Cycles render engine released with permissive license

Blender”s ray-tracing engine “Cycles” has received wide acclaim as a production rendering system, for its quality, speed and having integrated industry standard libraries.

As of today the Cycles source code license has been changed from GNU GPL to the Apache License version 2.0. This is a permissive license that allows Cycles to be linked and used with any program, including commercial software and in-house software at studios.

The design and purpose of Cycles always has been to work as an independent and reusable rendering engine. When Cycles was added to Blender two years ago, we decided to release it under GNU GPL first, specifically to ensure it would develop into a well integrated production rendering system for Blender. With that target to be established well, it”s now time to find out how Cycles could work outside of Blender too.

We hope this move would help Cycles grow as a project in the long term, as the project could attract more contributors and might be easier to use for studios under the new license. With the release of various libraries by movie studios like OpenEXR, Open Shading Language, OpenSubdiv, PTex and OpenVDB, which we use or plan to use in Blender, we also think it would be nice to contribute something back under a similar permissive license. As Cycles is reasonably stand alone and integrates many of these libraries already, it”s a good candidate to share similarly with everyone.

Note that Blender Foundation and Blender Institute remain committed to further developing Cycles as a render engine for Blender. We welcome other developers to integrate it in other applications, and especially to get involved with the Cycles development team at
We also remain fully committed to keep Blender itself being available and developed as a GNU GPL project. For an end-user tool like Blender that gives the best protection to ensure the program remains available in a 100% free and open domain. For stand-alone libraries however, the BSD or Apache has proven to work excellently, also for Blender.

Evaluating which permissive license to use has been reviewed carefully. There”s a number of choices we could have selected as well, such as BSD or MIT. However, we already have core Cycles code under the Apache license, mostly related to BVH building and traversal, and SIMD optimizations. We also plan to integrate OpenSubdiv, wich is Apache License 2.0. Even though some of the Cycles code is under the BSD license, combined together it would be determined by the Apache license anyway, so it seems like the logical choice.

All contributors to Cycles have been contacted and have agreed on the license change. Many thanks to everyone for making it possible!

Brecht van Lommel
Ton Roosendaal
Blender Institute / Blender Foundation

Contact info:
Blender Foundation
Get Involved as developer

Image credits:
1)  Blender screenshot, Cycles preview rendering and Node Shaders
2) “Power Mouse” – By
3) “Tears of Steel” –
4) Video of Cycles in action for automotive rendering, by E-mirage

Images can be used for sharing this article, provided it mentions the credit.

  1. All of blender should be available without restrictions. I doubt you will get much adoption if you keep the cycles code base within blender, just saying it is freely available doesn’t help when it is included in a code base that is now infected with gpl3. These days companies won’t start developing using free software these days without getting legal approval.

  2. Well, I’m a little confused about one thing: today Cycles is licensed under the GPL, how to change the license to a more restrictive license, since the GPL license itself does not allow it?

  3. Will this in any way help AMD GPU support? They are projected to have 40% of the GPU market, and I think it would be a shame for both Blender and AMD to not support GPU acceleration.

    From this thread, it looks as if AMD is working hard. I hope the Blender coders are able to help.

    Thank you for the hard work (I’m sure I cannot fathom how hard) you’ve put into Blender.

  4. I hope not to look like selfish. But I don’t think this is fair. As long as I know, the industry never contribuited to Blender development. Instead, they always attract the users to buy their products. They are companies. They live for money. I understand that. But I think we are giving weapons against us.

    When I say it’s not fair, I’m saying fair to all of you of Blender Institute, who’s giving all you sweat to deliver great functionality all free.

    I always make donations for the Blender projects (and will keep doing). I don’t think the big companies will help Cycles development for free. I believe they can enhance the product just to their softwares. I’m not against this choice (who am I to do that), but I think you guys are, like we say in Brazil, “Shooting you own foot” (it means something like: “working against yourself”.

    Sorry about my bad english…



  5. Interesting move, opens up new doors. Make sure to reach out into academia and business-oriented research centers. OpenCV for instance has benefitted massively from this kind of interest, and I don’t see why Cycles cannot get similar benefits.

  6. That’s really a sad choice, I am really supprized it was decided without any voting of artistis actually using blender. There were already shameful attempts to sell blender, now it will be legal to do with its rendering engine. Again shame on guys that made this happen. I belive this project wont be as it was anymore, and most people willing to sell their art, will be forced into buying commercial engines.

    Lobby from companies willing to sell Blender made it happen ? It’s also sad that there is no objection from the all the authors that contributed.


    • Nothing changes for Blender really, nor for its users. Shameful attempts to sell Blender remain just shameful attempts, nothing changes here either.

      You also have to take my word that there’s been zero lobbying from any company related to this decision. I don’t know if or when any company would pick up Cycles even.

