Adobe Activation Matt 07 Apr 2005

45 comments Latest by ERE

Adobe Activation comes to the entire Creative Suite family.

“Adobe Activation is just one component of our overall antipiracy strategy,” Drew McManus, Adobe’s director of worldwide anti-piracy told Macsimum News. “It’s a pretty specific tactic used to combat ‘casual copying,’ which is when one person buys a copy and gives it to all this friends. Or when a business owner buys a copy and installs it on all his systems, regardless of the license. It’s one of the most persuasive forms of piracy and one of the easiest to prevent.”

45 comments so far (Jump to latest)

kingbenny 07 Apr 05

Itís one of the most persuasive forms of piracy…

huh? Maybe be meant pervasive…

I say more power to them and would agree that the ‘casual’ piracy gets pretty rampant.

Adam Michela 07 Apr 05

Bah. It better not be a 1-machine license. That would be incredibly lame.

I like how Macromedia does it. They let you have 3 machines and you can release your license from a machine to pass to another one.

David Salahi 07 Apr 05

It annoys me that I can’t have a copy on both my home and work PCs. Not to mention my laptop (oops, I guess I just mentioned it).

Adobe’s policy is unnecesarily restrictive.


Dan Boland 07 Apr 05

I don’t think Adobe’s piracy problems would be as bad as they are if Creative Suite were reasonably priced. Granted, you’re getting a lot of good software, but a grand is still a lot of money to a lot of people (and a lot of businesses). Now that they are instituting this new line of defense, do you think they’ll drop the price of their software? I highly doubt it.

Luke 07 Apr 05

It’s a chicken-and-egg thing, but am I the only one that thinks Photoshop wouldn’t be pirated so mercilessly if it weren’t so overpriced?

I can understand complicated software that had a limited audience being expensive. Photoshop, though is seemingly used by millions. If Adobe halved the price, I’d bet they’d sell twice as many copies, as the financial-burden-to-guilt ratio became lower.

People pirate because they are poor, not because they’re evil.

AJ 07 Apr 05

As far as having a copy on two PCs: unless Adobe has changed the license, you are allowed to have an additional copy on a machine that is only accessible to the license owner, as well as the copy on the primary machine. Whether or not they took this into account with their product activation is a different story.

Dave 07 Apr 05

Oh please. I’d love to count the number of G5s with pirated software then.

It’s a cost of business. If you want to do business with a particual piece of software then you need to realize that is overhead.

If you’re talking about casual use for your personal photos and such, then move down to their Limited Edition.

David Ely 07 Apr 05

Shouldn’t there be a way to identity that a particular computer is mine, so that all software I own could work on all machines I use? So when I create my account on my work computer, and another on my home computer, and another on my laptop, I could have a way to say “all of these belong to me.” And then when I install software, it would know that it’s okay to run on all accounts belonging to me, but not on other accounts on that machine?

Also, couldn’t you say that making Photoshop easy to pirate for years has meant that everyone has an illegal copy and thus knows how to use it, and thus making it the standard photo editing app? If everyone had to buy a copy for hundreds of dollars per license, no college students would ever buy a copy, and would never learn to use it.

Randy 07 Apr 05

Itís a cost of business. If you want to do business with a particual piece of software then you need to realize that is overhead.

Dave is absolutely right. Designers are lucky. The capital cost associated with setting up a design business is miniscule. Go try and set up a business with a store front and inventory and cash registers. Or a business where you need to build things with raw materials. That’s expensive. A piece of software that lets you do what Photoshop does for $1000 is *NOTHING*.

David Salahi 07 Apr 05

Adobe only allows one copy; from their EULA (http://www.adobe.com/products/eulas/main.html):

‘“Permitted Number” means one (1) unless otherwise indicated under a valid license (e.g., volume license) granted by Adobe.’

I will at least give them credit for posting their EULAs on their web site. Most companies don’t allow you to see it until you open the box.

David Salahi

Charbel 07 Apr 05

Although I don’t condone piracy of software, one of the reasons that a particular software package becomes popular is because of its users, and their ability to obtain that software package easily, whether legal or not.

