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Selling Blender on eBay

61

ebay.jpgWe receive regular reports of people or companies who are selling Blender on eBay. What should we, as the Blender community, think of this? I'll explore some of the do's and don'ts of this practice in this article and I'll suggest a course of action if you run into one.

Before I begin, I want to make clear that I'm not against the idea of selling Blender or by making money with it. In fact I applaud it when people build businesses around the product - in the long run this will be good for everyone. But there are some rules to play by.

First off, you should realise that the GPL license allows you to do sell Blender. The GPL is a license that provides freedom (although you can have heated discussions about some of the freedoms it also takes away). As a result, you CAN sell open source software but you always have to provide (access to) the source-code. This is also the basis for most of the Linux distributions, and for many people receiving the software on nicely packaged CD complete with documentation is a plus.

Most of the eBay offers don't mention the fact that Blender is open source however; they sell Blender as if it's their own software. Some companies also re-brand Blender and call it something else, removing the existing copyrights from either the program itself or even from the source-code as well. This is a direct violation of the GPL; you have to leave the existing copyrights intact.

I have also spotted a few offers where people sell Blender along with documentation and/or video-tutorials. Of course, you're free to offer the official Blender documentation as it's also published under an open license (but the same terms as above apply). With the video-tutorials I'm always a bit more skeptical: most of these people don't have a clue about Blender and they simply copy existing material from the web. Of course, this is a straight violation of the author's rights - you cannot distribute someone else's material without his permission.

Finally, something that always gets me is that these people often copy Blender artwork to promote their 'product'. Again, a copyright violation. Remember that if you create something, you are automatically the copyright holder, even if you publish it on the internet. If someone wants to use your work, they'll need to have your permission.

What can you do about this?

So, you've seen someone selling Blender, your blood is boiling and you want to take immediate action. Instead of contacting the little weasel trying to illegally sell Blender, I suggest you are smarter about this: hit them where it hurts. Report this action to eBay as being illegal. When enough people do this, these 'merchants' might get banned from the site. Before you do though, be sure about what you're doing: check the offering against the following checklist:

  • Does it mention that Blender is open source and/or that you will receive the full source-code?
  • Does it use Blender's real name, or have they re-branded?
  • Does the package include documentation or video-tutorials? Did the author of this material give his permission?
  • Does the ad include Blender art that you recognise? Was the artist credited and did he give permission?

If by now you are still convinced that you need to take action, go to the product page on eBay, select the link 'Report this item' at the bottom of the page and fill out the forms. Maybe I'm overly optimistic about this, but I would hope that companies like eBay are sensitive to this approach.

Of course, other auction sites offer similar tools to report suspect transactions. I focused on eBay as this seems to be the largest source of them. I'm very curious to hear about your success stories using this approach.

For more information about the Blender Foundation's take on this, read 'Luxuriosity, scam or open source leech?' by Ton Roosendaal.

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

61 Comments

  1. Yeah anyone stupid enough to try and sell blender should be hung from a tree, shot, gutted and ran over by a buick.

  2. Jacob Randal on

    Bootleg copies of Blender?! No way! :P This is a great article. I hope it helps those scammers get banned. As for the legal and proper Blender auctions, are there any worth bidding on?

  3. luckyhaskins on

    This type of thing drives me nuts! I came across a website a while back selling a Skype dowonload for $70. Those people have no soul.

  4. I don't know which is crazier; selling GPL software with existing builds for every stinking platform or the nuts who BUY it!

    Don't these people do any research, even a single Google search on a product, before getting all bid happy?

    If they want to buy the software then do it right. Buy the Introducing Character Animation with Blender. It's an excellent source of information not to mention developer and community approved. And it's just plain pleasant on the eyes too!

  5. I don't know which is crazier; selling GPL software with existing builds for every stinking platform or the nuts who BUY it!

    Don't these people do any research, even a single Google search on a product, before getting all bid happy?

    If they want to buy the software then do it right. Buy the Introducing Character Animation with Blender. It's an excellent source of information not to mention developer and community approved. And it's just plain pleasant on the eyes too!

  6. @ChrisX: what they did right in your sample link is that they didn't change Blender's name and that they left the message about the open source nature of Blender intact. The use of the artwork is not allowed, of course.

    @BenA: well, there are plenty of people buying Linux distro's aren't there? I would guess that a proper distribution of Blender on a nicely packaged CD, including a library of good tutorials and sample files would be very interesting to many people. I'd think that if you produce such a CD in collaboration with the Blender Foundation you'd get a beautiful and desirable product.

    @Alexander: exactly! Thanks :)

  7. Paying $ 6,30 is a small price for getting introduced to Blender!
    Idea: everyone with an Ebay account should offer Blender for free on ebay.

