|UPDATE. Mashable: Adobe’s “Piracy-Proof” Software Already Pirated.
Versión en Español
Adobe recently announced that they will not continue the development of their Creative Suite (CS) “perpetual license model” software as we know it, and – instead – pursue a new, cloud-based licensing model, called CC: Creative Cloud.
This model offers various different licenses, from a single application license for $ 19.99/mo to educational licenses for the same amount, and a variety of personal and corporate licenses starting at $29.99/mo (temporarily) for current CS3 or later customers up to $ 69.99/mo for teams (US pricing, values may be higher in other countries).
Although this may sound like an attractive deal to some, most of us are focusing on the License Agreement to find that all the chips fall the way of Adobe and none our way, much as in a casino.
For starters, if you decide to go with this licensing model, you’re stuck for life. Not only will Adobe not grant you access to the application once you’ve decided to end your contract, but they will also deny you access to your content, thus – in effect – appropriate any and all of the proprietary and copyrighted materials you may have created with these applications, if and when located on the 20 Gb. space that Adobe allocates to your account on their cloud servers – as part of their “service”.
Moreover, the company reserves the right to assign the unique URL you created when you signed up (e.g.: your_name dot adobe.com) to another user, meaning that you permanently lose access to your content, even if you change your mind later on.
Some might argue that Adobe is unlikely to use or sell your proprietary materials, since this would be a breach of common sense copyright law.
However, the CC License Agreement not only disallows you to bring such charges, but also establishes the Santa Clara (CA) court for the US and Dublin, Ireland for users outside the US, as the one and only places where you might file them, which means – in short – that any user, be that from India, Chile or Russia will have to travel there to be able to file.
Not even to mention that they might sue you in return for up to $ 1.000 in legal fees for what they call an “ill-filed” complaint.
Moreover, trying to sue a lawyer clad dinosaur like Adobe for copyright infringement or otherwise by any individual or cash strapped small company, is like David against Goliath, except that David is extremely unlikely to win, this time around.
After all, David signed the License Agreement, which has been concocted by bloody Adobe lawyers who would easily outsmart the Devil himself.
DPreview has by now racked up more than 2.500 comments on an article related to this change of policy – a new site record, according to the editors – however, it seems unlikely that Adobe will change its policy because of it. After all: these are all just small fry customers nagging; free lancers, small businesses and “amateurs”.
There are those who justify the move by arguing that we are making money with our software, however, if you make money with your car, does Audi charge you over and over again? Of course, they don’t!, and neither should Adobe.
As I demonstrated in a May 2009 article, Adobe and Microsoft are obviously colluded in mutually muscling their customers into upgrading, even if they don’t want to.
It seems also clear why the US Senate – generally sensitive to these matters – has not acted (yet). These two companies are genuine money machines and big tax contributors.
Moreover, users who believe that their perpetual licenses cannot be revoked or crippled better think again:
3 Years ago my C drive died on me. I replaced the drive and – as a consequence – was forced to reinstall the OS and all applications.
As I was running the reinstall of CS1 on this system, the activation process balked: “You cannot activate this software, because it is already installed on 2 other systems”, which was not true, of course, because I was reinstalling the same software on exactly the same system just with another C-drive.
I called Adobe and they gracefully granted me a license to reinstall.
Last year, the motherboard on my main system died on me. Even if I am now running mirrored RAID, so to be able to replace corrupt drives without a hiccup, having to replace the MB meant not only that I could not replace a possibly corrupted drive with a clone of the not corrupted one, but that both drives (even if intact) were now useless because the new motherboard could not decrypt them.
When I reinstalled CS3 on the very same system, with the same drives and a different MB the massage popped up once again: “You cannot activate this software, because it is already installed on 2 other systems”.
I had to make yet another long distance call to Adobe, and finally a reinstall was granted.
The billion dollar question is, of course, what makes you think that they will be as gracious now they have installed their new FU all business model?
While the Adobe management spokesmen have insisted over and again that shelling out as much as $ 600 (individual license) a year for software that has improved surprisingly little since CS1 is healthy business practice, most of us with a decade (or two) of experience with Adobe suspect that the sheer absence of innovation and naked greed, combined with idiot, client ignoring, Harvard-tailored MBA’s are running yet another Computer Age icon into the ground.