I would imagine that the money lost to piracy of Adobe software is regained by the buzz that the community generates about the software, which I bet is generated by as much illegal users as it is by legal ones…Meaning that illegal users do contribute to Adobe indirectly.

Adobe needs to rework their license to be more forgiving to the user…

hp 07 Apr 05

Adobe’s EULA allows one to install one copy of a single license on their primary machine and one other machine, either a laptop or another desktop/tower machine in the same location for as long as the software is not run at the same time on both machines.

This has always been the case and I think it is rather fair.

As for the price of the software, as with many other things whether a software is expensive or not is rather subjective. For someone $1,000 is too much money while others do not think of that as an issie. I guess it all comes down to what one does with the software and what it’s value is for whatever one uses it for.

ed fladung 07 Apr 05

I’ve read somewhere, can’t find the link, that Adobe will allow two computers for each personal license. and Charbel is right. The money that Adobe loses on “casual” (person-to-person) piracy is nothing next to the exposure and increase in users they get. the money they lose from this kind of piracy is basically paying for the evangelism of their products. Where Adobe really saves money with the new activation scheme is in places like Asia where you can get Adobe’s software on DVD off the street just as easily as you can get a Britney Spears CD. (unfortunately, in places where it will really matter, people will be smart enough to reverse engineer the product and sell it without the activation code).

Mike Piontek 07 Apr 05

David Salahi: Keep reading.

2.4 Portable or Home. The primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.

So, you can install it on a desktop and a laptop. Or you can install it on a work computer and a home computer. I think that’s pretty reasonable.

I don’t like activation but I can live with it as long as there’s a license agreement like this, and it doesn’t cause any frustration. Macromedia’s activation has a bug that forces you to download a specific, somewhat difficult to find patch if you do an Archive and Install of OS X… and that sort of thing just sucks.

David Salahi 07 Apr 05

Looking more closely at Adobe’s EULA (http://www.adobe.com/products/eulas/main.html), I see that it does allow two copies:

“2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use. The primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.”

When I saw the activation come up after installing Photoshop CS I just assumed that it was limited to a single machine. Apparently, that was wrong. Next, I guess I’ll try actually installing Photoshop CS on my 2nd computer and see what happens.

David Salahi

Bryan C 07 Apr 05

The fact that we’re still kind of confused about the licensing and usage terms is a fairly serious site usability issue. They need to spell this stuff out in plain English and prominently display with the other information about the new CS products.

AFAIK Adobe still allows two machines; if that’s still the case then their policy isn’t too bad, compared to some other companies. But that’s faint praise, since I’ve always thought that software should be licensed to the user and not to the machine/registry configuration the user happens to be using today.

I also hope they’ve made their activation scheme a little less twitchy. I’ve had to reactivate my work copy twice after unscheduled shutdowns (due to a faulty UPS). That requires a phone call, waiting on hold, etc. Not a fun thing to have happen when you’re on a deadline or in the middle of a project.

nathan 07 Apr 05

Activation is just dumb.

First of all, Windows and Office are easily the most pirated software ever, and Microsoft is easily the most successful software company ever. What you lose in short term sales profits you make up for in ubiquity. Plus, now you have to administer a nightmare of new activation software and customer service complaints, and your DRM will be broken soon anyway.

If Adobe was able to magically attach unbreakable DRM to their software three things would happen:
1) People would stick with earlier, unencumbered versions of Photoshop…
2) Which would give open source folks plenty of time and incentive to come up with a viable free alternative.
3) New designers will learn on “OpenShop” instead of Photoshop, and Adobe loses marketshare.

All paying Adobe customers who learned their skills on pirate software raise your hands…

Jeff Hartman 07 Apr 05

People pirate because they are poor, not because theyíre evil.

That’s not true either. They pirate because they can and haven’t had any consequences. You get rich and poor pirating alike.

I would agree that students and those in lower-paying jobs may be a higher percentage of those pirating.


I like how Macromedia does it. They let you have 3 machines and you can release your license from a machine to pass to another one.

I hope they changed the way they used to do it. I bought a copy of Flash 2004 for a client and installed it on a PC. The user switched to a Mac about 3 months later but it couldn’t be installed, even though it was Mac/PC install media (the web-based registration/license deal on the Macromedia web site wouldn’t allow it). I called Macromedia and was told that since it was installed on the PC first - even though the license was released from the machine, it was now a PC license and could not be installed on the Mac.

Darren James Harkness 07 Apr 05

New designers will still learn on Photoshop; when an entire industry is based around Adobe software, it’s not necesarily a good idea to go against that.

Sure, open source apps like The Gimp might be a cheap way to create web graphics, but none of the open source or inexpensive graphic manip apps I’ve used have come anywhere even close to Photoshop when it comes to graphics that matter. Not to mention there really isn’t a viable open source alternative to layout programs like PageMaker/InDesign/Quark.

Adam Michela 07 Apr 05

I think were missing a key point here…

This isn’t going to prevent real piracy. You will still be able to download Photoshop from any number of newsgroups or irc chatrooms. You will still be able to EASILY get a crack/patch.

The only software package that I know that has been relatively successful at preventing real piracy is Windows XP.

All this does is make it more difficult for PAYING CUSTOMERS to casually “”pirate”” Photoshop by putting it on a second or third machine.

Granted this casual piracy CAN hurt in small offices where a business owner puts one copy on a couple dozen workstations, but I don’t think that risk outweighs the harm here.

If I can’t put Photoshop on AT LEAST a Desktop AND a Laptop I will not buy it. I just don’t understand why the burden of proof should be placed on my shoulders, as a paying customer, while any kid with a newsreader or a chat program can STILL go grab the same package for nothing but 5 minutes of time.

If this is the case I guess I’ll be sticking to Freehand/Fireworks from now on.

Jeff: My copy of Studio MX 2004 is installed on two PC’s and a Mac… no trouble. Several times I’ve even released the license from a workstation to install it on a new/replacement computer.

Adam Michela 07 Apr 05

Ok, I’m confused.

That article says this is already in place on CS/Windows?

… I’m thinking it doesn’t work properly? Call it a hunch.

Clark 07 Apr 05

The cost of Adobe software is incredibly high for those design shops outside of the United States, Canada, and Europe. With billings far lower then my American counterparts it’s extremely difficult to afford an Adobe license for every machine. Lower the price and you will less piracy in Asia.

ChrisR 07 Apr 05

Lower the price and you will less piracy in Asia.

I call Bullshit. I’ve lived in Asia. Piracy is part of their culture. You have no idea how deep it is. They won’t even buy $10 DVDs cause they can buy $1 DVDs on the street.

Steven Andrew Miller 08 Apr 05

I donít think Mercedes-Benzís theft problems would be as bad as they are if the S-Class was reasonably priced. Granted, youíre getting a really good car, but a sixty-five grand is still a lot of money to a lot of people (and a lot of businesses). Now that they are instituting this new line of defense, do you think theyíll drop the price of their cars? I highly doubt it.

kjd 08 Apr 05

I think the point being missed is that activation is easily subverted. Every activation scheme - for Windows, Office, Adobe CS for Windows - has had an easily accessible “crack” within a week or so of its release available by just using Google.

The end result is it doesn’t cut piracy, particularly in Asia, because they will pre-crack the software before it is even pressed to CD.

The only thing Adobe derives in the grand scheme is preventing casual copying between less computer literate people who might want one copy at home and one at work. And it adds a level of frustration to legitimate users who have to jump through activation hoops.

Luke 08 Apr 05

This argument comparing physical products to software is bogus. Sure, there are some fixed costs in developing software but it’s not like there are actual nuts and bolts inside that have material costs. The market model for intellectual property versus physical objects defies comparison.

What we’re paying for when we buy Adobe software are their massive, massive labour costs for development and support. I’m sure they’ve done the math, and the price of Photoshop is actually related, somehow, to the cost of producing it, but in terms of “per unit cost”, the cost of a plastic CD, a manual and a box is insignificant. When we buy Photoshop, we’re paying for those legions of support people, and we’re subsidizing development of the next version (for which Adobe will charge an upgrade, continuing the cycle).

