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12 does a good job in explaining how the GPL works for you as an artist. It answers questions like "Can I sell my Blender creations?" and "Can I license .blend files myself?". While this is not a new page, I found it very informative and as a Blender user I recommend you read it.


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
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.


  1. This is perfection. I always belive everyone needs to be aware of their rights and obligations. Long jargon legal licenses usually leave users in cofusion. I think every software vendor/author should have a similar document to this. great work!

    Now some really interesting bits and opportunities... and/or worries

    -The Game engine(we love you so..)
    even though it's stated that you can link files externally to avoid GPL'n them, it still isn't worth it since now your blender files are out in the open as oppose to having them hidden in the excecutable.
    However if someone were able to write a thirdparty standalone... hint hint!

    -You can name blender what you like
    i've seen people talking about wanting to have blender's name changed, If you are really serious you could set up your own site and name it what you want! shoking isn't it. pointless none the less, but fun. (please remember name is not equal to licence, so still GPL)... but you can sell it.
    hmmm what happend to last guy who tried? but then again he was scum! so you can do it but dont
    a) pretend you created it - thats scum
    b) side step the GPL - thats scum too!
    this is usefull if you change blender i.e create a CAD version, otherwise If you are simply rebranding blender without code change I dont see how you can gain.

    -even under GPL you can still charge for the source code
    hmm 'unreasonable' sounds subjective shouldn't it be that you can only charge for tranfer/storage/access..

    -you can contribute code into blender under your own license
    really? this means blender could borrow code/algorithms from proprietary sources. again pointless, but might be interesting to the Blender foundation some day. escpecially with the video editor, and parts of the game engine...

    -output is your sole property
    yup, this is perfectly clear! just note the exception of standalone game excecutables:-) and code.

  2. "Can I distribute the official releases under my own branding and name?"

    Hmm gonna call it flansbworth 3000 :P

  3. Rabranding has never been a problem in GPL land, it happens all the time with Linux distros (Mint OS is based on Ubuntu, itself based on Debian; CentOS is based on Fedora, itself based on Red Hat, and so on). However, there are simple guidelines for rebranding Blender.

    - You can't use Blender-made renderings in your marketing material (you're just gonna have to hire an artist to make new stuff for you, tho it really can't be all that hard to find someone on BA that can make a splash screen and box art ;) )
    - You have to adhere to the GPL (otherwise, what you're doing is somewhere between plagiarism and piracy)

    I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often with Gimp 'n Blender, actually. What both of those apps could, in fact, use, is a company willing to make their market on them. In both cases, custom content can be created for the "Enterprise" edition (custom brushes in Gimp, custom bytecode Python scripts in Blender) while changes made to the community version go right back to the Blender codebase if Ton 'n co. approves. (same would go for Gimp).

    I know outright that it's hard to sell folks on Gimp due to the name alone. G-Studio or something would be nicer.

  4. I agree with hitechboy722 especially on the point of the stand allone games or linked game files. Until there will be a final solution don't expect anything else than hobby and GLP products in the game engine.

    Also with scripts linking to proprietary programs is not allowed it seems, making commercially plug-ins for blender a no-go.

    These two areas would be helped so much by at least making this LGPL and consider a game run-time as program output. These longstanding issues force the users to make their content GPL or link to plain blend files (in essence having no copyprotection at all and making the game source files available to everyone.)

    Good for GPL, bad for commercial use of these things. I hope in the future we find a solution, like for example encrypting the external blend files and have only the decryptor available under GPL (without the encryption key ofcourse!)


  5. @Logan LGPL is the way to go, one snag though, BGE and Blender share code. In other words liscense incompatibility. Someone suggested that BGE split up, I supported this in some forum and got flamed. lol

    I'm thinking that now since the lines are well drawn it's now safe to actually start using blender in a whole new vareity of ways! starting with something I'm constantly raving on about...

    a real opportunity would be using the 2.5 release, to create a 3D SDK catering to a certain usergroup.
    imagine you wanted to create assets for FlightGear, okay you know the first bits are easy, you just model - blender can do that. But what about when animation is involved or instruments? at the moment this is done by hand coding, trial and error... so heres a scenrio:

    You load up 'Blender for Gears' lol,
    load your project (models),
    create animations (Blender actions) for each part (i.e Gears, Flaps) , then after your done, a python wizard pops up with options and allows you to compile these animations into FlightGears animation XML files and presto, FlighGear animation without a single piece of coding!
    Infact if you build a powerful enough piece of kit, you can have some one only deal with modeling the aircraft and have blender do all the behind the scenes (i.e. folder structures, special mats etc,Blur renders, LOD).
    If you've experienced Gmax with Trainz, you have a feel for what I mean kinda.

