[Bf-committers] extension clause

Lorenzo Pierfederici lpierfederici at gmail.com
Mon Nov 15 09:46:39 CET 2010

Hi David,

do you have any specific use case in mind? Some examples could help make
this conversation more practical... if we stay too much on the theoretical
side I'm afraid we won't reach any conclusion (too few lawyers on this list)

I've been working for the past five years in VFX and animation studios,
everything from small to big to super-huge, and in my experience there are
different types of companies interested in developing software around a 3d
suite, each with its own approach to distribution:

- studios:
studios are (usually) only interested in spitting out frames at the highest
quality and in the most efficient possible way. They develop an incredible
amount of software internally, but are not interested in selling it outside
because it would take too much hassle to polish it enough for selling...
it's more profitable for them to work on the next movie! But sometimes they
do distribute it outside, and when they do is almost always as open source:
This kind of companies are not scared of hacking around gpl software for
internal use, they do it all the time.

- spin-offs:
sometimes a small group of developers that created an interesting piece of
software inside a studio ask permission to spin it off in a new company to
sell it (granting the studio some benefit in the process). This happened for
example with Massive, Mudbox and many others.
In this case they must be very careful with what ends up in their products
(either open-source or studio-copyrighted), but it's usually standalone
products not linking to anything.

- plugins developers:
they develop specific plugins like Shave&Haircut, usually for more then one
3d application. Of course they are the most interested in linking
proprietary software to 3d suites. And this kind of plugins are very widely
used in the industry, both in small and big studios.

You are actually saying that it would be a good thing that some wise guy can
> simply take a portion of that hard work and incorporate it in his closed
> source and claim it as his own. How's that benefits the community and in
> the
> end to that guy that has actually created that code?

It's not about ripping existing Blender code in a proprietary software, it's
about writing _additional_ specific, high quality code like Shave or a 3d
tracker or a "shattering glass" effect (you name it) as an extension, and
sell it as a proprietary plugin.

Even though I'm a huge supporter of open source, I think that being open to
that kind of proprietary extension would benefit Blender, because it could
help increase a bit its adoption in the studio world, where there are lots
of resources to contribute back to it in terms of knowledge, experience,
code, money, etc.

Every time I go to work with my Blender tshirt it sparks some remarks, some
questions, some comments, and these guys are _very_ good and _very_
experienced artists, developers and managers... there is interest around
Blender among professionals (and you all know that), let's take advantage of

On Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 11:11 PM, David Jeske <davidj at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 6:29 PM, Martin Poirier <theeth at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > > Don't make the mistake of thinking that "doing it in secret" is a
> > good enough answer for a company.
> >
> > It's not a matter of secret or not. The GPL is a distribution license, if
> > you don't distribute your modifications, you can do whatever you want.
> >
> > That means any company can start modifying Blender and using it
> internally,
> > as long as they don't distribute the modifications externally, licensing
> is
> > not an issue.
> >
> I see that a few here believe this interpretation. My main goal in entering
> this conversation was to educate and explain why this is absolutly not the
> case in practice.
> In the real world, no company I'm aware of will link their propritary code
> with GPL code, because it creates too much risk. I respect the folks here
> who believe it's not important to cater to corporate usage of Blender. I
> don't agree with that perspective, but I respect it. However, folks who
> believe that because of their 'layman's read of the GPL' that most software
> companies will link their own propritary code with GPL code are simply
> ignorant, misinformed, or both.
> Companies are made up of individuals, and it's not easy to always keep a
> watchful eye over everything that happens. It is easier to have a safe rule
> like "don't link with GPL code" than it is to assure that GPL code never
> accidentally gets linked into a distributed binary, thus triggering some
> legal requirement to GPL and release company source code. What little
> courtroom time the GPL has seen comes in the form of the Tivo cases, and
> companies don't wish to be on the other end of this fight. They simply
> steer
> clear of it.
> If you don't believe companies using Linux and MySQL helped those tools
> become successful, or you don't feel that the same cycle is important for
> Blender, I can see why this issue wouldn't be terribly important to you.
> However, if you think corporate usage of Blender is importantant, don't
> pass
> off this as a non-issue simply because your personal read of the GPL tells
> you so. If you don't take my word for it, talk to corporate council for a
> medium size software company. They will explain to you why they recommend
> against linking with GPL code.
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