My point, way back when, was that I thought it would be perfectly feasible to lower the price of Photoshop and sell more copies. I was attacked for ignoring “the cost of business”, but I’m not really. That cost is just being passed on to the customer. It’s a lot easier to absorb that cost if you are a large advertising firm with large clients. If you are an independent designer with small clients, charging more can and will make it more difficult to attract those clients. So either Adobe is encouraging the cost of design work to be higher, or they don’t mind that small-timers may pirate it because it feeds into the popularity of the software and has helped make it the success it is today.

Why is it so controversial to argue that a lower cost for an item would reduce piracy? Have none of you shopped for music on the iTunes store? Would you be as likely to if it cost twice as much? Three times? Or would you maybe think more about finding, ahem, other ways?

If Photoshop had been very difficult to pirate for a long time, there would, as someone else pointed it, be more competition for it. If, alternatively, it had been cheaper, just as many people would be using it, but probably a lot more of them would have paid for it. In the former case, I don’t think Adobe actually “wins”, because they’d be fighting a competitor, sort of like Microsoft used to do with Word versus WordPerfect et al. In the latter case, Adobe would still be doing very well, thank you very much, so the question is… why keep prices so high? Are they trying to keep the riff-raff out?

Dan Boland 08 Apr 05

I donít think Mercedes-Benzís theft problems would be as bad as they are if the S-Class was reasonably priced. Granted, youíre getting a really good car, but a sixty-five grand is still a lot of money to a lot of people (and a lot of businesses). Now that they are instituting this new line of defense, do you think theyíll drop the price of their cars? I highly doubt it.

Wow, you’re really clever.

Steven Andrew Miller 08 Apr 05

Wow, youíre really clever.

No, I’m not really all that clever. It is just a really poor argument.

Arne Gleason 08 Apr 05

Iím guessing the best strategy is to loudly, publicly, and visibility (as in during installation) sing the anti-piracy song, but spend as little money as possible on anti-piracy instruments. No matter how much they spend, they wonít curb cracks that show up days after release (and Iíve always thought it strange that crackers spend the time and effort, and then give it all away). As far as Adobe products go, Iím guessing there are 50 cracked installs for every real license, but 5 relatively unused licenses for every license that actually gets used (for something that that couldnít be done more easily in some peanut paint freeware). Adobe must have some clue that Ďactivationí will have some positive effect for them though.

Darrel 08 Apr 05

I like how Macromedia does it. They let you have 3 machines and you can release your license from a machine to pass to another one.

AFIAK, they only let you have it on two machines…which is fine, but they REFUSE to acknowlege the fact that the developer may actually use two different OSes. Since I switch between Mac and PC constantly, I really can’t justify double licenses for everything.

Anyone know of Adobe allows for having the 2-install license on different OSes?

Photoshop is what $600? Two licenses is $1200? I just don’t do enough freelance work in a year to justify that. Which is fine. Maybe I’m not their target audience. More power to the open source folks, I guess. ;o)

Dan Boland 08 Apr 05

Steven Andrew Miller: It’s not as poor as your counterpoint. The differences between automobiles and desktop publishing software are so vast that I could write about it all day. But I will say that bringing up automobiles did bring something to light for me - I think the fact that people are so willing to pirate software (and media) is because it generally speaking isn’t tangible, and therefore they’re absolved of the guilt involved with traditional theft. Hey, you can tally me up in that category.

Arne Gleason: I think the reason crackers give it away is because of their motivation for doing so in the first place, whether it’s “I want to cause mayhem” or “I believe software belongs to the people.” The time and effort then become moot.

Darrel 08 Apr 05

What really bugs me is that software companies still don’t license the software to people…they license it to boxes sitting on your desk. They need to start looking at licensing to actual people. Let folks intall the software on as many machines as they want, but let them only use it if they have a license…maybe that’s done via smart-cards, blue-tooth dongles, rfid…I dunno. Maybe I’m dreaming, but that would be so much easier.

Rob Mientjes 08 Apr 05

Darrel, that thought is idealistic, but imagine the paperwork. You’d soon have specialised licenses. “I want it all on my Windows desktop, and also Photoshop and Illustrator on my PowerBook.” You’re indeed dreaming, but at least there’s some noble thinking going on ;)

beto 08 Apr 05

Dan Boland - Granted, youíre getting a lot of good software, but a grand is still a lot of money to a lot of people (and a lot of businesses).

