Thursday, January 10, 2013

Free Adobe Photoshop, From Adobe . . . Legally Until Further Notice

At work, I use Adobe Photoshop CS2.  It came from a retail package that is sitting on my shelf right now, with the serial number on the box.  I have been happily working with my 100% legit, activated, non-pirated CS2 for ages.  Then I upgraded my computer at work to a much-fancier one and installed a 64-bit copy of Windows to take advantage of many-times-larger RAM capacity in the new machine.  This means reinstalling and reactivating Photoshop.  It went like this:
  • Install CS2 using serial number from the box
  • Attempt to register with Adobe
  • Fail
  • Try again
  • Fail again
  • Call the phone number from the registration dialog box onscreen
  • Phone robot says go to and use my Adobe account to access a special download page
  • Visit download page
  • Stare slack-jawed as I see that ALL the 8 year-old Adobe software is apparently free (for me, the existing customer) to download, with activation serial numbers right there on the page
  • Uninstall CS2 as directed
  • Reinstall with the new package from
  • Select "Never Register"
  • Continue to use Photoshop CS2 to make gobs of money.
FIVE days before I went through this exercise, they turned off their registration servers.  This sucked, because the original, purchased software called home to activate itself with your unique serial key, once installed on your computer - and with the server down it couldn't activate.  As a courtesy to us dinosaurs on CS2 (current version is CS6) they made up a new installer that no longer calls the non-active activation server.  Sweet, thanks Adobe!

Then a few days later, everybody from Forbes to my boss were talking about how Adobe was just plain GIVING AWAY CS2.  It looks like one of a few things happened:
  • They decided to crush ALL interest in the GIMP and other free/lower-cost image editing software by slipping an old, but still very useable version of CS2 out into the wild.  Canny, and very good thinking!
  • They don't care anymore and could give a [deleted] what you do with CS2, but to get us to stop calling their support line they slapped this up there and STILL don't care
  • They put it up as a good-will gesture for legitimate customers, but didn't change the EULA or make a specific statement that it is only for paying customers, and then realized it was too late to change it now
The official statement on the matter from Adobe so far is "we did it for you, VFD, thanks for ponying up way back when, we still love you!"  The practial truth of the matter is that the End User License Agreement and the official statement both specifically FAIL to say "you have to have a PURCHASED licensed copy to use the free download everyone is talking about."  The EULA says "you need to have got it from us" and the statement does NOT say "you need to have bought it from us" AND I think most importantly, they have since removed the requirement that you sign up for a new adobe account to reach the download page.  Furthermore, they have said exactly bubkis about the subject for a week now.  Some online reportage is saying they didn't mean to give it away, but without a clear statement, they are probably just in CYA mode, reading things that aren't there into the non-statement Adobe posted at the first.

I think the very best thing Adobe can do now is to make a statement like Adobe forum member stagesound suggested:
"Due to a screwup with our activation server, we inadvertently published an activation-free version of CS2 along with the serial numbers to make the software usable. Since we've effectively given CS2 away, we may as well make it official - good luck to all new Adobe software users. You can now dump your open source or low-budget alternatives, and once you've used your CS2 for a while, we hope you'll consider trading up to the later versions which you'll enjoy even more!"

but I can't blame them if they don't.  We'll see, I guess.

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