      My (and every developer’s) commitment to Blender and its users has been proven well over the past decade I would say. That commitment is visible via actions and contributions, and as for any blooming and successful open project: the people who contribute and make things happen are also the ones who can decide on issues. I think so far everyone has done that with a high sense of ethics, keeping well track of ‘the users’ out there, and happily cooperate with artists on building this awesome 3D creation pipeline.

    • Let me make one thing clear Maeo.
      The decision to re-license Cycles was made by us, the Cycles’ developers, who contributed a lot of time/code to the engine. There was no third party influence.

      I guess you haven’t read the blog post thoroughly, the reasons for the change are explained there very well.

      And as Ton stated several times here already, nothing changes for Blender users. Blender remains free and GPL, and Cycles will continue to be developed and remain part of Blender.


  7. nature to build the planet Earth,
    are made many appearances where credits are brought to fame.

    A bird builds its nest,
    but portions of this nest were made with twigs, tree
    the tree to generate twig were made of minerals, water, dead bodies and waste products of plants and animals.

    so even the space bring meteorites that contribute to the destruction of this creation.

    instead of social groups live,
    a whole chain of events can be traced in a new war vistual for credits.

    because efforts before they cut down the tree were made in the license cycle of greed,
    then the economy of cavemen, “from” a new license to be developed in internet registry.

    the basic idea here, I say:
    all digital content should be registered as originally produced
    and be recognized as database, idenpendente,
    the original production and its derivations made at time of upload.
    “war” in interests of accounts created on the basis of the availability of the internet,
    credits these hostages of the new productions of system fault.

  8. Why not LGPL?

    • LGPL would only allow to link the library as we release it. Its sources remain copyleft and have to follow the GPL guidelines.

  9. I don’t know if a lot of you out there really know how the programmer’s mindset works. Majority of programmers (albeit not all) are going to be ecstatic about the licence change and the opportunity to play around with a new toy. And most programmers know that an insane amount of effort goes into building such a library and making it available for use.

    As such most of them want to find a way to give back. This might be as simple as just reporting any bugs that they find in the software, or even repairing the bugs that they find in the software, or it could go as far as actually adding new features. Or it could be that a developer doesn’t add anything to the code, but rather spends hours trying to figure out how to use it, and once he’s got it down, he’ll write up documentation to make it easier for other developers to figure out how to use the library, or if not that then perhaps at least he’ll answer related questions on a forum to help get the other developers through a rough patch.

    I’ll admit that it would be great if they took the time to add new features to the library, but any of these things is greatly beneficial. I’d say that even if all that was gained out of this was heavier use of the code and a lot of bug reports, then I’d still say that it’s worth it because as a developer I’d say there’s nothing I find more tedious than digging through the code trying to find the bugs hidden in the edge cases.

    So I say well done guys. I think that this is pretty cool.

    • GPL forbids it?

      • No it does not. But GPL does not allow for commercial use, or at the very least it keeps most businesses from ever even looking at it. Programmers need to pay the bills, just like everyone else. And while money can be made through donations, it is a lot less reliable, and as such a lot more stressful.

        I myself really do enjoy open source, and I’ve contributed to open source projects here and there, but majority of the time that I spend writing code I do at work on commercial software.

        Now, if at work I’m using a library that has the Apache licence and I run in to a bug, I will at the very least report that bug, and if our software really needs the functionality that has the bug, I will take time to fix that bug. If I’ve taken time to fix the bug, quite often it is going to be best for me to commit the bug fix so that the fix can be in the original project so that I won’t have to deal with merge conflicts down the road. It saves myself and my company time that way. And as everyone knows, time is money, and companies tend to want things that save them money.

        Now if that same library were under GPL, my company would never have used the library, and as such I would never have had the opportunity to find the bugs and potentially fix them.

        So, yes, a lot of companies will potentially hold on to new features that they add themselves, but most of them will submit bug fixes that they make (or at least log the bugs that they find so that Cycles developers can then fix them, which is still useful).

        All in all, the Apache licence leads to more use, and more use leads to a better product.

        • Linux kernel is also on GPL license, how is that it is also used in very often and there are lots patches and bug fixes ? Not to mention other GPL software like Gnome or KDE ? No tall companies share fixed code, in fact most don’t. Fix just lands in local repository, because its easier, to get the problem solved and to move on.

          What Apache does, it permits selling software that is the work of other poeople contributing in their spare time. That’s what companies want to.
          Earn money fast for free work of thers, and release the same product with bug fixes but for huge money.

          • Blender’s “kernel” is also GPL. The program works fine with it. Blender is also free to be used in commercial environments – and used a lot even. However, that’s for the binary, not its sources.

            A reason why Linux as GPL is so successful is mostly because the GPL allows closed software to run on it. GPL explicitly has an exception for that. GPL programs also are allowed to run on closed OSes (Windows, OS X).

