Is Sketchup Make 2016 really freeware?

Hi there,

I love using Sketchup to demonstrate how to create and design for 3D Printing.
So I promote the heck out of it. However, a recent issue came up questioning
whether or not SketchUp Make was ‘freeware’ and was rejected as ‘shareware’.

I argued that since it was not being used for commercial use nor mass production,
it should fall into the freeware category. But they would not budge and wanted
me to go to TinkerCAD or 3D Builder. I’m not knocking those systems.
But you can do so much more with SketchUp. I’ve been tutoring SketchUp
to gamers and new modelers for years with their own downloads.
However, the question and come up and it needs to be settled once and for all.

So, point blank question: Can we use SketchUp Make as freeware?
Or is there a set of circumstances that we can use it as such?

Thank you.

Perhaps “they” should define freeware and shareware. Let’s see what the difference is.

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Example of freeware would be Skype and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Well, clearly, Trimble would like people to buy the pro version of SketchUp but since there’s no cost to downloading or using Make, that would make it free. Right?


That’s what I thought. But that Pro Trial is an argument for shareware. As such, is it legal to circumvent the trial and just go straight to using the Make via modified .lic? (found elsewhere on these forums)

(Point blank answer) SketchUp Make is licensed software for Non-Commercial Use ONLY.

It is “plain as day” in section 2.2.1 of the following terms:


That advice was posted by Trimble employees. The trial short-circuiting is often done in educational scenarios.

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Ah, and scrolling down, I see the rest of it regarding educational institutions. So essentially, they were right.
Effectively, it would be $15 per seat per year, so fine. I see where they were going with this. Thank you for pointing this out.

But furthermore, you can’t legally contribute to Google Earth, Thingiverse, or other spaces under Personal Projects based on this:

“Trimble Navigation Limited and/or its affiliates (“Trimble”) gives you a personal, worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to use the executable version of the Software for non-commercial use only. Non-commercial use means: you may not sell, rent, lease or lend the output of the Software or the Services…” unless presumably you have a license save for Google Content.

A contribution to Thingiverse would constitute a lend of output, would it not?


if you consider ‘lend’ in a fiscal terminology, then having files ‘hosted’ on Thingyverse should not convene ‘non-Commercial’ unless you are receiving renumeration in cash or kind…


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Ah, but this is the legal under SketchUp Make portion for ‘Personal Projects’ regarding output.

I’m only being a stickler as I want to make sure what I am telling others is accurate and within the licensing terms.
I’m just fuzzy on what ‘output’ means. If we have to buy Pro licenses, so be it. I’m cool with that.

But this would seem a new user could use Make to create an object and print it for one’s own personal use. But posting to Thingiverse, Youmagine, etc even as a free giveaway, would breach the license as you are lending output that is accessible to others. Best to teach correctly at the start rather than allow it to go long and cause hurt feelings.


It would be a good idea to get a real legal opinion from someone who is trained to give it.


@DaveR Ah, thank you for as far as you have guided me. I really didn’t give it much thought until it got knocked back to me for review. I honestly thought it was non-commercial free use before this.

Well you know how these things can become a can of worms. Good luck with the whole thing. I do agree with you that Sketchup has much more to offer.

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The 3D Warehouse has an option to make models printer-ready, allowing people to share their models as .STL download. Some of those SUppers would like to make money using this program and may indeed be making money by their use of SU, but the files you get from the Warehouse are free. And it is quite apparent that many of those free models are from Make users. And when you upload something to the Warehouse, you aren’t quizzed on whether or not you are a pro-user.

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An article introducing the printable service offered through the Warehouse last year.

The Warehouse TOS seem to be a work in progress, laying the groundwork to be able to sell models through the Warehouse at some date in the future. People with commercial accounts would have a SU Pro. What’s of interest to many people is the General Model License which spells out how to use models we can freely download from the Warehouse - and gives some examples - like it’s okay to add 3rd-party models to your own model if most of the work in your own file is your own, original work. And it’s a no-no to download a model, make a few minor changes and upload it as your own (especially if the modified model ends up being used commercially.)

There’s a passionate community over at the 3D Warehouse. People tend to recognize - not appreciate - plagiarism, especially when it happens to them. Passionate people will rat out those who try to skirt around and violate the TOS. And it’s quite likely that Trimble will increase their Warehouse staff to handle this.

@catamountain That’s excellent, thank you for that. I like the Warehouse and the Pro features.

But I’m trying to get confirmation for compliance for casual and first time users of the SketchUp software that might want to use 3D Hubs, Shapeways, or local services to print off their own personal creations outside of the Warehouse.

Before looking into this, I thought John Q. Public could download SketchUp Make/Pro Trial at home, create a piece and subsequently have it printed or upload to Thingiverse and still be within compliance to the license agreement. I realize now after reading things more closely, that appears to have been inaccurate. So I am looking to make sure that is the case when someone asks for what software would be best to design in, I can give complete and full disclosure.

People just want to create and generally just click through the EULA/TOS/AUS. So rather than have them blindly go forward with SketchUp and make legal mistakes, have them use TinkerCAD and make them aware SketchUp is a paid software package, based on the definition of not sharing the output from the SketchUp Make in the license.

This is where I am stuck with compliance and disclosure. Given that, I couldn’t recommend SketchUp Make as a free design option to new people. I could recommend SketchUp Pro Trial as a free download so long as they only use the Warehouse. Outside of the Warehouse, they would have to use TinkerCAD or 3D Builder for their modeling to stay in compliance.

Does this sound right? I know it’s a lot of legal beans. But I want to keep SketchUp in my tutoring. So I have to run the marathon.

Thank you.

Not use SU outside of the Warehouse environment? Pro use if you want to use the Warehouse? What? THe Warehouse is a service. That’s overreacting, and the TOS and General Modeling License is being greatly misinterpreted.

Funny too that the fella who used to own Makerbot was the keynote speaker at SU Basecamp 4 years ago. And the greater maker movement has been greatly embraced by SU owners.

Software is property. The models created by the software are the intellectual property of the person (or company) that created them. A big chunk of the license agreement deals with the same old plagiarism issues that confront all intellectual property - which includes the right people who make models on other software, writers, artists, songwriters, etc.

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Ah, but then this comes into question:

2.2.1. SketchUp Make

SketchUp Make Software is licensed only for non-commercial use for your internal business purposes. Non-commercial use means that you may not sell, rent, lease or lend the output of the Software. Any other use requires the purchase of a SketchUp Pro license. For example, if you are a for-profit organization of any kind, or an employee of a for-profit organization using the Software in that capacity, you are engaged in commercial activity; therefore, in order to use the Software, you must purchase a SketchUp Pro license. Government agencies are considered to be commercial users and must purchase a SketchUp Pro license.

So if Little Cindy Lou Who downloaded the SketchUp Make software, created a Grinch model from scratch and wanted to upload it to Thingiverse, she would be in breach of the license, right?

Is there a way to tell if Sketchup was used to create a 3d model once it’s no longer a .skp file?

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Yep, right at the top.
For example, if you text edit a .STL, you will see (using SketchUp STL export)

SketchUp STL test-1 ¿$ÒÀDfëEC\«DXœEff´$ÒÀDfëEff´\«DXœEff´$ÒÀDfëEC\«DXœEC$·¿D—¸Eff´#¢¡D◊EC#¢¡D◊Eff´#¢¡D◊EC$·¿D—¸Eff´$·¿D—¸EC#¢¡D◊Eff´˘◊√D—tEC˘◊√D—t