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Inducement To Piracy, Adobe Style 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
S Vulpy writes "A post at the Social Science Research Council's website talks about how piracy greases the wheels of the Adobe Creative Suite marketplace by making it easier to deal with Adobe breaking compatibility between versions. Quoting: '... such incompatibility doesn’t involve exotic functionality, just straight text layout into columns and boxes. The kind of stuff that has been core functionality of publishing software since the early 1990s. Translate this dilemma to Brazil or Russia, where incomes are a fraction that of the US and you get a very simple outcome: massive piracy of Adobe products. In fact, go through this process in the last month of a 4-year project on a deadline and one could understand becoming extremely sympathetic to such a perspective. This, as we’ve argued, is not a defect of the Adobe business model, it is the business model.'"
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Inducement To Piracy, Adobe Style

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  • Soon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SquirrelDeth (1972694) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:47PM (#35723256)
    income in the states will will be a fraction what is was. Who is going to pay Adobe then?
    • Businesses.
      • by hitmark (640295)

        Indeed. I am reminded of a supposed Microsoft related quote stating that hey would much rather that people pirate Windows and Office then use Linux and Openoffice.

    • We can provide corporate welfare to adobe. Are they a US or EU company?

    • Taxpayers.

  • So, basically, vendor lock-in is good for the vendor, and it allows the vendors to make a new version of the tool which is no longer compatible so that people need to upgrade on a pretty regular basis.

    And, yes, I can certainly see how if the software is going to cost you more than a decade's worth of income or more, you're going to pirate it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      or, you know, don't upgrade at all. keep the damned 2004 version. it's not like the 2004 (or something) version was so bugged that no quality stuff came out that year.

      so shut the hell up, go see some doctor for the obsessive compulsive problem about using the latest and greatest release of all and get the job done.
      • by AdamThor (995520)

        And I guess hope that 2004 is the version that your co-workers decided to keep as well? And that you don't have to get any new licenses because a new member joined your team? B/C each version is fairly significantly incompatible with the others. So says the article.

      • by t2t10 (1909766) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:29PM (#35723626)

        That may work if you're a nerd living in your mother's basement. However, back in the real world, people collaborate, and that's when network effects come in: when your customers send you files in the latest format, you need to be able to read them.

        • if a customer wants to dictate the technology the customer is to provide the required licenses for the work to be done. or, at least, that's what happens when you and your customer are serious and professional about your work.

          and then there are the other improvised self learned 'professionals' that work on the six-month-project-soon-to-be-discarded-because-it's-a-mess-of-incompatibility-and-misunderstandings.
          • Really? You're going to tag on the cost of CS5 to your clients bill? I don't know what kind of "serious and professional" work you do but if anyone did that in most industries they'd be looking for a new client.

            • if the customer is changing the version requirements mid project, of course, why not.

              either way you'll have to bill the customer for all the additional work of upgrading and validating again all the past and present deliverables, so in the overall bill the 2.5K of the super uber duper version of the creative master collection are dwarfed by the bill for the additional work you're billing to your client for their upgrade decision.

              it's not like that a version come out every other month, so you're not going to
        • by hitmark (640295)

          Ah yes, the old MS Office file formats issues...

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The problem is ... we get documents from people who have upgraded because they had no choice (a new purchase for a growing company for instance) or because they didn't realize they'd need to save as an older format all the time for people who haven't upgraded.

        It turns into a big pain in the ass, and the end result is you usually eventually end up upgrading just to smooth out the workflow, that costs you less money than time wasted trying to get document in the older format.

        All because its part of Adobe's pl

      • The #1 reason people upgrade is not because the old software was buggy or ran too slow, quite the opposite. Instead, the vendors keep changing the file formats to force upgrades. How is that an obsessive-compulsive problem with customers? Is it an obsession, wanting to be able to actually read the files that people send you? Perhaps being a control-freak dictating what everybody else is using is a lesser evil?

      • RTFA -- This point is addressed there. It would be all well and good to just keep one version of the software around, but vendors such as Adobe and Intuit go out of their way to break compatibility between versions. If, say, you want to keep your old version of Quickbooks, it will work just fine for you until you decide to share the files with your accountant. If he has a newer version, you are SOL. This is absurdly shitty, anti-consumer business practice and I think the best way to fight it would be for pr
      • by Yo Grark (465041)

        Dunno, took them til Adobe X to fix the f*ckin TypeWriter tool!

