1) I've seen a lot of coders giving their addons for free. Though the license of the GPL states that any derivative works of blender and it's source code is to be distributed under the GPL, Python is not a software as such. So, why would this restrict people to freely giveaway their addon? And Why would blenderguru's pro lighting studios not be freely available then?

2)How is it so that though blender is distributed under the GPL, it can be sublicensed under e.g. CC-ND-BY or CC-0 licenses under sites such as blendswap?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ First, my answer should be interpreted by readers informed by the knowledge that I'm not an attorney in any juridiction, and do not pretend to be one on the internet. Can you provide a citation for your claim that "python is not a software", seeing as how it is produced under the auspices of the Python Software Foundation? Further, an add on that does not incorporate any of the Blender code base, and this would include blender data files, is not, to the best of my knowledge, a "derivative work". $\endgroup$
    – brasshat
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ @brasshat, I didn't mean python is not a software, I added AS SUCH. I lists that it's GPL-compatible, but not licensed under the GPL. However, that might have less to do with files created with python than python itself $\endgroup$
    – bzal
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ @brasshat, please do clarify your last statement, "an addon that does not incorporate......." $\endgroup$
    – bzal
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 8:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ suppose you want to do some special analysis of data files created with Blender. Now, if you modify the existing code of the Blender file to do this, that might be considered a derivative work. If you write a stand alone product that perforrms the exact same analysis, but does not do this by modifying the Blender codebase, this would not be a derivative work. $\endgroup$
    – brasshat
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


Here are the licenses that Blender uses as of 24.1.2017:

All these components that make up Blender can be distributed together under the GNU GPL Version 3 license (they are all compatible with it).

The art that you create with Blender:

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.(blender.org)

Therefore you can license your art however you like. That's where CC-ND-BY, CC-0 and others come from: Creative Commons licenses. If the artwork does not have the license specified, you are not allowed to distribute it or commercially use it, etc. Always ask the author's permission.

Blender game (Blender art + Blender code):

The inclusion of Blender player (= Blender game engine) requires that the entire bundle has to be released compatible with Blender’s license (GNU).

Regarding 3rd party addons:

Blender also includes the Blender Python API, so every piece of code of the addon that uses some Blender Python API must be also licensed under GNU. This only applies to the addon script files or binaries.

What does that mean: It does not mean the author must give you such code for free. It means when you have the code, you are free to distribute it (or modify) under the same license. You can distribute it however you like - for free or for money.

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs, and that you know you can do these things.(excerpt from GNU)

If the addon includes artwork (assets, textures, etc.) these have their own licenses and you will have to get permission to distribute them. So you can distribute the 'Pro lighting studios' script files, but not the assets. Script files usually have header inside stating the license.

Using GNU license and closed source license together:

GNU does not allow linking an application with closed code - it is forbidden to include a commercial library in a GNU code - you would have to make such library open-source to use it.

But you can do something like commercial render engines do: the export plugin is GNU (uses Blender API) and converts scene data to commercial application (ie. renderer) which is not GNU (doesn't use Blender API) and the licenses differ. This works because the addon is not dependent on the non-GNU application.

Assets in Pro Lighting Skies or Grass Essentials - the addon will work with any other assets too, addon's functionality is not dependent on them. Because of this the assets can be closed-sourced.

In the case of Blender game it would not work without the assets so they must be released under GNU (the game logic is part of the assets and the game is dependent on them).

  • $\begingroup$ This is a crystal clear cut answer, but, I have a question in mind, IF we sell the addons on a site such as turbosquid, what would happen, would the licenses that they provide to their content somehow contradict with the GNU? $\endgroup$
    – bzal
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ and "so every piece of code of the addon that uses some Blender Python API must be also licensed under GNU." Does that mean, that the same addon can be licensed by parts? Multiple licensed? $\endgroup$
    – bzal
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 12:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @bzal I expanded the answer $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @bzal, regarding your question about licenses of turbosquid, keep in mind that to the best of my knowledge, in most cases, and all cases I know of, the license of an application (like Blender) and the liicense of a file created by the application are different and have no linkage. So that there is nothing in the license of Blender that would affect the licensing of any file you might use Blender to create. The conflict in licensing with Turbosquid is unrelated to any licensing of Blender, but would be a consideration in the files you create that you choose to offer there. $\endgroup$
    – brasshat
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @bzal turbosquid cannot change the license, it's illegal to change it. GNU content (Blender addon) must be distributed also GNU. So any other buyer of the content (website or individual) could legally re-sell it cheaper or give it for free. This is also the case with BlenderMarket, Gumroad, etc. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .