[Bf-committers] extension clause

David Jeske davidj at gmail.com
Wed Nov 17 21:16:19 CET 2010

I think this discussion may have run it's course, as I think both sides have
expressed their views. I have a few closing comments. If there are next
steps, I think it's really up to Ton and the Blender Foundation to consider
and propose them, because it is likely only through their action that
something would occur.

On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 5:11 AM, Ton Roosendaal <ton at blender.org> wrote:

> In discussions at Siggraph with some people working in studios, they
> mentioned to have solved it by creating a fully separated "open
> domain" for software, vs their own "closed domain". The code in these
> domains are never allowed to be mixed up. The open domain is not
> allowed to use or link to anything from the closed domain, however the
> closed domain can link to modules in the open domain (but without
> copying any code).

This contradicts the information I see in the industry, and both the legal
and my laymen's understanding of the GPL.  Is there some company that could
publish a case study about how they feel it safe to build closed-source
extensions to GPL code?

In my experience, closed-code is not allowed to link to GPL code, because of
the GPL would then require the closed code to be under the GPL. The issue of
it being allowable without distribution is not useful, because distribution
to contracting shops and other third parties is typically necessary.
Further, a 3d modeling tool can't be adopted at a game or VFX company
without this ability to link with closed source.

Yesterday I shared the details of this topic with a friend in engineering at
a major game studio (which I'd prefer not to name). He re-confirmed what
I've heard many times from him in the past on this topic. Aside from the
other issues that affect their choice of 3d modeling tools, in his opinion
they would be unable to even consider using a tool that they
couldn't safety link with closed source.

Blender is an incredible tool for Internet hobbyists, education, and
open-projects, and it will remain an incredible tool for those situations
whether this issue is addressed or not. Further, industry tools are so far
ahead, and community lock-in is so pervasive, that even if this issue
of safety linking with closed-source was addressed, it still would be an
uphill battle for Blender to make headway against Maya, Max, Houdini, or
custom developed in-house tools (something Blender once was!). This same
pattern is evident in the GIMP community, where despite having tried to
address linking with closed-source, it's still not a serious alternative to
Photoshop for most companies.

That said, I think it's important to consider whether it is a goal of
Blender to be a "professional" 3d tool that can compete in the community
against Maya, Max, and others. If the answer is "yes", then I believe we
must enable linking with closed-source extensions. If the answer is "no",
then Blender can freely proceed to be the best open-source-compatible 3d
modeling package it can be. I believe it is false-hope and a mis-alignment
of goals and action to believe that Blender can make any headway in the
professional 3d community without enabling the ability to link with

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