        Then they had the audacity to tell me I had to pay another 200 for the upgrade because "it works now".

        If ever I wanted to sue a company......

        Yo Grark

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        I don't mess with CS but if its anything like that God damned bastard child from hell QuickBooks there is no way in hell to keep the old version because they tied a bunch of old shit that will NOT run in a newer OS to it!

        I had to set up a ton of dual boots and XP modes around here because QB is God in these parts, and I quickly learned to hate that POS! It ties itself to flash player 7 that's right, flash 7, which is no longer supported and won't run on anything higher than XP. It doesn't matter if you have

      • so shut the hell up, go see some doctor for the obsessive compulsive problem about using the latest and greatest release of all and get the job done.

        In the context of Adobe products, the 'obsessive compulsion' you're talking about is normally called 'keeping a roof over your head'. If I were stuck with the '2004 version' (Photoshop 7, in this case), I'd be behind my colleagues in productivity.

      • by Builder (103701)

        What about when you buy a new camera and the only way to get photoshop to open the files is to upgrade? You don't want the features but they don't back port camera raw to earlier versions of photoshop.

        I had all my photography gear stolen and couldn't get the same model camera as I used to have.

  • Seems that this just becomes the standard when you have a stranglehold on the market. Maximize global profits by squeezing every dime out of the rich countries while poorer nations are the wild west.
    • by rsborg (111459)

      Seems that this just becomes the standard when you have a stranglehold on the market. Maximize global profits by squeezing every dime out of the rich countries while poorer nations are the wild west.

      I was just about to say this. It's also a very 20th century, as times are changing, and power is shifting. Look to businesses that have a grip on wrangling sustainable profit from all regions and not just rent-seeking via platform domination.

  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:06PM (#35723410) Homepage Journal

    As an outsider looking in, I noticed Adobe never seemed to put any serious DRM on their software. Computer games put more effort into it than Photoshop ever did. I was always surprised how easy it was to install & use Adobe products with a single serial number used by thousands. I know they did make efforts to stop the distribution, but never as hard-core as Microsoft became with Office. And considering the prices they charged, I figured Adobe would.

    Then it occurred to me after working with artists who trained on Adobe products (pirated in some cases), etc. that Adobe's _real_ market for the $1000+ titles are businesses: advertising companies, professional graphic designers, businesses, etc. Going after the hobbyist or the poor artists wasn't their style. And then it clicked: when the artists came to my company, they got the company to buy Adobe products. *THUNK!* The network effect [wikipedia.org]. If they can get more people used to using Adobe and associating certain high-value work with Adobe products, then the more likely they are to push for Adobe at work. And thus more money they can squeeze from businesses who make money.

    So to me, allowing a certain low level amount of piracy was always part of Adobe's game.

    • Actually they've had varying degrees of registration hoops over the years (if I recall for CS2 you actually had to dial a number to get key confirmation). That said, tools like Photoshop are so popular cracks and workarounds show up almost immediately after launch.

      On the plus side newer versions seem to have fewer useful additions but more off-putting cosmetic changes that make cheaper alternatives more appealing.

      • The newer versions also seem to get more and more bloated and require more powerful computers to do the same stuff as previous versions of the software. I've never understood this. And the fact that each new version breaks compatability of older file versions with the new software version is a nasty tactic. Professional designers are forced to upgrade whether or not they can afford to, or indeed want to. This applies both to the hardware and software. On the Mac, you must have an Intel processor to use the
      • by Kalriath (849904)

        Personally, I find the best feature of CS5 to be that trial expiry no longer works. Every time it starts on my PC, it claims I've got 30 days left to evaluate, then when it finally actually starts it claims the trial has expired but I can run it *just one more time*.

        Rinse and repeat.

    • by Synn (6288) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:26PM (#35723602)

      95%, if not more, of people using Photoshop don't need it. We tried for a major push for Adobe Elements at one place I worked at, but a lot of people wanted Photoshop just because it was the "grown up"/Real product.