  8. I wonder how many copies they sell? I would guess most of these Blender vendors are about 14 years old, but who knows.

  9. Yeah!
    In Niel-Forums sometimes appear reports about this...

    All the users get angry, reporting the sale and post about blender is "free" and opensource.

    The people who sell never say what is blender, the oficial web-site, etc.

    These things make me mad :-P

  10. This is actually how I came to Blender. Someone was selling their own video tutorials, and they included Blender on the CD. I think it was a really cheap price, too. They had a link to the Blender.org site, and it was basically an advertisement. I bought the CD, but I downloaded Blender as well. The CD came with sample files and tutorials, and I loved it. It was the 3D Dalek included that actually brought my attention to it.

  11. See the observation of the seller on the bottom of the page!! KKKK it's illarious.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Blender-3D-Modeling-Animation-Rendering-Software-PC-MAC_W0QQitemZ190089295332QQihZ009QQcategoryZ3801QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    Just a clue:
    This auction is in full compliance with all eBay rules and regulations. No copyrights have been violated with this auction. I am authorized reseller for this software. A copy of my Software Distribution License is available upon request.

  12. ummm this has been going on for ages, you can try to ban them but they will just keep coming back so just leave a comment about the merchant, alot of people read them

  13. First, I agree with Ton's take that (1) the GPL is about freedom, and (2) that freedom is *protected* by the GPL. Anybody who strips the GPL or otherwise messes with the true copyright of the software is a malefactor, and should be punished (or at least banned from eBay). However, if somebody wants to sell a legitimate copy of blender with all sources (in order to satisfy the GPL), more power to them.

    As President of the OSI and Vice President of Open Source at Red Hat, I have attempted to work with eBay attorneys to let them know that YES, it is OK to sell Fedora DVDs. Why would anybody want to sell a Fedora DVD when one can download it for free? Well, if bandwidth is very expensive (or almost unavailable), then the DVD is a remarkable convenience. Red Hat is HAPPY when people make a market providing great open source software for others to use and benefit from.

    So: selling Blender as a convenience for people who cannot otherwise benefit from free redistribution we take for granted--GOOD.

    Selling Blender by another name, under false copyrights: BAD.

  14. CubOfJudahsLion on

    They're selling Audacity and VegaStrike (both OSS) in the same conditions. Gotta let the VS guys know...

  15. Here's one that's pretty bad:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Blender-3D-Modeling-Animation-Rendering-Software-PC-MAC_W0QQitemZ190089295332QQihZ009QQcategoryZ3801QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    There's no mention of it being Open Source and, at the bottom, they claim:

    NOTICE: This auction is in full compliance with all eBay rules and regulations. No copyrights have been violated with this auction. I am authorized reseller for this software. A copy of my Software Distribution License is available upon request.

    I'm taking a minute to report this one.

  16. Well I feel that if everything is complient with the GPL and copyright of others work has not been infringed then good luck to them. I only wished that by selling blender and tutorials made under the open source license, that they actually donate part of their profits to the BF to help keep development of blender funded as they are making profits from other peoples hard work.

    That's all I would hope to see from these guys, DONATE TO THE BLENDER FOUNDATION!

  17. That is crazy.. That is crazy. They should at least say it is open source, made by the blender foundation, give a copyright notice, or give all of the money they get straight as a donation to the blender foundation.

    P.S. I know all of this has been said. I am just agreeing with you guys.

  18. blender_anon on

    "...or my personal favorite: have their entrails cut out and BURNED!" -Nicholas Cage in National Treasure

    Actually, the real idiot is the one who buys it!!!

  19. I dont have a problem with Selling Blender either, but mostly, Id like it if it was sold more as publicicty for the Blender Foundation.
    tho it is pretty lowbrow to earn money from work you didnt do........
    Hmm, maybe only the coders should seel it? I dunno..........
    But yeah, at least its good pub(hopefully)

  20. Unfortunately, unless the authors of Blender contact eBay and become a member of their VeRO program that protects copyrights, eBay will allow the software to be sold, whether it's open source or not. As long as it makes money for eBay, they don't care!

  21. What I find just as appalling as selling Blender is using the artists' work to advertise it. From what I have seen on Ebay, the sellers take anything from blender.org to try to"resell" Blender. What about the rights of the artists? They submitted their work to help show the capabilities of Blender and inspire others, not to help some crooks scam people. Is there any way that this can be used to try to at least cause trouble for them? The artists never gave them permission to use the images for commercial purposes.

