Inhouse Addons Interfacing Proprietary Services

So here is my situation. I am developing a library/service (written in C++) which essentially generates meshes based on other meshes and tons of parameters within a company where I am employed. It’s propriety software.

I use blender a lot within the development process for all kind of purposes. One is regression testing and examples for my service. For this I have created a blender Addon which interfaces my service via a websocket. Essentially it sends a mesh (an object in a scene) to the service, then some information about that mesh is analyzed and lastly commands are sent to the service and other meshes are created and loaded into blender.

This is not really tightly coupled but also not just a single call to an external process. Essentially, I guess it’s a borderline case in terms of, when the Addon is GPL and is bundled with the propriety service, whether that the service is also required to be published under GPL or not? For now I treat it so that any publishing of that Addon would be considered as a GPL violation. But I wonder how this is managed with other Addons which for e.g. interface external render engines like Arnold etc.

Anyways, that Addon will remain an inhouse-product and never will be in the hands of any end-users. At least not as long as the core isn’t GPL as well. But there are other gray areas I am worried about. The service is integrated into several other products and for front-end developers the teststuite is useful to understand and test certain features. As long as those developers are within my company, there is no problem. But you know that the modern corporate live is not always that simple. I am also dealing with external teams which want to integrate the service into other products and for evaluation and testing it would help them to fire up the testuite. Not to be used as a tool, just as a form of documentation and demo, not involving any end-users. So I am in the situation where I essentially can give the testsuite to one half of the team and the other half is only allowed to passively view it on request. Or just viewing renderings but no interactive playing around. Weird.

How would you handle this? Any useful thoughts?

assuming your C++ plugin isn’t using GPL code then you’re fine. This is how plugins like UVPackmaster and QuadRemesher get around licensing issues for their proprietary code. The python addon part is GPL, but the C++ binary is not.

that said- i’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think you’re required to release your addon at all. If you were to make it public, the GPL dictates that the addon portion (anything using bpy) is free and open source, but if it’s under your roof as an internal tool I don’t think it matters?

Communication over internet protocols dosn’t violat the GPL only if you’re passing over data directly by mapping memory or by using blender internal function into your backend code, as far as I know . I’m not a lawyer :slight_smile: just read about elsewhere…

In any case getting an official advice from a lawyer is going to be safer and more convincing for your boss than getting it from a forum post.