            The reason why companies keep GPL away is only when they need the source code, because of its copyleft feature. You need to keep GPL code totally separated from own internal development, with a big firewall to prevent mixing. That is just not very practical for them – similar to getting access to closed source code from another company under strict NDA and with strict requirement to not mix it with own code ever. Even though this happens… it puts quite a big overhead on managing it well.

            So – where Linux as Operating System allows closed/commercial development on it (because of the GPL exception), Blender as a 3D creation pipeline doesn’t. That makes a comparison between Linux and Blender just not very valid.

          • Exactly what Ton said. Essentially the GPL works beautifully for standalone software. And I’m glad that we have such software. Honestly, the world would be worse off without GPL licensed software. But just because it works so well in so many different situations does not mean that it works in all situations.

            While great for standalone software, it is a less than ideal license for a software library. I still say that this is a good move on the part of Ton and the Blender Foundation, and I still say that majority of software engineers would agree with me.

  10. The argument seems to be that it will allow commerical companies to use Cycles thus allowing in an attempt to make it a standard? So is Blender Foundation saying that their focus now is shifting towards market penetration with Cycles? I ask because while yes MIT does “ask or encourage” companies to give back their code, there is no guarantee they need to do so. How does giving Autodesk access to Cycles for free give Blender Foundation any kind of competitive advantage? Yes, Blender is free, but that being the case many studios are still using very expensive pieces of software. Why would they come to Blender when in the future there may be a Cycles plugin for their pre-existing production pipeline?

    And if the motivation to change the license is so that commerical companies will be able to use the code with out the requirement to share their changes, why not just put Blender under a permissive license too? I mean the same arguments used for justifing the change in the Cycles license could be used to justify a permissive license change in Blender.

    I hope the change works out for the Blender Foundation as they’ve have made good decisions over the life of the projects. However, I think it’ll just be a matter of time before we see Cycles community version, and Cycles Commercial version.

    • I understand your doubts, the replies we gave to other posters have handled that sufficiently now.

      But to reconfirm: Blender is and stays a GNU GPL project. Both because it’s working well and because past and current contributors will prefer to keep it that way. An individual library license won’t change this.

  11. Ton and Brecht: Thanks for monitoring this thread and answering everyone’s concerns. The best part of Blender has always been dev dedication.

    I for one can’t wait to see in what other 3D package Cycles will end up first.

  12. after all, as long as we can use it for free even for commercial purposes, it’s okay. : D
    I mean, as long as it remains open source, its no problem ;)

  13. Why not a dual license model and actually sell licenses for use in closed source while still maintaining it as GPL code? This is what Trolltech did with Qt back in the days.

    • Blender Foundation (or Blender Institute) does not have any intention to go into software licensing business ever. I think that would put us for real in danger of alienating our users and lose credibility as a Free Software and Open Source supporting organisation.

      • That’s good news. I know from inside sources that Disney is thinking of switching a good size of their game development model/texture part to blender, and some employees have already moving to it by porting their scripts(modeling, animation etc) to blender. We will have some cool new stuff soon. Hope they develop for cycles as well even if that is quite unlikely.

  14. this gonna push blender’s users to donate more for not being left behind

  15. Permissive licenses are bad. They just don’t increase count of opensource projects and don’t lead to .

    Anyone telling that GPL is bad because it’s a “virus” just wants to sell copies. Selling copies of anything is bad.

    IMHO if a company doesn’t want to use a GPL component – they should write their own and f**k off free software.

  16. I am software engineer myself and I have understanding of licenses. This is good decision and opening it for other is very good idea. I am hoping it could bring innovation to the market as it would allow small companies to deliver their own products faster because they don’t need to re-develop render engine anymore.
    Great example of success of similar move – is Bullet physics engine. It is proven to work and contributions from big companies is part of it’s success. Besides, BF is main developer of Cycle, so license change won’t really affect it’s development pace.

    And below my futile attempt to dismiss any fears:
    Word “open” is not antagonistic to commercial… please look at IBM, RedHat, Google and other companies. They all drive open source community while providing great tools and systems. For example – Blender benefited from Google Summer of Code more than once.
    Besides big corporations have already invested huge amount of money in their own render engine and have built strategy around it. It is highly unlikely that they would abandon all that right now.

    Lets not allow our fear of big corporations to take this opportunity from small teams to deliver their own great and innovative products.

    • While writing above – I forgot to thank you all for all your work and dedication. You are very motivated and dedicated to your project and you deliver great quality. I believe BF, Blender and it’s Community is one of the (rare) success stories of Open Source “world”. Hope that you will continue with the same determination and success, while having fun doing it.