  6. I don't think the license is Blender's problem on 3rd party plugins, it's really more the lack of a real plugin architecture. The entire point to plugins is that they're not linking directly to the program, but using a plugin API. Blender doesn't really have a plugin API outside of Python, and that's really the problem. After all, GPL and non-GPL plugins work fine in even the most draconian GPL browsers out there.

    However, the game engine could probably use a LGPL re-licensing, but I don't think the current solution is half bad (e.g. the initial "loading" executable you can release the source to, and all the level data you don't have to do it for), but I guess some sort of option to obfuscate or "encrypt" the level files would work better. After all, nobody wants to release a game and then see someone arbitrarily rip their art assets out.

    However, BGE, IMHO, is akin to the 3D version of "Flash", in that it's a lot better for rapid prototyping than it is for true game development. In that regard, what Blender truly needs is better integration with tools for the popular game engines on the market (Unreal, Source, even Crystal Space, which is kinda there, and Torque would be nice), and of course, even more importantly, the popular formats (Collada support could really use a boost or even a technical modeling guide).

    At the moment, however, I think 2.5 is going to make the real changes that Blender needs badly. Say what you will about Blender's current hotkeys, selling people on the program is a lot easier when said hotkeys can be arbitrarily customized. And while I know that the Blender Foundation is an astoundingly awesome non-profit, I gotta wonder if Ton (or even someone else in the Blender dev ecosphere) needs to start a tiny for-profit that sells Blender support contracts (assuming someone else doesn't accomplish this with a re-branding).

  7. Nice page, but i feel it could have been replaced with something simpler... like:

    Can i make .blend's of games, models, animations (etc) without having to deal with the GPL?


    If i modify or redistribute blender, or otherwise struggle to make a python script plugin for it, can i then sell it without dealing with the GPL?


    Disclaimer: This document is no substitute for legal advice and just represents a subset of possible interpretations of the law and the GPL. For a more complete FAQ please refer to or

    Still, kudos to the author for taking the time to write up this nice summary of the GPL. :)

  8. @Muki: I assume your talking of plugins on the scale of fluid sims and fur etc like on Maya. I've always wondered weather or not it was blender architecture that dint allow for plugins or it was a lack of interest from plugin devs.

  9. well A Python script linking to a proprietary compiled c code is not allowed I thought.

    Making the BGE LGPL would save a lot of trouble. The blender player is already a separate entity found in the Blender folder. Problem is having each dev past and present who worked on the BGE permission to re-license it. Until there is some GPL encryption/decryption for blend files it's not interesting from a commercial point of view.

    Better support for external 3D engines /game engines is good, but most solutions are very expensive even for indie developers.

    Blender 2.5 will be huge, from a GUI standpoint as well for the new features. Blender is my favorite Open Source app of all time and I use it alot for different purposes. I just haven't emerged myself in the game engine as much, mainly because of the legal restrictions it currently has, although for GPL games it would be very nice.

    Sadly the current reactions to people wanting to make non-GPL licensed games by the masses is more or less the notion that commercial or even closed game content is bad. Some kind of encryption would solve most of the problems I think but best would be native support inside blender for decrypting the blend files on the fly. Sadly I'm not good enough to program this kind of feature :(

  10. Benjamin Kay (formerly hitechboy722 / HTB) on

    @Logan BGE is actually blender thats why there could be a license conflict.

    I know I'd get stoned for this but... the goal of the BGE should now be aimed at becoming a stepping stone for those wanting to learn game development. then later on users can go on to crystal space etc... It would be alot of work to try and restructure and re-write and re-license the BGE for purposes of a full scale comercial grade game engine.
    It is in fact easier to improove upon Blenders capability as an asset creation suite, as proof you can already see that alot of game studios have used blender for this very purpose!
    (this is the worst part, stone me now..)
    The BGE may also want to establish itself as a pseudo-indipendent project.
    If it does then hopefully:
    >it doesnt have to compete for development resourses with blender and therefore grow more rapidly,

    >it will run speciications (design goals) indipendent from blenders, alowing it to develop like any other game engine

    >blender will have more resources dedicated to meeting its specifications as an modeling/animation/rendering platform

    >finally It will make a complete re-write and re-license a pratical option for the BGE.

  11. A gimp is a dressmaker's tool. It's also (relatedly) an archaic term for something beautiful or well-formed. Calling a crippled or deformed person "gimp" was sort of like calling a big person "tiny" or a tall person "shorty" -- except nobody remembers the old meaning anymore.

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