      • by Telvin_3d (855514)

        It's one of those things where even if Elements (or Gimp or whatever) does 99% of what you need it only takes that 1% to be deeply annoying.

    • Don't forget schools. Art schools have to buy tons of licenses with each new version release (although they are usually a version or two behind since CS2).
    • by mlts (1038732) *

      This is due to two reasons:

      1: DRM isn't needed in businesses due to the BSA. Fear of running afoul of the BSA keeps the licenses current in almost any company, and companies who don't license their software are just one ex-employee with an "anonymous" report away from being shut down due to large fines.

      2: Adobe is the only game in town. Realistically here, the high end camera makers don't write plugins for the GIMP, so if one wants to make use of the RAW images from one's EOS-1 or other camera without l

      • by Pulzar (81031)

        Realistically here, the high end camera makers don't write plugins for the GIMP, so if one wants to make use of the RAW images from one's EOS-1 or other camera without losing data, they are either using Photoshop, or perhaps Lightroom.

        Nikon and Canon don't write plugins for Adobe products, either. Adobe writes them, and they don't even have full access to RAW specs, as camera manufactures keep them proprietary and secret. Most of it is reverse-engineered, with some (unknown) data simple being unused by Adob

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Realistically here, the high end camera makers don't write plugins for the GIMP, so if one wants to make use of the RAW images from one's EOS-1 or other camera without losing data, they are either using Photoshop, or perhaps Lightroom.

          Nikon and Canon don't write plugins for Adobe products, either. Adobe writes them, and they don't even have full access to RAW specs, as camera manufactures keep them proprietary and secret. Most of it is reverse-engineered, with some (unknown) data simple being unused by Adob

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      The same reason software companies give their software away for free for Universities to use, and having cheap "educational" copies...

      Its not out of the goodness of their hearts. Its because they know that the more people that know how to use their product will help decide what products business will use in the future.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      And you know the most funny part of that ? Adobe is not even aware that it is working this way ! Shareholders do not realize that they are at the mercy of a dumb manager that will one day decide that the next versions of Photoshop will require a constant net access for DRM purpose.
    • I noticed Adobe never seemed to put any serious DRM on their software...

      I bet that Dmitri Skylarov [wikipedia.org] has a different opinion.

  • For many students, the cost and availability of the software is an issue. MS makes the software available very cheap to education to combat piracy. After the cost of the machine, Apple products are all but free. For certain programs, there are equivalent free alternatives. Typically such alternatives do not exist for Adobe products.

    Therefore I would argue that Adobe is the last major software house that depends on piracy to promote products. Companies do not really have the time and money to train us

    • You forgot Autodesk. If you think Photoshop is expensive.....

      That said, Autodesk doesn't seem to make it hard to pirate. You can just uninstall Maya and Mudbox on OS X and reinstall the 30 day trial. They offer great educational discounts (except that you have to be a real, live student).
  • > Ah it's good to get my daily SlashKos dose, where there's always a
    > featured story about how stealing is justified because of teh evil
    > capitalismz0rz!!

    +...versus the classic pseudo libertarian mindset.

    "Tort reform for the rich. Crime and punishment for the poor."

    The sad part is that the poor buy into this nonsense and happily cheer along their corporate overlords as if the last 500 years of social and political progress never happened at all.

  • by Stenchwarrior (1335051) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:15PM (#35723490)

    I can tell you from experience that Intuit (Quickbooks, Quicken, Peachtree...etc.) are the worst about this. A company can effectively run the same version for several years, but if they want to share their books with an accountant (as most probably will), then the client and the accountant must all have matching software versions. If the account decides to take the brunt, then they must have enough licenses to run multiple copies simultaneously which becomes VERY expensive, plus a version for each year that their clients have. Not only do the licenses cost money, but you better have at least a 100Gb drive on every computer to hold all versions, plus a hefty dose of RAM to handle the app, plus all the others that a typical accounting firm needs to run (Office, PPC, CCH...etc).

    It's a fucking racket, I tell you. The partners at my accounting firm hate me when I have to deliver the budget.

    • I submit that Rockwell Software is yet worse.

      If you have an Allen Bradley Logix series PLC, its firmware must match your version of RSLogix all the way down to the point release. Unless you maintain a support agreement there is no upgrade path, you just buy the full new version.