  17. Wow great new now the competition begin with some big……

  18. TON says:
    Aug 19, 2013

    The coolest thing about sharing is not to demand a return.
    It’s strong, self-confident and a positive stress-free attitude.
    …the real “we” who share Cycles are confident enough to not have a problem…

    BRECHT says:
    Aug 18, 2013

    Cycles is reasonably stand alone and integrates many [open-source] libraries…

    What no one has mentioned, thus far, is Cycles’ programmability by the end user,
    in at least three ways:
    the node tree;
    the Open Shading Language;
    Python, via PyDrivers, as soon as bug #35863 gets resolved.
    I’ve been a fanboy of LuxRender,
    to the point that I’ve paid Paolo Ciccone for his DAZ Studio plugin,
    and for his videos on how to make the best use of that combination,
    but I am seduced by Cycles’ programmability,
    to the point that I am no longer considering any other renderer.

    Try this: turn off all the lights,
    and see what wonders you can produce
    with nothing but vector math and emission!

    So, yes, I sympathize with the fearful,
    but the most significant consequence of this license change might be
    that people start publishing all kinds of clever materials
    in a way that Cycles understands;
    i.e., that Cycles’ programmability becomes a de facto standard.
    De facto standards are a Holy Grail for just about any enterprise.

    There are already people, other than myself, who export
    DAZ scenes to Blender, for the sake of rendering with Cycles!

    • P.S.

      Cycles’ programmability gives you access to coordinates and tangent space,
      at every rendering point, convertible across several coordinate systems.
      You can define a material that is sensitive to the size of a mesh,
      or the placement of its center. In Blender,
      you can drape a surface onto the outer surface of a scalp, or a sandcastle,
      with the drape such that its tangent space makes a continuous vector field
      (e.g. derive the drape from a grid); you can keep that quality
      even if you make the faces of the drape independent of each other
      (e.g. extrude individual, control-I, delete),
      and now you can dupliface your custom-built pair
      —your {mesh, material} pair— over the entire drape,
      and render that as your sandcastle, lamb, griffin, or whatever
      (the duplicated mesh being a pebble, a tuft, a Py-driven range of feathers, etc.).

      Someone might start publishing images that fire the viewers’ imagination,
      based on such a “draping” technique, technique which ties in to Cycles,
      but also to Blender, and particular drapes
      (e.g. feather-based hair for Victoria, for Genesis, …)
      might show up for hobbyists and professionals to use,
      people who, if not familiar with Blender already, may be tempted to try it,
      even if only as a stepping-stone to some other CG program.

    • So, yes, I sympathize with the fearful,
      but the most significant consequence of this license change might be
      that people start publishing all kinds of clever materials
      in a way that Cycles understands;
      i.e., that Cycles’ programmability becomes a de facto standard.
      De facto standards are a Holy Grail for just about any enterprise.


      And we have a winner, good sir, you win this thread!

  19. I have a question,
    for example, if maxon(it could be anyone, just an example) takes upgrades and closes their version of cycles, everyone see the upgrade and a X coder decide to replicate the upgrade and release it open for blender.
    If the code from the X coder its equal to the code from maxon`s closed version, does maxon has the right to take credit on the X coder code?

    • I’m not going to try to answer the question about when you’re allowed to copy behavior of other software, that’s too complex for me to give a good answer on, but this doesn’t seem very different from the general issue that there are dozens of render engines that behave very similar and might copy each other.

      In practice the source code would not be equal, unless X coder actually has access to the closed version source code and copied it from there, it’s just very unlikely that you would end up with the same code for anything nontrivial.

  20. Good news, tks to all the community that make blender possible to exit like it is.

  21. This is a good thing and here’s why:

    Why does it make sense to assume that it even matters whether another company takes Cycles and makes a proprietary (better) version? The logical flaw of that assumption is that it requires that “our” Cycles is never developed further. We know that will never be the case until something new comes along; Blender’s Cycles will still undergo continuous parallel development to anything else.

    And how does any technology like this advance anyway? Someone comes up with a good idea and implements it, and others figure out how they did it!

    If another big company improves cycles, our future developers are bound to copycat the same improvement for our version of Cycles.

    Another thing to consider is that certain features other render engines have cannot be easily reproduced in Blender/Cycles because they are meant as solutions for another software packages with tools that don’t necessarily follow the Blender/Cycles way of working.

    If someone develops something proprietary for Cycles, it stands to reason that it would be easier to integrate something similar quickly.

    This can only be a good thing.

  22. This is a big move and I already see blender being integrated into various Animation and VFX pipeline across studios.
    Good news for all of us.
    Regards to Ton and Brecht.

  23. This is the missing piece. Blender is going to take over after all. High-end packages let you customize the interface to match Blender out of the box these days. Now you will be able to use the same renderer. More and more plugins are available to integrate Blender into the industry standard packages.

