Adobe Controversy: new terms and conditions

An Adobe controversy has just been generated. The company launched an update of its terms that introduced modifications on licenses that have generated a great issue. They will have the right to view and manipulate your files (automated and manual).

In this article, I talk about clause 4.2. of Adobe’s term. I will explain the central implications of the Adobe controversy, and give my opinion about it.

Adobe controversy: section 4.2. and licensing rights

This section was originally released announcing the following changes (with changes afterward) I quote below:

Solely for the purpose of operating of improving the Services and Software, you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, license, to use, reproduce, publicly display, distribute, modify, create derivative works based on publicity perform, and translate the Content. For example, we may sublicense our right to the Content of our service providers or to other users to allow the Services and Software to operate as intended, such as enabling you to share photos with others. 

Adobe General Terms of Use

In general terms, Adobe is proposing a change in its licensing policies. It mentions that the authorship of our content is ours. However, they reserve all licenses to do with that content as they see fit.

By accepting these terms and conditions (which are mandatory to use their software), we retain ownership of our content, but Adobe has special licenses. This poses a danger to intellectual property, copyright, and user privacy. With such permissions, Adobe is free to manipulate any production we have made.

Dangers behind section 4.2.

Beyond the violation of privacy and the integrity of our content (which is not a minor fact), there are negative implications of these changes in their terms and conditions.

One of the main criticisms of content creators is that such manipulation can be used for training their artificial intelligence. Such training doesn’t offer compensation for designers and is an unethical practice.

Another major complaint is the indiscriminate distribution of authored content. It is, certainly, a depreciation of the individual value that creators and designers place on their work.

Of course, the focus of criticism is on the privacy of our files. Let’s remember that many creators work with sensitive and private content; likewise, other creators have NDAs that prohibit the distribution and dissemination of certain types of content.

Another complaint is that it is unclear what limits Adobe has with such manipulation. While they clarify that they will only review content to their Creative Cloud, the truth is that other documents that accompany the terms and conditions indicate otherwise.

Clarifications on the Adobe Controversy

According to the T&Cs, these measures will not affect the authority of our content. They will simply use these licenses to distribute, move, or manipulate our content (which is an aberration in itself).

Likewise, according to the terms and conditions, Adobe will not use our content to train its artificial intelligence. Rather, their AI image generator, Adobe Firefly, or any artificial intelligence inside Adobe’s software will not have access to our content. Instead, they will use content available in Creative Cloud, Behance, Adobe Live, Adobe Stock and use references from the public with expired licenses. 

Also, in the face of the great criticism that Adobe has encountered and the prominent number of content creators who are canceling their subscriptions, they have decided to publish an update to their terms and conditions. In this document, they retain the same points from section 4.2., but emphasize the primacy of copyright and the authority of users over their content. 

However, following their T&Cs to the letter, as they have licenses and sublicenses to access our content, these clarifications generate more suspicion than certainty.

Alternatives for creators instead of Adobe

Undoubtedly, beyond updating the post-criticism terms and explaining their own conditions in more detail, the truth is that the discomfort with Adobe has led many users to abandon its ecosystem of creative tools.

Indeed, there are some interesting alternatives to replace some of Adobe’s software. One of the great contenders of the American creative titan is the British company Affinity. It is a brand with a small ecosystem of creative applications very close to what Adobe offers.

Affinity has three applications with practically the same services. Their compatibility with the Adobe ecosystem is very efficient, they incorporate the same functions and, what most attracts users, is the possibility of having a service without subscriptions.

 The three software available in Affinity are:

  • Affinity Photo. Equivalent to Photoshop, it is a photo editing software.
  • Affinity Design. Equivalent to Illustrator, it is a software for illustrations and designs.
  • Affinity Publisher. Equivalent to InDesign, it is a software for layouts.

There are also other interesting software. For example, to replace animation and video programs we have Da Vinci Resolve. It allows us to edit videos very efficiently with a free public version. Although, it also has a paid version without subscriptions.

My position on the Adobe controversy

The Adobe controversy is only one of the many problems behind this company. I believe that the excessive greedy mercantilist and corporatist mentality has gone to the extreme. Their prices are becoming more excessive and their cancellation terms are simply abusive.

I have already purchased Affinity and Da Vinci Resolve licenses, and they show promise. These new programs have met all my expectations and I am very happy about the change.

I do consider Adobe a very complete, interesting, and universal ecosystem. I have been using it for more than a decade in all my creative projects. Personally, I think they have the best software for content creation. But, due to all the problems generated with the licenses, added to the high prices you have to pay for their subscriptions, I have considered other options. For the time being, both I and my wallet are very happy with the decision. From RPB Marketing we are going to give a chance to other types of software that are supportive of content creators.

Ronald Barroeta
Ronald Barroeta

Digital content strategist. +10 years of experience in Content Creation, SEO Analysis and Media Buying. Enthusiastic about digital technologies, humanism, reading, video games and football.

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