But who knows? Maybe a big bunch of unsuspecting Gen-Y will willingly sign up for a lopsided License Agreement (which they have not read) to make up for the loss of many “thinking”, loyal, long-time customers.
Adobe claims to have added 500.000 users to their cash cow herd so far. The big question is – of course – what kind of users we are talking about, whether they are new or existing, what they are spending on average and, most of all: how long the company will be able to hang on to them.
As a British design studio owner and early CC adopter put it: “…everyone I spoke to at Adobe [Ed.: customer support] so far has been very polite and rather delightful. F***ing incompetent, but delightful.”
Photoshop version history
To understand why Adobe is moving to this new licensing model, a review of the Photoshop version history on Wikipedia is revealing.
Layers were introduced as early as PS v.3, adjustment layers in v.4; the program supports Windows and 16 bit channels since v.2.5 (1992) while CMYK ever since the v.2 Mac-only version.
PS v.5 introduces editable type, v.6 vector shapes and v.7 the healing brush plus Adobe Camera Raw v.1 (ACR), amongst various other features.
With CS1 we get 16-bit tools, filters and layer editing, a shadow/highlight tool, ACR 2 and support for files over 2 Gb.
The CS1 Creative Suite Premium bundle also includes stuff like Image Ready and GoLive, programs that have been long replaced by the far superior equivalents that Adobe got at the Macromedia garage sale, such as Fireworks and Dreamweaver.
After that, innovation takes a nosedive. CS3 adds very little substance over CS2 over CS1: some feature additions to ACR, auto align and blend layers, image stitch (for panos) and a – in my humble opinion – useless implementation of HDR, while PS CS3 Extended “features” an extremely awkward implementation of 3D.
After CS3 the negative impact on creativity by the lack of competition becomes more and more obvious. Apart of 64-bit support, the CS4 trial had absolutely nothing new to seduce me to shell out for the upgrade, and although I like the automatic lens correction introduced in ACR 6 and CS5, I can perfectly live without it.
When we take a look at some of the other creative suite programs, the lack of creativity becomes even more obvious: the few innovations in Illustrator CS4 – for example – are a copy/paste of features from good, old Macromedia Freehand, while a few other FH “goodies” are still absent today. Take a look at the Illustrator history here…
Although the journalists in the specialized press are (of course) trying to convince us that CC is a reasonable deal, even “cheaper” than buying perpetual license or “boxed” versions, they ignore one simple fact: Adobe does not give us one single reason to upgrade.
Unless you believe that the camera shake filter that they are pimping as the best thing since sliced bread is a must-have tool, there are no other significant new features in Photoshop CC; not even tethered shooting, which ought to have been included at least half a decade ago.
I would happily upgrade for the latter, but don’t have any use for an anti shake filter; I learned a while ago that for sharp images you need to either hold the camera still or use a tripod.
Since CS1 Adobe has not added one single killer feature to its mayor products, while I consider innovation to be virtually absent as of CS3.
Thus, this new business model is not the result of piracy – as Adobe claims – but rather of the total lack of creativity and innovation in a once outstanding company, which is now failing to give its customers compelling reasons to keep buying its products.
As Steve Jobs put it in 2010: “They are lazy. They have all this potential to do interesting things, but they just refuse to do it.”
The majority of organizations go bankrupt once they stop giving their customers added value, however, Adobe believes they can escape that fate by bullying theirs into a “perpetual pay” model.
I think not.
Sign the petition!
If you disagree with Adobe’s “Winner takes all” Creative Cloud strategy, you might want to sign this petition on change.org. I doubt if it will make any difference, but at least we’ll have given it a try.
For a review of the Adobe License Agreement legalese, check this.
You might also want to read:
Adobe surveys potential CC customers. Mostly address the right issues, except the single most essential
I’m not the only one who believes Adobe is lazy
Adobe now officially worse than MS. Sell by NOT doing, rather than doing
DigitalArts. Opinion: How Adobe Creative Cloud left me amused, perplexed and infuriated
This is what’s happened at Adobe. The Thinkers are gone and the Producers have taken over: There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World – Are You in the Right One?
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