    Once everyone is reading and writing files, integrating plugins and allowing you to choose your menus, Blender begins to become the most attractive choice, considering it has the same features as any major commercial package, doesn’t destroy your bank account, and the interface has been the biggest barrier to acceptance before now. That’s no longer the case.

  24. I’ve never chimed in on any subject here before, but I feel compelled at this time to say something as a long-time career animator and Blender (and more recently Cycles) user.

    To use free and open software (the more deeply, the better) IS to contribute something back – especially when you credit the software and organization behind it. In the case of Blender, to create art and to express oneself in any meaningful way using this incredible piece of software is huge. This software’s usefulness mustn’t only be defined by how many people it’s taught or brought on board as code contributors, but certainly by the artists and animators who create on it and drive it into directions never imagined by the people who created and contributed to the software in the first place.

    In the case of Cycles moving to an Apache license, the arguments of the nay-sayers are completely understandable, but instead of prematurely assuming the negative as a foregone conclusion, I would suggest the follwing to my fellow animators and artists: use the hell out of Cycles as implemented in Blender and really push it beyond what anyone thought was possible. Who cares what other companies end up doing with it? The greater and more compelling the images we create with it, the more ingenious, perhaps yet unknown brilliant coders will want to contribute. Never mind what individual studios will and won’t share of their modifications. Artists are the ones who push the limits of software, anyway. You’ll only lose it if you don’t use it.

    If any of you doubt the power of animation to move coders into action, ask the many coders who contribute to Blender how they got turned on to doing so in the first place. After so many years of ‘being in it’, I really don’t think this is naive. There’s a reason why Tony DeRose and others at Pixar have singled out Blender and its community as the ones to watch to becoming ‘the next Pixar’.

    Food for thought.

    (Sorry for being too verbose ;)

  25. Sounds great!

    And Ton is still replying personally :0]
    ‘my hero!

    It’s very interesting, the philosophy of licenses. I imagine it’s going to play a fundamental role in all of life in the near future, with intellectual property holding more and more potency.

    The idea that the implementation (interface) is also essentially part of the art (and should be more protected) is something I’m going to think more about: That it is part of “the manner” and therefore identity, with strict mathematics (of the libraries) owing to something more universal, but still not yet completely divorced from art (the various engines).

    ‘cool news!

  26. I think that Maxon, Newtek, Autodesk et al, will not touch this, it maybe cause a user demand to ‘open’ their internals. But independent developers may well do so, and charge for their work, as would be expected with a commercial integration.

    What I fail to see with all due respect is any gain for the blender foundation. I don’t see those users of commercial software supporting the foundation, I don’t see the independent developers being required to give any percentage of the profits to the foundation.

    I think it may well lead to a demand to “strip” of Blender as independent developers see an opportunity to re-purpose code for profit, irrespective of license types, or by user request. Most users and developers in the commercial world are not fully aware of all the variants and subtleties that is “open source”. Interestingly I watch Revolution OS, where even they had a hard time explaining the GNU & Linux relationship.

    While I can see the altruistic aspect from the foundations perspective. I would like to know more about the rationale behind this decision.

    • The more developers use your code, the more devs might send upstream.

      See Apple and Samsung as an example: The two companies fight in courts over patents, but they still are working together on Webkit…

      • that’s as i pointed out, that’s one very BIG might, and little or incentive to do so, eg whats stopping someone making changes and keep it ‘internal’?

        I would have recommend that as well as opening it to all, a requirement that any changes would have to be returned.

        As for Apple and Samsung, you fail to see that both of those companies are commercial, and have good reason to work together. I think if you look at the contact there is a section called – “reciprocity”.

    • What’s the gain for any open source project that’s available as BSD, MIT or Apache? Such a discussion just leads to politics or strategy or personal beliefs… or the OSI versus FSF debate.

      Brecht started with Cycles on his own initiative and in his own time. When he proposed to add this to Blender he suggested to use a permissive license. Together we agreed on releasing it as GPL first, to make sure it matures well as Blender project. For me it was about time now to respect his original wish, and – provided every contributor agreed on it – to re-license it.

      Within we value contributors and their freedom a lot. Everyone can commit under own copyright even. Everyone should agree on GNU GPL compliant contributions, but when individuals prefer another more permissive license that’s acceptable too. We’re a relaxed bunch of people here, united by a passion to create a free and open source 3D creation suite – independent of which OS you use, or what your opinions are on open source policies in general.

      • A more permissive license doesn’t strangle Cycles development on the Blender side of things, but does open up the POSSIBILITY of other studios and software companies contributing *something* back to the public that is ‘battle-hardened’ in high-end productions. Otherwise, under other more limited licenses, they may not even entertain this idea.

        Still, to assume that this license change will negatively impact or impede the Blender community from enjoying continued great development of Cycles render engine is to assume we’re losing something we never had in the first place.