Sure it is. As tempting it is to say that $1000 is a drop in the bucket for established companies and even mom-and-pop shops using CS, it really isn’t. Let alone in places like Latin America, where design / web work has to be done for peanuts in comparison to the typical American fees - yet Adobe refuses to “tropicalize” the prices of their wares so they can be proportionally affordable, specially to mom-and-pop design professionals.

I know many colleagues in the business that wouldn’t think twice about going legal if Adobe CS’s price were at least half from what it is - but since we get forced to pay the same price as American customers (plus a hefty sum in outrageous import taxes if you go with CDs) while earning much less, many design pros in the area get caught between a rock and a hard place. And this product activation thing does really nothing but add insult to injury.

Randy 08 Apr 05

Dan Boland - Granted, youíre getting a lot of good software, but a grand is still a lot of money to a lot of people (and a lot of businesses).

Then don’t buy it. Do you feel like you are entitled to it? You aren’t. It’s a product and if you can’t afford it then don’t buy it. And most certainly don’t steal it.

Asian designer 09 Apr 05

First of all…

Iíve lived in Asia. Piracy is part of their culture.

ChrisR, Fuck you, you white trash redneck (don’t you love sweeping generalisations?)

Next, as plenty of people have pointed out, Adobe and Microsoft have become so dominant because of piracy. Adobe may cry hoarse about what a large percentage of its user base are using pirated versions, but that’s what got them into the dominant market position they’re in. If the 5% of the current user base that bought it legally were the only ones who used it, Adobe would be nowhere.

In the Asian country I live in, $1000 is more than three months pay. How the heck am I supposed to afford that much? And yet, the industry has standardised on it, so I have to work with it. Adobe knows this, but will do fuck all about it.

Lastly, I present to you a cheaper alternative, which is what I prefer to use: Jasc PaintShop Pro.

As anyone with common sense knows, the “cracked” versions of the activated software will be out within days of the official release. So all Adobe does is piss off legitimate, legal users of its software. Ha! Great business strategy.

ChrisR 09 Apr 05

ChrisR, Fuck you, you white trash redneck (donít you love sweeping generalisations?)

I’m Korean.

In the Asian country I live in, $1000 is more than three months pay. How the heck am I supposed to afford that much? And yet, the industry has standardised on it, so I have to work with it. Adobe knows this, but will do fuck all about it.

Again, then don’t buy it. Why do you feel like you are entitled to their product at a price *you* can afford? And how much does a Powerbook cost over there? Should Apple slash their price by 75% so you can afford it too? Should everyone slash slash slash so you can be happy? Look, if you can’t afford something then you can’t have it. You have no *right* to their products.

Gaston 09 Apr 05

A piece of software that lets you do what Photoshop does for $1000 is *NOTHING*

Whoah!!! lol $1000 is nothing? Well maybe in the US for some professionals it’s nothing, but what about people in other countries? In Costa Rica the price of 1 USD is of 470 of our currency. Most families in the country live with about $400. With those $400 they pay everything, their loans, food, gas, phone bills, save some money, etc. And designers here are not making millions. Freelance designers are simply struggling like the rest of the people. Most people I know would take about a million years in saving $1000 just so that they could buy Photoshop at that price.

So what I’ve always thought is that companies like adobe should sell stuff at different prices depending on the regions and their economy. It’s no wonder places like India, Malasia, some countires in South and Central America have so much piracy going on… a thousand bucks are simply a lot of money, a lot! I’m sure accessible prices are the solution to piracy. At least the numbers would drop.

beto 09 Apr 05

I’m Costa Rican too, and can attest at every bit of what Gaston says. Judging by statistics and economy levels, we as a country are still way better off than the rest of our neighbor countries, yet not doing as “great” as to being able to afford to legitimize every piece of software at the prices companies like Adobe demand. At this rate, only the few local ad agencies featuring Fortune 500 clients can afford to go legit.

