from the you-don't-own-what-you-buy dept
For years we’ve noted repeatedly how in the modern era you no longer truly own the things you buy. From game consoles that magically lose important functionality post purchase, to digital purchases that just up and disappear, we now live in an era where a quick firmware update can erode functionality and overlong EULAs can strip away all of your rights in an instant, leaving you with a hole in your pocket and a glorified paperweight.
The latest case in point: Adobe this week began warning users of its Creative Cloud software applications that they are no longer authorized to use older versions of the company’s software platforms (Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director). In the letter, Adobe rather cryptically implied that users could risk copyright infringement claims by mysterious third parties if they continued using older versions of these platforms and refused to update them. End users, not surprisingly, were equal parts confused and annoyed:
I just got an email from @Adobe that I'm no longer allowed to use the software that I'm paying for. Time to cancel my subscription I guess.
Share plz. pic.twitter.com/ZIIdqK5AkM
— Matt Roszak ? (@KupoGames) May 10, 2019
When I pressed Adobe for more detail on why users might risk being sued for using something they thought they owned, they weren’t willing to say much more than what was already in the letters:
“Adobe recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications. Customers using those versions have been notified that they are no longer licensed to use them and were provided guidance on how to upgrade to the latest authorized versions. Unfortunately, customers who continue to use or deploy older, unauthorized versions of Creative Cloud may face potential claims of infringement by third parties.”
While Adobe couldn’t be bothered to clarify this fact, the company was apparently making a vague reference to its ongoing legal dispute with Dolby Labs. Dolby sued Adobe last year (pdf) for copyright violations after it wasn’t happy with the new revenue sharing arrangement crafted in the wake of Adobe’s 2013 shift toward its controversial cloud-based “software as a subscription” model. There’s really no indication that Dolby would actually sue Adobe customers, and it seems more than likely that Adobe was just interested in throwing some shade at Dolby — without making it entirely clear that’s what they were doing.
Regardless, copyright experts were quick to point out that given the overbroad nature of modern EULAs, users are completely out of luck when it comes to having any real legal recourse:
“Dylan Gilbert, a copyright expert with consumer group Public Knowledge, said in this instance users aren?t likely to have much in the way of legal recourse to the sudden shift. ?Unless Adobe has violated the terms of its licensing agreement by this sudden discontinuance of support for an earlier software version, which is unlikely, these impacted users have to just grin and bear it,? Gilbert said.
There’s plenty of legitimate reasons users may not want to update to the latest versions. Artists and creators often don’t like updating to new versions in the middle of a project lest some unexpected bugs cause problems. But again, in the modern era you not only don’t own what you buy, but any recourse to the ground shifting beneath your feet is stripped away by overlong EULAs that leave you powerless to actually do much of anything about it. Outside of refusing to buy products from companies that engage in unnecessary scare mongering and routinely undermine your rights, that is.