  27. Isn’t there any license which allows a company to sell the modified work but also share the source code they made? That way they can make money but also give something back.

  28. @trancerobot
    “I don’t particularly mind the prospect of spending money for something better should it become available.”
    This part. You don’t undertand what i am saying. Cycles+ won’t be there for Blender but for other packages.

    @Nabil Stendardo
    “companies whose business model is selling licenses for software”
    are outdated. Such business model goes away, its support that should cost money, its development fund that should support the developers, its the training curses/schools that can help funding. Why is RedHat making money just fine with such model but others can’t? Subscribtion model is bs, people don’t get for what they pay and i know many people that stop paying Autodesk each year.
    And why does BF needs to help them for a slim chance that they will help us? Its a slim chance. I don’t want to buy Cinema4D to use Cycles+ while Blender will always have Cycles. Because they can port everything from Cycles to their Cycles+ but we won’t get anything in return.

    Thank you. Atleast i am not the only one.

    • The coolest thing about sharing is not to demand a return. It’s strong, self-confident and a positive stress-free attitude.

      You had Cycles totally for free without contributing back to it. That attitude you now also predict others will follow – like Autodesk or Cinema4d. Quite understandable. But the real “we” who share Cycles are confident enough to not have a problem with that. Not with your attitude either.

      • Ton,

        I can only thank you and all contributors to cycles for your decision and your generosity. I am optimistic that this will benefit everyone involved, both open and closed source software.

      • I am not a coder though. If i could do anything good for Blender i would. The only thing i am doing for Blender is sharing my experience with others and slowly pushing it to production in some small companies for some tasks ensuring blenderheads will have more chances utilizing their skills with Blender on the job and not just for fun.

        I am not saying you shouldn’t do what you want because you already did and you have full rights to do so. I am just not sharing the positive beliefs it will bring, it might bring but it might backfire as well.

        Also in this thread Belich asked a good question. What if by some miracle, company A will write a code for their version of Cycles that will closely ressemble the one that original Cycles will have later. I mean, its programming, you always search how to do things better, faster etc. If the code will be almost identical or share the same algorythm will Blender Cycles retain the rights on such code or will it be impossible to use it and we’ll have to make step back to inferior algorythm/code path?

        • Quote: “The only thing i am doing for Blender is sharing my experience with others and slowly pushing it to production in some small companies for some tasks ensuring blenderheads will have more chances utilizing their skills with Blender on the job and not just for fun.”

          If you want Blender to be used in companies than Apache2 Cycles is a good thing because the companies will already know the main renderer of Blender by the versions for Max, Maya, C4D etc. that will emerge ;)

  29. All of blender should be available without restrictions. I doubt you will get much adoption if you keep the cycles code base within blender, just saying it is freely available doesn’t help when it is included in a code base that is now infected with gpl3. These days companies won’t start developing using free software these days without getting legal approval.

    Lawyers have been recommending companies stay away from gpl3 code. This is the main reason for the migration to clang after gcc4.2 (and why gcc4.2.1 has stayed in usage so long) after later updates of gcc4.2 adopted gpl3. I expect commercial interest in blender to start dropping as news of the gpl3 addition start to get around.

    • The only company i know thats against GCC is Apple, thats why they invested in Clang. Nothing wrong with it. But in your words it sounds like all companies are against GPL3+ code which is not true.
      GCC allows to make binary whatever license you want thats why companies doesn’t care much, except for Apple who have it in their own OS. And since compilers are probably the most hard task in programming world and GCC has quit small list of developers that knows whats going on there there is nothing wrong in investing some money to support Clang that is made to work with LLVM by design.
      And someday when Clang will start making as fast binaries as GCC does it will be used by everyone as well.

      But Blender and Cycles have different story altogether, so i can’t see how GCC/Clang story is relevant to begin with.

      • Not just Apple, a number of companies that use FreeBSD as a basis for their commercial products are refusing to accept gpl3 code in the base OS. This has also motivated the push to completely remove all gpled code from the base OS. FreeBSD is working towards a gpl free base for the next major release. I’m not sure the other BSD’s are making the same amount of effort.

  30. There has been a key problem for game engine making a stand alone players for like iphone. markit.

    So cycles under apache will allow blenderplayer clone to be made more compadible with blender.

    The reality the user were losing already.

    • There’s no relationship at all between Cycles and our Game Engine.

      • No direct relationship yes.

        Doing custom cut seens at higher grade than game engine and so on come possible. Like rendering the players own chars with there customised dress in.

        Note I said more compadible with blender. Game engine in blender can reach out by python and have something custom rendered.

        The indirect releationship is key to good engaging cut seens at times.

