GPL Myths and Misunderstandings

While we all enjoy the openness of Blender and appreciate being able to use it for free, access the source code, and adapt its features to our needs, we're often not keen on sharing our own work as freely as Blender is shared. It is understandable to fear that others will profit off of your work or that you won't be able to recoup the costs of having made your add-ons.

This article is meant to address those fears as well as common misconceptions about how the GNU GPL works and what using the license means for the code-based products that you've put so much time and energy into.

Do I have to give my code-based product away for free?

No. The GNU GPL is focused on preserving users' freedoms. Thus, you are at liberty to distribute (or not) the product as you choose. You're also free to charge a fee for the product (or not). The GNU GPL does not put limits on commercializing code-based assets. If, for instance, someone were to contact you to request a copy of your code, you could respond in any of the following ways (and more!):

  • "No, I'm not distributing it at this time."
  • "Sure, but it's going to cost you $3."
  • "Sure, but it's going to cost you $1,000,000."
  • "Sure, have it for free." 

What if someone buys my product and then uploads it to sell on Blender Market (with or without having made changes to it)?

They are entirely within their rights to do that according to the terms of the GPL license, however, Blender Market does not allow opportunistic products like this on our platform. Each new product is approved or rejected by our team and we do our best to reject products that are copies of existing products. If a product slips past us, please contact us to let us know.

What's to stop someone from making more money off of my product than I make?

The thing to remember about Blender Market is that what you are selling is not the code-based products themselves but access to your product expertise, support, and updates. There's so much more to becoming a successful creator than just making a product. Think of all the work that you have done and continue to do to successfully launch your product(s), keep momentum going, work with customers to solve problems and incorporate feedback into updates. Anyone who just re-uploads your source code somewhere will be unlikely to get very far without in-depth knowledge of your creation and a lot of digital elbow grease. And nobody knows your products like you do.

Is my whole product subject to the terms of GPL, even my beautiful texture files that I spent so much time on?

Nope. The only thing that GPL covers is your source code. Things like texture files, models, and other non-code based portions of your product are subject to whatever other licenses you want to apply to them. Presently, Blender Market only allows you to select one license when you are uploading and submitting your product. If you wish to apply other licenses (e.g., CC, Royalty Free, or Editorial) to cover non-coded elements of your product, you should include the relevant license files within your product download files. 

Please note that none of the above is legal advice. For full license text, please visit the GNU website. For legal advice, get in touch with a lawyer. 

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