How does GNU license apply?

Hello, Blender and UP Blender Game Engine are both GNU. A question I have is how does this apply to node arrangements?

Suppose a person create a node arrangement that goes like this:

How would the arrangement of nodes be licensed as? Would it be under whatever the person created it be? Or would it be under GNU? Would that apply only to the arrangement of nodes? Or would it also apply to things like the manipulation of the color ramp?

I also have a question about GNU and exporting of games. Does GNU cover exported games?

as far as I know.

It doesn’t apply to .blend files therefore also doesnt for nodes.

You own the copyright to your .blend file, so you can license it however you want.

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The GPL, which is a GNU licence, is mostly concerned with code and reuse/distribution of code in your files. If your game contains any code licenced under the GPL, you need to make your code available if you distribute the binaries created with/compiled with said code. Any images or animations fall under the purview of other licencing, you could for example use a Creative Commons licence, which is intended to protect you as the content creator. As a .blender file is so versatile, licencing can be quite complex since you are able to embed code, shaders, textures and sounds, or even node setups, that you did not create and which usage of depends on their licencing. If you don’t distribute the file publicly, it is not a problem but if the .blend contains copyrighted materials and you share the file, you can be held liable for infringement.

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That’s not true. Many commercial products are, say, "compiled with gcc," but this fact does not obligate the producer to provide the source-code to the work. You can also freely incorporate publicly-licensed materials, such as “the glibc library” or any of many hundreds of others, without being required to give away your source code.

Apple’s entire OS/X and iOS systems are built on top of open-source Darwin® UNIX. The Android system is built on top of Linux. Linux and Darwin are open-source and are maintained as such, while the remainder of both of these platforms is proprietary.

There are plenty of sites which give authoritative breakdowns of what the public licenses do and do not permit. Read this:

This page specifically addresses the incorporation of GPL material into non-free programs, using the Bison compiler-generator as an example. Bison copies parts of itself into every parser that it generates. But this does not force the user of that tool to distribute source-code to the thing that he built which uses it. The copied material contained within the generated parser is GPL, but the generated parser is not.

Blender’s copyright owners have made it expressly clear that you can do anything you want with Blender, and that it is “yours forever.” You’re entitled to sell add-ons, for example, and even though those may consist partly of Python source-code, they’re still proprietary. They’re still “for sale.”

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I am not license expert but I would say that you can not claim a “copyright” of a node setup, you can use it and sell a file that contains it but your rights are for the final result (the model) created and do not apply to the node settings or other setting in the program you have used.
There is nothing to stop someone else using the same node setup with the same values in a different model.

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If the code you compiled with GCC includes GPL code, say from the Blender code base, it falls under the GPL. If the libraries are linked, yes, but if code from the libraries is included in your code base (copy/paste) is GPL, then the GPL licence stipulates that the code including said GPL licenced code must be made available, if the compiled binary, compiled with the compiler of your choice, whether proprietary or not, is released into the commons. The BSD licence is much more permissive regarding code reuse.

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Companies with copyrights will happily drag you into court if their lawyers think they can make a bit of money or perceive you as a threat to their revenue stream. I was specifically talking about the distribution of .blend files containing other people’s work who have not agreed to share their fruit of their labours. Even if legally allowed, it would be unethical to benefit from someone else’s work, if permission has not been given…


Your “node setup” could not exist without Blender … but it is not Blender.

Your “Blender add-on” could not exist without Blender … but it, also, is not Blender.

The models that you have perfected and now seek to sell could not exist without Blender … but they are not Blender.

The movie that you make using Blender … is not Blender.

“Blender” is the common foundation upon which all of these things rest, and open-source licenses are devised to ensure that this foundation, to which so many people have contributed, remains accessible without barbed-wire fences. But, “‘foundations’ are built only so that they can be built upon.” At the end of the day, we all intend to make money somehow.

I’m personally in favor of the term: "Cooperative" software development.

Instead of devoting purely-redundant effort into the creation of purely-redundant and totally-unprofitable foundations, we voluntarily choose to cooperate … while legally ensuring that no one can take advantage of us. Having thus created “a tide that lifts all boats,” we can now focus our attention on individually decorating the profitable boats.

Yes there is a sticky area and now with geometry nodes and everything nodes it will get more so, in the future a model can just be a pile of nodes (now it is a bunch of vertices).

I am sure they would.
In the end nodes are building bricks similar to music and musical notes, if the end product resembles an existing piece somebody may try and claim for it.
That said we have all probably plugged a noise texture into the factor of a colour ramp which was originally done by the first blender user and there has to be a line drawn somewhere that determines whether a certain setup is original or “worthy” of licencing as your copyright.

I agree, but everyone learns and is influenced from other peoples work and uses methods and node setups that are in tutorials, forums etc, again there has to be a threshold.


Your Artwork

What you create with Blender is your sole property. All your artwork – images or movie files – including the .blend files and other data files Blender can write, is free for you to use as you like.

That means that Blender can be used commercially by artists, by studios to make animation films or VFX, by game artists to work on commercial games, by scientists for research, and by students in educational institutions.

Blender’s GNU GPL license guarantees you this freedom. Nobody is ever permitted to take it away, in contrast to trial or “educational” versions of commercial software that will forbid your work in commercial situations.


I am reading between the lines on this one (a bad habit I have), to the question “can I sell a node setup that has been made with blender” the answer is a definite yes. There are people who do sell “stand alone” node setups without a model and it is perfectly OK.
You do not have to share or make public your node setup or settings.
My concern was to what point you can actually claim creators rights for the settings of the nodes and parameters of a blend file in general, which I do not think was what the question was about.