  31. what a sad choice, now people that produce proprietary sw, so sw that is against users, have more power, being able to use also the Cycles one in addition to the proprietary part.
    a) free software is damaged, since people that want to create GPL software have no more the advantage of having Cycles against proprietary software
    b) proprietary software is enforced, and being it against users (it subjogates users leaving them helpless at the mercy of the developer) users are loosing

    so again sad day and really suicide decision, having your own code used more widespread but against you does make you happier?

    • Free Software (GPL) is a useful and safe harbor for Blender. It works well for us, in practice and conceptually. My commitment to FSF and GNU GPL is based on that, but not based on a personal political decision that it’s the only acceptable way to be active with software.

      I think our fellow free/open source developers at BSD or Apache have a good working concept too. I even understand people who prefer to keep their work closed.

      I see it this way: there’s the fully open domain (GPL) and the closed domain (proprietary sw). The open domain needs to be protected well, which is what GPL provides. Projects working with BSD/MIT/Apache just allow to work for both domains. That’s all. It’s part of the software ecology now, providing positive dynamics for the software industry to move forward.

  32. so … do we need to pay to use blender for cormersial ?

  33. I guess this makes reusing code difficult.
    Why don’t you choose Apache2/GPL2+ dual license?

    • For others that want to reuse Cycles code, our code should be compatible with more projects now. If another project is licensed under “GPL 2 only” they wouldn’t be able to use Cycles code, but I think the vast majority of projects is “GPL 2 or later” or GPL 3.

      If we want to reuse code from other sources, dual licensing doesn’t really help I think? For both single and dual licenses we wouldn’t add GPL code to the project as a matter of policy, because then the project as a whole would no longer be available under a permissive license. Adding Apache/BSD/MIT code is ok either way.

      Historically dual Apache/GPL or MPL/GPL licenses have been used to get around license incompatibilities, but with newer versions of the licenses these are resolved.

  34. cool!
    welldone guys :D

  35. Good move! :)

  36. What we release will always stay open source, I don’t agree with the idea that Cycles could be “closed” or “taken away” because of this license change.

    Yes, another company could use the code in commercial software, but that will not slow down Blender development. I think that in the end this change will help get more code contributions and improve Cycles, even if it’s not required by the license.

  37. I think is not a goood change. GPL protect the code. I hope cycles continue open and free because some company can take the code and make a better version of cycles, close and privative :(

    • GPL protection for Blender is essential. But we already use plenty of permissive modules in Blender too. Most of these wouldn’t have been so good if released under GPL.

      Generalizing – permissive licensing works good for libraries, strict licensing works good for end-user software.

  38. @NICO: in short: Blender remains free to use, for paid work, private use, etc. No change there. The license change is important for software developers.

    The Apache license allows others to incorporate Cycles in commercial software, or keep adaptations in-house for production studios. The idea is that this will lead to wider use of Cycles, with more development as a result.

    Blender itself remains GPL licensed: someone giving away (or selling) a changed version must share the changes for re-use by everyone. This keeps Blender free as the licence ensures that improvements can always be incorporated into the ‘official’ Blender.

    So yes, it is good news.

  39. Excellent move.

  40. This is indeed GOOD NEWS! A big step forward!

  41. Hey Brecht, this is off topic but, do you plan bring sss to gpu?

  42. I do not understand the licensing issues, this is good news or not, I use a blender as a hobby so do not understand the licensing issues, so I thought this might be a good thing when I see a comment that will love this new license.

    but I want to really be sure, this was the good news right?

    • New license make it possible to close the code and never give back anything in return.

      Positive: Some companies may contribute and give some chunks of code as well as integrate it in other programs and making Cycles a sort of standart.

      Negative: Code will be taken away and you will see it in usage of different 3d packages or standalone renderers upgraded, better, faster, with more features and with solid price tag on it. Blender will have the inferior version.

      Not so good if you ask me. I don’t understand why people are so happy about it unless they work at those companies that will take the code.
      Will Cycles disappear? No, but you’ll have Cycles when happy 3dsMax/Maya/Cinema4D/you_name_it user will have Cycles+ that you can’t use. Sad.

      • But if the code wasn’t Apache-licensed, those companies wouldn’t have made a “better version” of Cycles in the first place… We’d have the “inferior version” by default regardless of what happened with the license.

        • Exactly. We would still have the same good old development and wouldn’t bite elbows if someone will have more feature rich renderer that we can’t use. Why is there a need to help other companies to make money that won’t do anything good for Blender?

          Its a gamble, i understand. The idea might work and we’ll have much better development forces but thats too naive. Do you remember when Blender being GPL program was selling by some people? Now, they will have the real rights to do whatever they want with Cycles.

          • I can only imagine Apache being a Net-positive. The only difference here is that without it people wouldn’t know about what they’re missing – because the commercial Cycles+ versions wouldn’t exist.

            I suppose whether or not you like that is a matter of preference. I don’t particularly mind the prospect of spending money for something better should it become available. The alternative isn’t a good prospect for me because it eliminates choice.

