your website or share it with whoever you want, any developer has to share the source code with your if you ask for it, the only thing is that first you should purchase the addon to ask for the code, that’s how GPL works, but once you’ve purchased the product you can share both the product and the source for free to anyone.

The only commercial part of the Blender Institute is the Blender Cloud, focused in giving some services and education, that’s it.


#19

And once again, I don’t know how you did your research but it’s completely wrong… Blender Market has nothing to do with the Blender Institute or the Blender Foundation.

They have an income of 75k € per month in the Blender Development Fund and that goes entirely to development, with that money devs are paid.
They have other income form the Blender Cloud that it IS a commercial project as I explained.

Please, repeat your investigations and try to contact the people you should contact, don’t make up things that are simply not true.

Blockquote
Ton and the core dev team makes a good living from this project since many years. They make now 100k per month. And if that is not business, then i don’t know what is :wink:

How do you define a “good living” ? A standard developer salary? if that’s what you mean, then yes… they have a good living, as any other person working in something and receiving their salary.

That’s not possible, please use facts to make your future predictions.

What addon and for what? That’s not the plan or their target, and they are not Autodesk, their promises are accomplished.

No they don’t own the code, and not they cannot leave GNU whenever they want, I already explained this in a previous post.


#20

I don’t own a house or my own business building. Ton does :slight_smile:

Regarding Blender Market, just because you don’t like what you hear doesn’t make other people wrong. The last time i checked it was 15% to BF from every addon that gets sold at the Blender Marked. And the Blender Market is driven by Ex Blender developers.

EDIT, ah, they have changed the terms meanwhile. 5% goes to Blender Market. And you have the option to spend some of your income to the BF then. Still a pretty good business connection.