(Controversial:) Do we need legal policies for commercial exploitation of Blender?

Little by little, commercialism is beginning to crop up in the Blender world. Some software add-ons are now being offered for Blender that are not “free and open source.” There is, for example, a new retopology tool that costs $35.00. These are being rather heavily promoted in online video tutorials that are also now “for sale.”

Do we want this? Is it good for Blender?

Now, a little background. A generation or so ago, one of my relatives wrote a few tunes that today are basically “bumper music.” However, he was astute enough to join ASCAP and to register the copyrights to those “bumper” songs … which are still popular for their intended, albeit fairly industrial purpose. Be that as it may, ASCAP and BMI still “police” the commercial use of those songs. 35¢ or 40¢ at a time, it still adds up twice-a-year to a “very measurable part” of my total annual household income, as it will for the rest of my life. There is serious money to be made by collecting your rightful share of something that is sold.

Blender, up to this point in time, has survived and prospered from the free contributions of its developers, with support in part from the not-for-profit Blender Foundation. The total aggregate produce of all of this “free and open-source” effort has evolved into something that now has great commercial potential. And there are now those who are seeking to leverage, well, “what other people have done.” But they’re not giving-back, except perchance “voluntarily.”

Is this “okay?” Should this be “compulsory,” as copyright license law ordinarily allows?

We could, for example, seek to put in place a policy … having legal “teeth” … which states that, if you sell anything that is an add-on to Blender, you must (by law) pay, say, 50% of the gross proceeds of the sale to the Blender Foundation accounts, which must then use the revenue to support further open-source development of Blender.

Or, you could take it one step closer to, say, what happens in Nashville. If someone develops a commercial enhancement that is derived from something that you at some time in the past contributed to Blender on the assumption that “Blender is Free,” then you did so without concern for royalties on the presumption that there would never be any. However, if someone is now, say, charging $35.00 a copy for retopologizing code that is “a derivative work” of your original contribution (which they did not have to replicate, because you did it), then it certainly could be argued that you are entitled to royalties now. After all, the commercial exploitation “fundamentally changes the game,” and the terms of your implied copyright-licensing of what, being the product of your own hand, does “belong to you.”

We haven’t had to think about things like this until fairly recently. But, might we not need to be thinking about these things now?

There’s no license violation seen with the Blender market addons, all of them are licensed under the GPL like Blender and the source code is freely available on sites like Github (you paying for them is more a matter of abiding to an honor system and what is ethical rather than a requirement).

Free and paid add-ons will compete with each other. People will develop paid add-ons then others will make free variants of those paid add-ons. It’s really nothing to fret over.

I frankly can’t see why there should ba an antagonism between FOSS and proprietary software. They’re both perfectly viable business models, as shown by IBM, Google, the Blender Foundation on one side and Microsoft/Apple on the other. Once in a while, when i see some cool add-on or plugin for Houdini or 3DS Max, I sure wish they’d make a version for Blender, too, and I sure wouldn’t mind paying for it.

Exactly. No one is being forced to pay for anything, and the option SHOULD be there for those who wish to be financially compensated for their time and effort.

I think blender needs a red button, labeled, donate to blender, that links to the donation site, not forcing, just reminding,

I personally don`t want it but maybe it is good for blender as long as the money for addons is for development and when the work is payed it should be for free… thats what I think… otherwise all that open source makes no sense because it will become definitely autodesk and all the years of blender development and ideas behind are lost… [edit] and my intention to support blender as much as I can…

hopefullly it stops soon and everybody is thinking about open source things… and especially blender;)

Sure it’s OK, as long as they are in compliance with the license. the GPL isn’t about ensuring that anything is free of cost, only that users of free software are not prevented from using/changing/redistributing it. It’s about your rights as a user, not zero cost software.

Not directly… just read the other lengthy thread about people trying to allow for commercial plugins for Blender. The license, by design, makes it very difficult to profit directly off of the software itself. Sure, there are all sorts of ways to make money indirectly, and the license doesn’t prevent or discourage that at all.

No you can’t… the license does not allow for that. That would be entirely contrary to the spirit and letter of the license Blender is distributed under.

Now, if you don’t care about what the license Blender is distributed under and are talking more about a non-binding policy separate from that (i.e. that BlenderArtists or Blender users in general should shun certain business practices), then that’s a different story and my points are irrelevant.

I wouldn’t worry about how others are attempting to profit off of Blender or trying to prevent it, rather just send financial support in the direction of BF or BI (whatever makes sense to you) to support their work and encourage others to do so. If they’d just fix their ecommerce system so that they could take my money…

Individuals that create their own addons do so without the ability to be supported by the BF, so they don’t see any of that donation money. Asking for money to support that development is similar to what happened with BSurfaces addon, and I see it as a necessary thing if I want to see these addons and tools developed. Not everything can be Free without someone putting money up to get the ball rolling i.e. the large sum that was donated to Open Source Blender in the first place.