            And don’t worry about Autodesk or Disney, they probably have something better already.

          • Its easier to merge company made features back in the core then merge new features made by the community in the companies hidden code.

            So having your own company branch means cutting yourself of from all the new open features. I can’t see why the programmers in a company would want that.

            On the other hand, companies like Disney ( Pixar is disney owned ) don’t like sharing, only taking. But a branch is a copy, not a theft. So nothing is lost for the giver, and karma travels without ownership.

      • Most of the successful libraries are under similar permissive licenses, and they didn’t disappear or get endangered either. In contrary, you can find many BSD/MIT/Apache projects out there with active contributions from commercial” users.

        Abuse you would find first in circles of abusers and irrelevant projects. If a more serious company like Autdoesk/Maxon/Foundry would use Cycles, they’d for sure would consider to join our efforts. It’s in their interest.

        Only when another party can whip up more energy and time and competence to take Cycles further entirely independently, contribution back might not happen. But in that case they probably won’t use it in a way that’s interesting for us to share either.

        The most important thing is that we feel confident and strong enough to now handle this. It most likely will go all fine. If not, then we have another experience to learn from :) And then there’s nothing lost really.

        • That is wishful thinking. I see no reason why Autodesk or Foundry couldn’t just take it and improve on their side only. Or some young team making some closed features and selling them. I can see Sony, Pixar and Dreamworks helping to support their technology on our side but not gathering to develop “one renderer to rule them all”. Sony is playing with Arnold(their version), Pixar has Renderman and Disney, i don’t know about Disney still they probably use their own technology or rewriting existent like Sony does.
          I like the idea where everyone are working for the overall good but that idea proved uneffective in big world if competition is already in motion many years. Small companies will try to make quick $ and try to sell it, like they tried with Blender.
          Linux – existed long ago, went popular everywhere but desktop period. But there was alittle to no competition in those areas and companies were making money on hardware so switching to free and crowd developing product was nice idea.
          Bullet – nice open physics engine. Everyone is using it including Autodesk etc but noone from their side provides patches or fixing bugs. Same can be and likely will be with Cycles with the exception that rendering engine can be used in more ways than just make support in some program.

          Unless some economical crisis(or financial for some company) happens big companies won’t work on the same project. I’d like to be proved wrong obviously but history is not so optimistic.

        • I perfectly agree with the Apache License for Cycles. We basically have the choice between having other companies using it (and potentially not contribute anything back) OR NOT USING IT AT ALL. A GPL-licensed library is disastrous for companies whose business model is selling licenses for software (they would, among other things, need to allow redistribution of their software by their users – i.e. basically allow in their license what they call “piracy”). And LGPL is not a viable option, it’s an extremely ambiguous license (and there is nothing worse than uncertainty when it comes to corporate decisions).

  43. Awesome news! I have been for a while now of the opinion that whilst the final releases of blender can be GPL for the protectionist reasons individual modules/libraries could be(where reasonable) under more permissible licenses.

    • while at it, i’d still like to claim that it would also be nice to have a annual ‘LTS(Long Term Support)’ releases of blender that would be base lines for which full documentation should exist and that some actual entity could the offer commercial support for. The current release cycles could still work the same as they do now, simply as the ‘cutting edge’ releases, basically it’s semantics really, but it kinda affects alot the public minds…

      • I agree. The frequency of update pushes creates an illusion of instability in the program that can disrupt the perception of usability by many people who are use to less frequent release cycles. This is of course primarily referring to Blender, not the Cycles rendering engine (at least in what I have typed).

  44. Cycles is a pathtracing render engine. I’m not sure if it’s just simple oversight or ignorance.

    However, it’s pretty exciting news that Cycles could become the next big thing. VRay and Keyshot are going to be some mad competition though.

    • All path-tracers are ray-tracers, but not all ray-tracers are path-tracers. Cycles also has a direct-light and AO mode, neither of which are path-tracing.

      Maybe you should consider who wrote this article (it is the core developer of Cycles) before assuming ignorance or oversight.

      • strictly speaking the direct-light mode you speak of is actually just a preset for the path tracer that sets the diffuse reflections to ‘0’ to emulate a traditional raytracer within the pathtracing engine. It’s not really a separate rendering mode. Fundamentally, Cycles is a path tracing renderer, though it does support some features that allow it to be treated like a conventional raytracer, such as, as you said, turning off diffuse bounces and using AO to fake diffuse GI instead. Ultimimately though, you’re sort of right, path tracers are a specific TYPE of raytracer, so calling it a raytracer is true if vague.

    • Half knowledge is dangerous. But complete oversight of your own ignorance is catastrophic.

    • They actually already do. Octane Render. That’s the only other GPU renderer that works as fast as cycles. I’d love to see it in Cinema 4D or something else.

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