      You can reflash the PLC's firmware but that often sticks you with known bugs.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Are there Open Source accounting apps available? Seems to me that accounting isn't exactly rocket science, just about anybody can write an accounting app, even a Visual Basic programmer...
      • Not with the tools, tables, laws and features that the commercial apps have. The software we use takes the guess-work out of each states' specific laws and provides neat little forms for every scenario. I suppose someone could build an open-source platform but they'd have to be a tax lawyer proficient in all states and a programmer and no one would ever put that much time into something that ends up being free. Once maybe, but every year Congress passes new laws that must be updated in the software in order
      • by jonescb (1888008)

        I know of GNU Cash, but I've never used it. Like Stenchwarrior said, I don't think GNU Cash has all the legalese in it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Piracy is not what drives the business model. Piracy is a variable that gets dealt with, and sometimes the best way to deal with it is through benign neglect, as is pointed out by the Microsoft model.

    What you perceive in Adobe as being driven by the pirate, or you desire not to update, is simply a failure to understand that you are not the target market. The target market is not just one person, but the professional eco-system. And more important that the price at anytime, the solution provides the overa

  • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:30PM (#35723636)

    My computer at work is licensed for Acrobat 8 Professional. After upgrading Microsoft Office 2003 to 2010, I can no longer create PDF files from Word documents. Looking online, the solution to this issue from Adobe appears to be "upgrade to Acrobat X". Yeah, thanks.

    • Re:Acrobat (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Telvin_3d (855514) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:46PM (#35723816)

      Wait. Microsoft did a major change in their software. After upgrading to the new version of Word you discovered that Adobe's four year old software didn't know how to talk to Microsoft's brand new software. And this is Adobe's fault?

      • I'm very sorry, I don't know what I was thinking.

      • by yakatz (1176317)

        Wait. Microsoft did a major change in their software. After upgrading to the new version of Word you discovered that Adobe's four year old software didn't know how to talk to Microsoft's brand new software. And this is Adobe's fault?

        And then you look at Microsoft's brand new software closely and realize that Microsoft's brand new software does not NEED to EVER talk to ANY of Adobe's software.
        You can create all the PDFs you want for FREE (okay, you did buy Office for how many hundred dollars).

    • by Kozz (7764)

      When all you need is a very simple, portable document... PDFCreator [pdfforge.org].

    • by Inda (580031)
      It's always installed itself as a printer driver; you can 'print' from any application.
  • Adobe, like Intuit and Microsoft, has worked for decades to establish a dominant position in their market. They are entitled to milk it as hard as they want, reap the benefits and suffer the consequences. I've seen drug companies do the same with drugs protected by patents. Once they establish an installed base with a dependency, they raise their prices, sometimes ten- to fifty-fold. Their customers have fewer options, too. Of course, once the patent rights expire, the drug price drops like a rock. Ad
  • Every time you tools play along and facilitate this stuff, you're helping create the problem.

    Doesn't matter whether its Office, CS, or something else. If I can't plunk down 200-300$ and get a workable suite, I'm going to stay away.

  • Seriously, how hard can it be to not upgrade. If you're working on a huge project in-house, don't upgrade your software half-way through, unless you're prepared to update all copies of it.

    InDesign, the software mentioned in the article, will automatically upgrade the format of the document when opened in a new version with no warning. This can be a problem. It also does allow you to downsave by one version (CS5 can save as InDesign Interchange format, which will open in CS4. CS4 to INX for CS3).

    If you have the Creative Suite, you really should be on volume licensing - even if it's just one copy. It's not a well known fact, but individuals can purchase volume licensing and there is no minimum buy-in to their TLP licensing program. Licensing copies are cheaper than retail box copies, you can re-download your installers if you lose them, Adobe keep a record of your serial number/proof of purchase if you loose it or are audited and you can purchase maintenance if you want to keep your copies up-to-date for less than the regular upgrade cost.

    Also, with licensing, if you purchase a copy of, say, CS5, but you're running all CS4 licenses in your studio, you can install a copy of CS4 instead using your CS4 volume license serial number.

    There's no arguing that the Creative Suite is expensive, but if you're smart about it, you can keep the costs down a bit.

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