And the rest of the isthmus? Let’s just say it’s potential market share for Adobe simply lost to rampant piracy. I have always thought they as a company in these places have much less to lose by lowering prices than by jacking them up to first-world standards.

*high-fives Gaston*

Joan 10 Apr 05

$1,000.00 is a lot of money, regardless of how much money other businesses require to open their doors. I’ve paid for my legitimate copy, and it’s maddening to have to developers repay my choice with roadblocks thrown in front of me everytime I need to switch machines, or locations, or any other situation I have dropped in my lap as a freelancer, preventing me from actually USING the product. Oh, and I get to be treated like a thief for having “issues outside the norm”.

And to follow the discussion here seems to follow suit, in that those of us complaining are categorized as whiney losers who feel “entitled” to things we don’t want to pay for. I’ve bought my software. I’ve paid for Photoshop upgrades since v. 4, on top of the rest of the apps in the suite. This is not small change. All I want is to be able to use the product I’ve paid for, but when companies start acting as border patrol with search & seizure access, and their “acceptable” user profiles are narrow enough to be able to say things like “Activation takes only seconds and is perfectly painless”, well, it’s going to be very bad for us smaller setups who are constantly switching off our computers according to changing situations, locations and uses. I’ve been through this hell with Macromedia over the MX 2004 Studio, and I’ve told Macromedia that despite having used (read: bought, paid for & consistently upgraded) the individual apps since v.1 in most cases, I would NOT upgrade any further as long as the activation requirement was part of it. I’ve lost entire days from each time I’ve run into the hassle of activation.

I’m not trying to get around license rights, 1 license per 1 user is fair and I understand that, but 1 user does NOT equal 1 computer. It doesn’t even equal 1 desktop and 1 laptop any more. For example, I use a Powerbook, except when my partner needs to take it on a business trip - so now I have to use his non-internet accessible G5 - until an associate needs to use the G5 to edit video, in which case I now have to use one of our older desktop systems. Or I’m traveling with the Powerbook and airport security drops it while checking that I’m not a terrorist and now I suddenly have to use a loaner system while I’m away- can you begin to imagine the hell that activation adds to these situations? And in all of these examples, it’s still just me alone trying to use the software.

So please with the attitude that we’re all trying to get something for nothing here if we’re unhappy with required activation. It has been hell for me every time I have to deal with it for Studio MX and I end up feeling like an idiot for having shelled out good money for the privilege of having the company prevent me from actually using it. And how exactly is that good business?

Ray 13 Apr 05

While I agree that software companies have the right to protect their property, I disagree with their arguably predatory practices…such as making it necessary to upgrade products in order to continue to do work with the rest of the world. Say you’re on Illustrator 10, and a client moves to CS? Their files aren’t backwards compatible, you’re dinked unless you fork out cash for a product you don’t otherwise need.

No, a gun isn’t being held to our heads, we *could* quit design and get a job at the coffeeshop, but my point is why institute policies which amount to forcing people to buy your product?

If you’re product is good and is in demand, people will fork for the upgrade. I am more than happy with Photoshop 7, don’t need PS CS, and don’t want to be forced to spend money on an upgrade just because everyone else is doing it.

True, software is a cost of doing business, but if you’ve checked the news lately, you know that not all sectors of the economy are rockin’ and many major ad agencies continue to make do with the same gear and programs they had going into the recession of 2000.

Ray

Zee 13 Apr 05

Another side of the coin is to begin supporting open source efforts in design apps.

Gimp is a stellar example of an alternative to Photoshop. Performs decently on a G5, is free, and tho lacking some Photoshop tools and toys, the Gimp solidly covers all the main tools you need for image control and manipulation.

Consider that Photoshop for Mac has been around since what..1988?? The Gimp for OS X, to my knowledge, has been available only since 2000 or 2001.

Not bad for the efforts of some generous folks willing to code for free in their spare time.

What if we all showed vigorous support for the Gimp and other open source applications? Or even sent a few bucks to help the work along?

That might help accelerate development of open source apps, give us ever more viable alternatives to graphic software, and might inspire huge companies like Adobe to re-consider the strongarm tactics.

zee

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