  22. Those selling copies of Blender who abide by the GPL, who add some value to the CD they sell and also violate no copyrights, those people are good for Blender and should be encouraged. Some of the others may be accidentally good for Blender if they introduce a few people to the software, but they do not deserve to profit from it. If some of us spend a bit of our time doing e-bay searches and reporting these people to e-bay, then some of their trading will get more difficult, and we might harass some of them into at least doing it less often; some may even quit doing it. On the whole though, unless we're willing to spend serious money on lawyers, we won't stop it, just reduce it by an unpredictable amount. I don't think we need to get too worked up though, and I'd recommend you use the energy for Blending instead!

    This sort of thing does the Blender community very little harm in the end, because this community is now too big for a few petty, greedy individuals to have much effect.

    So my view is the best thing we can do, on the whole, is ignore these people. If they ever use one of your images to promote one of their sales without asking, then you can contact e-bay and under the DMCA you can instruct them to remove the offending item from their web site (note, you don't have to ask them, you instruct them). Personally I won't be spending time hunting through e-bay searches to find and report them; as I said already, I'll ignore them and use the energy for Blending instead!

  23. the guy not only sell blender, sell open office, audacity... and have the name...Apex Software, there two sites of Apex Software, ( look in google) but no one sell free source tools... so, someone is making money of ignorance... ¬_¬' Lets Kill HIm!!

  24. rpgsimmaster on

    Ummm... Guys - we can't report "theft of intellectual property" unless we are the owner - so can we as a group actually inform eBay of this problem if the software is GPL, or must we force Ton to do it? (Yeah, in all his spare time...)

  25. rpgsimmaster on

    On that note, can Blender Foundation do it as an entity? And just who is the Blender Foundation anyway?

  26. Michael Crawford on

    @Alexander

    Traligy is simply quoting something extremely funny from a video game (Jagged Alliance II).
    I aggree BTW. And I do endorse violence.
    (that was as quote from the game too)

    @Nicknamz

    I've seen openoffice resold in CompUSA... I was friggin disgusted. It was in the budget rack with all the 5$ cd/s and the font collections.

    @Fire Angel

    I believe the fOSS community already has a legal enforcement divison... somewhere. I forget who.

    @Jasper

    I think you have the right Idea. Just offer it free on E-bay. It's legal, and you can put a disclaimer that it is free software.

  27. There are several resources available when spotting a violation like this. The first is (as stated in the article), check to be certain Blender is being re-branded, and it really is Blender they are selling. They are still violating the GPL if the source code isn't included, or if they don't provide information as to where they can get it (and that the software is licensed under the GPL). If they are violating the GPL (in any way), then contact the people at EBay. If they stop the sale, then all is well. If they refuse or permit the sale, then you have several options. They are as follows: (as they are violating the GPL license, they are all legal): contact Harald Welte at http://gpl-violations.org/. He has a great history of dealing directly with companies violating the GPL licence (as these cyper poachers are clearly doing). You can also contact the Free Software Foundation, and The Electronic Frontier Foundations. If instead of the poaching company, its EBay that you have the problem with (with some kind of complaint that the GPL is not a binding valid license or some silly thing similar to that), contact Dr. Eben Moglen, Columbia School of Law, Columbia University, New York City, New York, USA (http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/) or the Software Freedom Law Center (http://www.softwarefreedom.org/) and get quick results that way. Try the smaller legal sticks first. The latter ones I have mentioned, are a bit like cracking eggs with a sledge hammer.

  28. Just a small point (and I could be wrong), but I think the GPL does allow re-branding, as long as the new product also abides by the GPL. Isn't that how forks start? Not that this is what these people are doing.

    Disgraceful behaviour at any rate.

  29. blendercross on

    Capitalism live on e-bay - if you want sell your grandma!!
    We use e-bay for buy and sell (..old toys from my children and so on ) for a while, it a interesting platform you can handle things like that from home.
    But that someone sell open source soft - thats an hammer! But i think it will be also nut if someone buy it !
    ...and i agree with Traligy!

  30. I think that Fire Angel is right.

    The best to do is keeping our energy for creating with Blender.

    People who buy on Ebay also make searches on the web. One do not come to 3D CG only because he has seen a soft on Ebay.

    So, if you do few searches you'll find the official blender source. No many people will fall in their trap.

    I don't think that these bad people will be rich anyway...

    One day they will copy something from a big company with power and lawyers, and then they will have big troubles!

  31. Man, there are lots of ways to exploit the un-initiated and this is another perfect example of cashing in on an open-source community. I'm not pleased about this at all. I'm all for posting a sale item that only leads to the website in the description.

    Sick to the back teeth about this selling freeware for $15 a pop.

  32. I think the most sad issue about that is our wasted time. But we need to do our part: report EBAY as Bart said. ;)

    We can also bring the site down ourselves. Ok that was just a sugesti... i mean a "joke".

  33. Has anyone thought to offer Blender on Ebay for free? I'm not sure if you can post stuff with a buy it now of $0.00, but that would at least get people to read your product review. Potential "buyers" would then see that Blender really is free and the sellers trying to get money would simply be ignored. It's just a theory. If that didn't work, yeah, kill 'em.

