Requesting a change in the licensing?

GPL is a somehow restrictive license, and by far not the the only open source license. So yes it has the advantage of having source available and even for companies using blender and producing plugins closed source for internal use is ok, the GPL has no effect here at all. But there would have been license types available who were less restrictive, like BSD. Licenses that would not have killed blenders model to finance itself, but licenses that don’t force relating software into a distinct license type.

And that’s perhaps the main point of the GPL, its best feature is also its worst. It has rules that may force other code to be under the gpl too. That’s its underlying philosophy. There are some exceptions like license compatibility with for example the lgpl and even the BSD license and some rules for relicensing.

That philosophy is something you can like or dislike, and it has consequences for how the open source market grows but also how you can make money with it, and what may work together or not. Closed source companies have another philosophy when it comes down to intellectual property and how they treat it to earn money with it. These don’t have to fit together well and may keep a certain kind of product to stay away from the blender cosmos because of the gpl.

The problem with the GPL is the treatment of plugins. If the plugin and the program itself are seen as a “single combined program” then the gpl is mandatory for the plugin. Otherwise it may be whatever it likes. Sounds nice but is reached quite early.

Read about the following two questions here:

  • When is a program and its plug-ins considered a single combined program?
  • If I write a plug-in to use with a GPL-covered program, what requirements does that impose on the licenses I can use for distributing my plug-in?

Beside that Harley is completely right that it’s unlikely and hardly possible for blender to change its license today and there are also good reason why one can decide to publish something under the gpl.

But everyone here telling that its a problem for some companies is right - it’s not just “FUD”. Hard to tell what absent company stays away for what reason, but it’s true that not every companies orientation fits to Blenders gpl oriented approach. And so as told before tools like Substance painter stay away and we have to live with a reverse engineered fbx support in blender.

Closed source also exists for legitimate reasons. And so some tools who should work with blender simply can’t.

Blender is GPL now. In the end it’s just a sad thing that the gpl treats plugins as they do and we have to live with its consequences. Sure somewhere the line has to be drawn by the GPL to prevent self destruction, but its a bit early to my point of view.


There is no difference between static or dynamic linking for the GPL. The LGPL distinguishes the two.

That doesn’t fly with the GPL either - the GPL requires you to provide the source code that you’re working with when writing it, not some machine generated distorted version of it.

And that’s the way it is, take it or leave it. While a theoretical switch to a different license (which is extremely unlikely) would make it easier to integrate closed source plug-ins, it may be likely to deter contributions from volunteers and paid developers alike.

That is a meaningless belieft. No one is going to stop developing anything because the license is LGPL.

It’s like saying that Android is going to stop using because it allows paid software. No, the truth is no.

I could answer you with a “And that’s the way it is, take it or leave it” (what if the programmer happens to like using weird variable and function names, and hates using whitespace and comments?), but I think that’s a childish response that doesn’t help anyone.
The GPL allows you to charge people to obtain the original code, but that charge can be no costlier than the price of the binary / object code. So there’s the answer.

EDIT: Ughh… I’m starting to feel like the devil’s advocate here… I don’t want to talk about this anymore =(

If they like single character variable names, good for them. We can argue back and forth, the rules of the game are the GPLv3 and we cannot change them any more. I don’t think anyone needs to be convinced of all the things that a more liberal license would allow, that should be well known by now, it’s just that no matter how much we argue, Blender is going to remain under the GPL.

That’s for GPL v2. The rules for v3 say at no further charge.

Now, I can’t look inside Ton’s head, but it is my impression that the goal of the Blender Foundation is not only to create a free and open source Blender, but also to generate an entire free and open source ecosystem around it. And the GPL is the one license that’s best suited to that goal.


That’s a great point. The source files seem to let the licensee choose between v2 or v3, so the fee is optional:

 * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
 * modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
 * as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
 * of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

The license files are in the following folder:
(The file BL-license.txt has some interesting background history.)

version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Mixing this with GPLv3 licensed code means the whole thing is under v3. The GPLv3 allows you to include code under compatible licenses (as it does with the Cycles renderer), but it means that the resulting bundle is under the GPLv3 throughout and not licensed in a pick-and-choose fashion.

Where is the v3 code, is it one of the dependencies? Otherwise you could opt to use v2 for everything.
If past contributors have to be asked permission to change from GPL to LGPL, then they should be asked to change from v2 to v3.

Past contributors need not be asked when moving from “version 2 of the License, or […] any later version.” to v3, because they already agreed to any future version of the GPL.

There are other GPL licensed projects that don’t include the “any later version” clause, most notably the Linux kernel. Those would require consent from contributors before a switch to GPL3.

The commit log from the introduction of the v3 license motions “(Because Blender links with the Apache2 license)” as reason, but if you search the code base, components such as Audaspace or the fluid sim also explicitly mention v3.

We only are having a program hard to develop for third parties with zero ecosystem since 20 years ago. And the few interesting plugins are using a way to avoid the GPL (FLIP, QuadRemesher, Renderman, UV PackMaster).

at least devs could search a way to give a solution to this problem and allow propietary plugins. For example the Mesh modifier that allow to link external software.

Correct. There are other programs that have that third party ecosystem, and you are free to use those. As a user, you have many options and Blender is only one of them. None is perfect.

Which they can’t because they’re legally bound by the GPL. Unless you convince all of them, but that is about as likely as Apple giving us all free MacBooks.

I know, I hear you. You want non-free plugins for Blender. Many people do. But that’s not what the license allows for, and that’s not what the BF is working towards.

This is a topic to debate this, if you don’t like it, go away, but don’t bother, you won’t shut anyone up with little boy phrases.

Look, I understand your problem. I was once myself in the situation of having the opportunity of writing a commercial plugin for Blender and abandoned the plans because of the GPL. It is simply a situation, that, as inconvenient it is for some, will not change in the foreseeable future. You can make your complaints heard (and by all means, I read all of them and understand them), but neither you nor I can change the situation.

I think it’s great that you don’t have any hope of changing anything. You can leave the feedback forum whenever you want, but don’t try to make the rest of us do the same as you and dedicate all your messages to it.

If every time someone said that my opinion was not going to change anything I would have listened to him I would not have been able to see all the things that I have managed to see.

I’m not defending anything, I’m merely explaining the situation at hand.

If you can find a way to allow for commercial plugins while satisfying the goals of free software, then I’ll be happy to jump on board. I have tons of ideas for plugins that I’d be happy implement even. So, how do you think we can change this?

Have you see the mesh effect branch?

BF needs to change the license to LGPL, or a API that allow in some way, meanwhile they could give some supoprt to this type of ideas.

If you’re talking about the FLIP-fluids add-on, it seems to be open-source from what I can see.

Blender add-ons for sale do work. I’ve never seen anyone buying something then releasing it for free to others, to circumvent the buying process. If you have an idea, go for it, there’s Gumroad and BlenderMarket (the latter even lets you reserve a part of your earnings to donate to the B.F). Like @Zoot said before, there’s “an active and vibrant addons market.”