Why You Should Be Offended By The Pirating of Photoshop

Why You Should Be Offended By The Pirating of Photoshop

Okay, I get it. Hundreds of thousands of you are offended by Adobe's choice to go to the Creative Cloud. I understand, I was leading the forefront with my torch in hand. Renting software sounds like a ludicrous statement, especially when half the software you won't even use. So why shouldn't you just pirate it?

The answer is simple, because your career forbids you to.

So whether you're an amateur photographer just starting out, or on the cusp of opening your second studio location, you should know better. You're in this industry for one thing, to create; and if all goes well, make a living creating photos for yourself and for your clients. Nobody joins the art industry to make a ton of money. In fact, jokes are thrown around constantly about the idea of a starving artist. You're not on this career path to become rich and famous, because there is very little money to be had in the art community. And the fame? Lets talk the fame.

When I was at WPPI this year, I had a long discussion with Jeremy Cowart at the Framed Awards. I was absolutely star struck, but playing it off as cool as I could. Eventually I asked him how he handles all of his success and his adoring fans. He said simply, he doesn't. Sure, Cowart is considered a genius to many of us, and many of would kill to have a couple hours to pick his brain. But the fact remains, Jeremy Cowart is still buying his own groceries, and can still be seen walking the streets alone in his hometown of Nashville. Jeremy Cowart is only famous to the market of Photography, and that market is far smaller than you might imagine.

So to get back on point, why shouldn't you pirate Photoshop? It's simple, because you don't want people stealing your images and using them for whatever they'd like. In fact, you spend so much time making sure people don't steal your images or ideas. You constantly complain when someone asks you to shoot their band for free. You're up in arms when a concert gives you a ticket to their show in exchange for event photography. You want to the art industry to be taken seriously, yet you have no problems with stealing from Adobe to save a couple bucks. By pirating Photoshop, the only thing you're telling the art community is that you don't care about them at all.


"But Adobe is a multi million dollar company!"


Absolutely, they are, and they deserve every dollar they make. They have built their company from the ground up by being innovative and tailoring to the market's needs. I was just discussing this with a photographer over the weekend. Does anyone remember PaintShop Pro? I loved that program ten years ago, even more so than Photoshop. Where is PaintShop Pro now? It still exists, if you believe it. But it's faded off into obscurity, because they were no longer able to meet the demands that the industry wanted. Adobe surpassed them on every level because Adobe is constantly asking themselves "What can we do next?".

Adobe has continuously impressed us with the technology they've been able to create. When content aware fill was introduced, my brain nearly exploded with shock. Even their latest tool, Camera Shake Reduction is straight out of science fiction. I'm convinced they're about 2 years behind from making the CSI-esque tool "Enhance" a reality.

They're constantly adapting and improving, more so than any software company in existence. You need to reward them for their hard work and diligence. Sure, the Creative Cloud is a pain in the ass. I too, like having the disc in front of me and the appearance of owning the software. But when you start using Creative Cloud, you'll find that it wasn't built to piss you off, it was build to help push innovations through at a much faster rate. It was built to increase your workflow, by allowing you to download Premiere Pro with the click of a button, or to search through thousands of fonts that they're offering up for free (Over $200,000 market value worth apparently).

Adobe is making millions with their products, but that is no reason for you to boycott them as long as they're still creating fantastic products. If your photography career begins to take off and you start making good money at it, does that give anyone else the right to kick in your door and take your things?


"But $50/$20 a month is a crazy price to put on software"


Is it though? I mean, thats $600 a year for all of Adobe's software, and $240 a year for just Photoshop. And sure that seems like a lot, however I just purchased a Canon 5d Mark III 2 weeks ago. That camera costs well over 3,000 dollars, and have I noticed an astonishing improvement over my work from when I was shooting with the Canon 5d Mark II? Absolutely not. The photos on my website are well over 2 weeks old, and my printed portfolios have remained unchanged since the purchase of this new camera. Why is that? Because it's a tool, and with how I shoot photos, the Mark III and Mark II do not make any difference to my work whatsoever. I wanted it because I wanted it, not because I needed it.

I NEED Photoshop. It has worked its way so far into my workflow that there is no turning back. Photoshop has helped improve my work far more than the Canon 5d Mark III ever will, and the Mark III cost far more than I've ever paid Adobe for anything. So why is okay to spend thousands of dollars to Nikon/Canon annually without much thought and the idea of paying Adobe for their cutting edge tools absurd. Is it because you can't illegally download the Mark III firmware to your Mark II and be set? Good riddance.

