Creative Clouds – Is software piracy all bad?

Is the theft of software all bad, or are there advantages?

Just days after launching Photoshop as a Creative Cloud edition, Adobe has run into problems as its photo retouching software is hacked according to Fstoppers. For those not familiar with the Creative Cloud concept, think of it as a monthly rental scheme, where instead of buying the licence for that version in one lump sum, you subscribe to a monthly licence for the latest version and have online storage thrown in. This has a number of benefits and a number of drawbacks. The main benefit is that there is no big financial outlay at the start, for a version of software that has built in obsolescence. The second positive I see is that you’ll always have the most up-to date version. That’s more or less where I can see the good bits ending. The negatives, well you’re always paying for software, month in month out whether you use it or not. So you can’t just subscribe to a single piece of software on the months you want it, which would have been great for occasion users who might not need say Illustrator on a daily basis. If you don’t intend to update your software every three years you’ll pay more for it in the long run. Sure new tools come out with each new version, but how many of those tools will someone realistically use? For some people it will work, for others it won’t. I bought my version of Photoshop before the Creative Cloud became available. Would I have gone down the cloud route? Probably because starting a company it is good to save money where possible, without cutting corners.

The price for the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop alone is currently £17.58 a month for a minimum 12 months subscription, the full version on the Apple Store is £665. Software licencing is nothing new and has been going on for ages, one never actually owns the software, one just has a licence to use it. Much like photographs, clients never actually own the images, just the rights to use them (unless the client would like to buy copyright of the images which is possible, but rarely done). Just as for photography and video, copyright infringement is using images without obtaining the correct rights, copyright infringement of software piracy. So no good should ever come from it. The Creative Cloud concept was supposed to help eradicate software piracy, cheaper to buy more accessible etc. but it looks as if it has failed spectacularly. How long it took software pirates to hack the “traditional” versions is anyone’s guess, but as anything; music, software, photographs, cars, food etc. There will always be someone out there who doesn’t want to pay for it

The unease I have about the Creative Cloud model is that once Adobe have increased the user numbers to a point where the standalone version is no longer viable, there really is nothing stopping Adobe ramping up their prices. Every user will be over a barrel. What options will photographers, designers and art editors have? Any competitor to Photoshop would have to do what Photoshop does as well, if not better, and with the resources available at Adobe, is this really going to happen? If it does, Adobe could lower prices, until the sales of their competitor dries up, or simply buy out the competitors, or worryingly both.

Piracy like copyright infringement is wrong both morally and legally. But may be the hacking of Photoshop so quickly, could slow down Adobe’s gallop towards the Creative Cloud. While the dust is settling it give the company and it’s users time for a rethink about the future.


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