  34. Offering Blender on Ebay isn't ideal... I have sold few products before and it costs to put it up on the list so you'd end up losing more $ and eventually you won't be able to afford to keep it up on the list.

    Although, the idea of showing it as free on ebay is nice. Maybe somebody rich can do that. ;)

    I like the idea of selling Blender along with resources to get started with, but I do not like the idea of not mentioning it as an open-source software and give a link to official blender's site or so. And I'm definitely against people who uses artworks unauthorizated to scam/sell blender with. That bothers me the most!

  35. Actualy it's a bit more complicated.
    Selling the blender brand as no holder to that copyright is illegal.
    So,... if somebody wants to sell blender and it's source he has no choice but to rename it.

    But the cases I've seen on the internet are mostly scams. "GiganticHugh3dProffesional" users miss out on the blender community that they are going to need, because there is just no good documentation for their freshly bought application.

  36. @Anton
    I believe that's the same guy I pointed out, except with a different ebay ID. He's changed the layout and renamed the software but, all of the screenshots used and the wording are exactly the same.

    Either it's the same guy or thery are getting this info from someone selling a "make money on ebay selling free software" kit.

    I've tried contacting ebay and they really won't be of any help. I used to do business on ebay and it seems nothing has changed. The "report" form they provide is beyond inadequate. I got to the part where you type in any additional info before the email is sent and they automatically put the auction's ID number into the email text. Well, after adding my own details of the violation, I clicked send and was informed that the auction's ID was invalid! This is the same number that THEY added to the text! So, I checked the auction page to verify the number. The number in the email was correct. I copy/pasted the number anyway just to be sure. Same result...invalid number.

    So, I went to their Community boards and posted the emails text in the Trust and Safety discussion group. This is where issues like this are discussed. I even explained why I was having to post it there, due to their failing "report" form. Well, it posted with no problems. I went back about an hour later to see if there was any response to the post. Well, guess what? ...The post had been deleted!! I searched for it based on words that I knew were in the post...could not find it anywhere.

    The only solution to this is for the Blender Foundation to step up and defend their own property and licensing requirements. The more time that goes by without their involvement, the more this will continue to grow.

    Heck, if they really don't care, I'll post my own auctions! (just kidding)

  37. Put a banner on the blender page saying: " Did you pay for this software on eBay?... Want your money back? Click here..."
    And then explain to them they can't and what they should have done instead (investing the money to buy a blender book or someting else.)

    Tino

  38. Trevin: Using other artists' artwork is very simply a copyright violation, and it is a crime in every country on the planet and on every planet in the universe, so yes, anyone who sells Blender on EBay using other peoples' artwork is easily jailed - if the artists care about prosecuting the violators.

  39. Buying a computer 1200,- euro
    Windows XP 100,- euro
    Computer magazines 150,- euro

    Come across Blender and finally find something to do with the machine
    PRICELESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. @Jasper:
    I also think your idea is the best way of spoiling the attempts from the black sheep on ebay. Everybody with an ebay account can just offer blender for free and link to the homepage, point out the licenses and ideally also direct the users towards some documentation and introductions guides. ... template anybody?

    Werner

  41. @Joeri: no they don't. All those links automatically get a rel="nofollow" attribute indicating that Google shouldn't follow them. It's an anti-spammer measure.

  42. What the heck!! This totally takes out the whole point of 'Open Source'. It's people like that, that make me mad.. GRRR.... lol... we should get these fools!

  43. It's really weird to see the reaction of some people on this thread. This is exactly the point of open source. The GNU licence allows you to sell the software. FACT. Actually its encoraged. The more people benifit from the GNU software the more likely more people are to contribute back to it.

    Sure if you are computer savy and have the skills to find new open source / GNU / free software you can get it. But just because some guy is selling it why should you be bitter about that? Remember there are a large number of people that can only just about use a computer to visit ebay. Why not introduce these guys to GNU software? If someone is stupid enough to pay for something that is free they will. But once they see that it could have been free they will learn and 'hopefully' find the next piece of software from somewhere else, benifiting another OS project. Everyone wins. And this guy is only making a few dollars for the service, good on him i say. (wish it had been my idea).

    Bottom line. It will always be open source, and because it is everyone can; within few rules; be able to do whatever they want with it. That is great don't you think? Gettig bitter because someone actuly did something with it is kinda against the grain of things. no?

  44. JC, what a stupid arguement. There is no MORAL justification for selling something that you know everybody can get for free. Since there is really no legal arguement against this, besides all the pictures they use, which are all used without permission I'm sure, this is more a MORAL arguement.

    Do the right thing.

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