If you do some math on the topic, the Cloud actually turns out to be cheaper. If you're only using Photoshop, you can get it right now for $20 a month. Buying Photoshop CS6 (an old version no less) right out the door costs $666 on Amazon. So by that math, it'll take you 2.7 years before Photoshop CC has reached its value from the boxed editions of the software. Within those 2.7 years, Adobe will certainly have at least one, if not two new versions of the software available for you to use. So how are you not saving money with this plan?

Like most people, I spend $9.99 on Netflix a month, $9 on Spotify Premium monthly, and $9 on Hulu Plus monthly. How have those services helped my career as a photographer? If anything, they've hurt it far more than helped it. I use those tools to procrastinate and get away from the work I should be doing.


So I'll leave you with this. Piracy is going to happen, that's the nature of the beast. If you can build something, someone out there can find a way to tear it all down. So it all really comes down to who you're supporting. Are you going to stand at the sidelines and cheer for the guys who are creating things beyond your own imagination, or are you going to root for the people who come in looking to destroy that idea and innovation? Being a creative mind myself, I'll gladly choose the former.

[PSA - I am not endorsed, sponsored or accredited to Adobe in anyway whatsoever. All of the opinions in this article are of my own and no one elses. This article was written in like...15 minutes in response to this.]

Image via iStockPhoto

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I can't believe I just read this.
SImilar? Dude, you can't compare the frequency of updates of a MMO with photoshop, you can't compare the bandwidth and processing requirements of a MMO with CC, you can't compare the number of people necessary to maintain a MMO.

A MMO works around the clock and have massive updates released quite often, and what you have with CC? An occasional update, and a new version after a relatively long period of time.
A MMO really depends on the cloud, Creative Cloud not so much.
When you buy a license of photoshop you ARE paying for the contiued development of the software.
Adobe is renting a tool, not a service, the services attached to it are secondary.
You can use dropbox of another service to store your files and also have unlimited downloads.
And who uses any of these software in more than one machine? Only a handful of people.

Remove your head from your ass and see the reality, adobe is ripping people off with this new model, simple as that.

I disagree with you. Get over it, and stop whining.

You can sell cameras, too.

Rooting against CC is NOT the same thing as rooting FOR piracy.

Here here!! Totally agree with you & I found the OP's inference otherwise highly insulting.

Zach Sutton's picture

The title of this post is about piracy. The picture associated with this post is piracy related. Everything in this article stems from piracy.

Yet you still think it has to do with you not liking CC?

As long as you don't pirate it, this article doesn't apply to you...

The whole premise of this article is to explain why people who do not like CC should not pirate software.

The implication is that people complaining about CC are more inclined to pirate the software, which is somewhat insulting.

To the contrary, I believe that the people complaining loudest are existing paying customers - the group of people most likely to be future paying customers for Adobe software, and who are happy to pay on reasonable terms.

People who pirate don't care about prices and thus have no reason to complain, or even take a passing interest in this controversy. Good luck reaching them.

Being able to afford to $20 does not make the $20 worth the money.

Lee Morris's picture

Well of course. But if you are a professional making thousands of dollars a month using software then $20 is nothing. If you're not, then you probably shouldn't even care what the cost is because it doesn't apply to you.

Zach Sutton's picture

My sole income comes from photography. I am dependent on Photoshop as one of the tools I use for my business. The $20 is absolutely worth the money, as I make all my money based off of that $20.

I'm sorry, but your statement makes no sense. How is your sole income from photography, but all your business comes from that $20? You don't use a camera?

wow.... no. all of his product is based on photoshop.... as in he uses photoshop on all of his work. that $20 is an essential part of his business. Of course he has a camera....

"I make all my all my money based off of that $20". His statement is blatantly wrong. I assumed that is what he meant, but that is not what he wrote. Being clear around here is very downplayed apparently.

Your lack of understanding is your own fault. I, and others, understood him perfectly.

So you wouldn't care if your cable company and cell phone company just jacked up their prices, simply because the bills you pay are part of the cost of doing business?

Lee Morris's picture

Yes I do care when that happens (they do it all the time). I guess I just don't see Adobe doing this. $20 is cheaper than almost any monthly payment I have and I use it every single day. I just purchased CS6 a few months ago so I probably won't be joining the cloud until I really need to but when I do, $20-$50/month will be better than dropping another $2.5k

Lee you can't compare 20-50/month to dropping ANOTHER $2,500 because you would only pay the upgrade price and if you are a NAPP member you will save an additional 15%!! Oh and you can keep the product in full working order is you don't want to upgrade to the latest flavor.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think you have to upgrade every now and then because eventually your cameras RAW files won't work with the previous editions. Can D800 or D4 files open up in CS4? Maybe I'm wrong but I thought that was the case.