I’m not worried at all, I think in fact that in the long run this will lead to more creative endeavors concerning the use of Blender.

It also helps to keep in mind that while many features have indeed been donated by independent freelancers, there is a stable of developers that are being paid to develop Blender through the Blender Institute (which is funded by not only contributions but also government and private subsidies). Not all people can afford to develop for free and not all can access grants and donations, so they charge a (pretty low in all respects) fee for their work. Not a big deal.

Add-ons are scripts , scripts are the user property and can be sold. Without any payment to Blender Foundation. The main problem it is there it is no plugin system for game engine and stuff …and has lots conflict aka “gpl thread”.

Script are NOT GPL , they are ALL RIGHTS RESERVED and covered by Copyright. So go and make money on your own add-on for Blender it is legit.

Scripts that use GPL API’s are indeed covered by copyright and have all rights reserved, right up until you distribute them. If the script relies on code that is GPL licensed in order to work, it is a derivative work and will need to comply with the GPL in order to be legally distributed. If the scripts rely on a publicly available, non-GPL licensed API, then there is leeway to sell without having to pass on the code.

Easy way to determine if your work relies on (& hence is a derivative of) GPL code & therefore would be covered by the GPL. Does the script run as intended in a non GPL licensed application / virtual machine? If not, you’re 99% guaranteed to be running what is considered a “derivative work” and will need to abide by the copyright license of the work from which you have derived it (i.e. GPL license).

Read Blender Foundation site , scripts made in blender are user property includes …add-ons. They are like .blend files. You dont use Blender 3D source code to make them , like you dont use Blender 3D source code to make 3D art.

This is incorrect. There is no such thing as a GPL licensed API. There is only GPL licensed code. Linking is the telltale requirement… if your code links to GPL’d code that isn’t covered by an exception or alternate (LGPL, LLGPL, AGPL) license, then its virtually guaranteed that your code is derivative. There is some grey area when code isn’t linked to GPL code but is intimately tied to it via share memory. But other than that, it is entirely possible to have non-GPL code depend on GPL code (external programs, scripts, data files, etc.) It is even possible to distribute GPL code along with proprietary code as long as the GPL portion of what is distributed is in compliance with the GPL. Apple, and before that NeXT, are good examples of companies that have done this successfully for decades without a problem. And then there’s Google with Android and Chrome OS. etc. etc. etc… it doesn’t require special permission or licenses, just care in how proprietary code inter-operates with GPL code.

Sorry, but according to the latest decision in the Oracle v. Google case in regards to the Java API’s, you are wrong. API’s are a copyrightable work according to the Federal Circuit of the USA. Other jurisdictions may differ, but unless you’re cutting the USA out of your distribution - you kind of have to take that into account.

If a work can be copyrighted (as the afore mentioned court case affirms API’s can be), and the author applies a copyright license to that work, then derivative works need to abide by that license. Like it or not, the Blender Python API’s are copyrightable, copyrighted, and licensed for use under the GPL. Code that writes to those API’s are derivative works of said API.

Like it or not, that is the position of the US legal system, the Free Software Foundation, and core Blender developers. You are free, if you like, to challenge that in court but I would suggest people not take your advice given you seem to disagree with the judges on the Us Federal Circuit as to what is & isn’t copyrightable.

You got it wrong.

Files resulted from Software GPL are not GPL. Inkscape svg files are copyrighted by the owner and stay like that. Same for Gimp file format. And same thing apply to Blender 3D file format .blender.

After you read it you will get why i did start the other …thread…debate

Just a note. Contours is “Free and open source”. The source is freely available and as GPL if I understand correctly. Free in this instance does not mean free as in no money. It means free to share and modify, the reason Richard Stallman created the FSF in the first place.

Being piss poor I lament that addons are going commercial, but I certainly undersatand why, and support coders doing so, if it means higher quality plugins and a wider acceptance of Blender professionally.

A legal solution it is that Blender Foundation to make it own LICENSE and release Blender 3D on that own license that give right for full time plugins and dump GPL infecting license that it is made on a personal hate of one individual. If GPL stops Blender 3D evolution then that license must be changed to a custom license that it is same OPEN SOURCE but without the GPL burden.

Hasn’t this been discussed a million billion times by now?

Even if someone believes this is bad for Blender, the GPL allows it and there’s no way to stop it. To discuss whether or not it’s good or bad is pointless.

The BF can’t change the license without either tracking down all the contributors and getting them to agree or rewriting a huge chunk of Blender. Good luck with that.