And even if you buy the upgrade suite on the full $2.5k master collection, that is still going to cost you about $500-700 which equals about 2-3 years of the subscription correct? I really don't understand this argument....I think people are really just upset that they can't illegally use PS anymore.

As a paid user of Lightroom since inception, 2 licences for Acrobat Pro (windows & OSX) CS6 Master Collection, CS5.5, CS5, CS4 Web Design Suite, CS3 Web Design well you get the idea. I still don't like the fact that we are RENTING software. Adobe should make it so if you decide to leave the CC then you will no longer receive updates but your program will still work; that is how Autodesk's subscription model works I have their products as well. Also as long as people can purchase LR the camera raw issue will not be a factor for new camera bodies.

According to the license agreement you are "Renting" your $800 copy of photoshop also IIRC. It's adobe's product and can be rescinded at their beck and call.

Trent, you have the exclusive right to use with no expiration date. The only reason I can think of that some people may have objection to the use of the word "own" is because the license agreement does not allow you to lawfully sell/resell the software. As far as the statement that Adobe can "repossess at will" and not for cause...I don't think there is a US judge in their right mind that would rule in that favor.

I know this is a HOT topic for many of us. For me it's plain and simple I do not want to support a company that rents you software. This business model will not stop piracy, I think the contrary and I pay my share for their software (see above comment). Adobe just needs to change the policy to be when you stop paying you stop getting updates but the software will continue to wok at that release. This model works for Autodesk and can work for Adobe too!

I see your side, it's actually very understand, people don't like change and people don't like certain ideas like not owning something. But in a case like this I think the obvious answer will be in 2~3 years seeing how people respond. Willing to bet it's going to be a big resounding..."Meh, CC isn't bad, it works, and I do it"

Sometimes I've learned though is that in the last 20 years of buying software, the only time adobe has sucked is Photoshop 6.1 crashathon. Otherwise they have done nothing but delivered something that deserved to be the industry standard...year, after year, after year, and because of their product I've made a living that's fed my family, my daughter, and more. I'm willing to be patient and see where this ends up.

Trent, I definitely respect that!

In 2-3 year, people will say "meh, cc isn't bad, it works, and I do it"…

Well in 2-3 year there will be no other choice but CC and people will be forced to adapt to it. If a perpetual license version is still available in 2-3 years' time, my guess is it wouldn't be as "resounding" as you might want to think.

I've used pirated copies of Adobe's software all throughout college, simply because even the the student priced iteration was still too much for me. I didn't pay for the Adobe software I use now but it is a licensed (to me) copy. I'm going to cling to my perpetual licensed CS version until it no longer works for me, which should work for at least another year or two (fingers crossed for update compatibility).

Have you made a dollar using photoshop Siegfried?

There is nothing awesome seeing someone say they got stuff for free or pirating to make money. It's like having a friend who borrows your camera every weekend to shoot paid gigs, and never thanking you are even taking you out to lunch.

What Siegfried said: In his college time he used pirated software, as everyone would do. NOW he uses licensed software, which obviously was paid by a third person/company.

Nope I didn't make a single red penny off of the pirated photoshop I used in college. It was used mainly for school projects. I didn't even make a single cent either from my legit/licensed copy of photoshop. I did make my employer plenty of money though. My employer paid for the software and gave me the serial to register under my name. I suppose you'd think that's wrong too since I didn't pay out of my pocket for photoshop and all the other software in the suite. Money changed hands and product/service rendered. I think that's pretty awesome, don't you?

Wait you used photoshop for your employer, (who paid you), and you didn't make a single penny.

How does this even work, did they pay you in food?

Personally, I prefer the Renting model.
I am not mega rich, and cannot afford to pay the £600 for adobe Photoshop and I do not work photography all the time -so every now and again - meaning one month I may have no work with photography - so don't need to pay for adobe - then the next month I might have 2 -3 shoots
so I can cover the £20 in less than 1 shoot for all 3.

However, they should offer both packages, Rental and out right buying - but I don't see why people would buy it when it's cheaper to rent - includes free upgrades to the latest model.

Didn't Adobe recently say that they will still be providing upgrades for CS6 to support new cameras in Camera RAW?