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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Artists from the US have an advantage? Now you're just being a baby. Adobe is based in the US, obviously its cheaper to sell here then other places due to trade taxes and differentiating international laws. Talk to you Gov't about why it's so much more expensive. Adobe's not just favoring the US cause they feel like it, I guarantee you...

That doesn't say anything, just that they charged more, and now the gov't made them charge less.

There we go, Adobe charged more because they had to maintain a certain profit margin. As more people began to purchase the product, the were able to decrease the price. Basic business scenario, but I'm a dumb American, what do I know?

Sorry I do not Agree, while I grant the fact that translating languages and taxes do justify a difference in price, in th UK and Australia they are essentially the same product that is sold to the US customer, they are delivered by the same website but cost 50-70% more, that IS price gouging!

They have to charge more because there weren't any customers! As soon as they got enough, they dropped the prices. Had the Gov't not gotten involved, the same thing would have happened. They don't benefit from permanently charging ridiculous fees, they just had to til they had a bigger customer base

sure and dogs can fly

Never said the hearing didn't speed things up, of course it did.

unlike you... i know how much more expensive CC would be for me if TAX woudl be the issue.

20% more expensiove.. but guess waht its way more expensieve then taht.

again a typical uneducated american answer from you.

americans generally think social wellfare is evil (until they get ill and would need it) and the issue for everything.

you are just replying the PR you read.. learn to think for yourself.

you are not worth talking too as long as you don´t do that.... so i stopp here

I understand you are angry, so am I!, but there is no need for name calling, we are trying to have a civilized discussion, lets keep the tone down

I am not replying any PR, it's common sense that dealing internationally has higher costs. You don't seem to understand there are more costs involved then just taxes. Typical Eurocrap tactic of blaming Americans for everything that isn't perfect in your life.

I don't want to talk about what stuff???? What have I been talking about this entire time?! Most people are complaining about the money, that is the most popular complaint, if you don't see that, you're not paying attention. There are definitely other causes for concern, just because I didn't mention that doesn't mean I'm not aware that they exist. Many people are concerned about the licensing, but if you read carefully, you DO own a licensed copy of the program. I am also aware that you have to have a pretty consistent internet connection, with bothers a lot of people, but that's not nearly as big of problem with the huge expansion of wifi networks across the globe, and the ability of tethering to phones, 4g hot spots, and other means for connecting. I realize that in other countries there are not as many ways for people to connect, but what people don't seem to realize is that CS6 is still a perfectly viable option, and an incredible tool, especially for people who don't have a constant internet connection.
I am aware of the differences in prices globally compared to the US, and if you read the press release from Adobe during the Australian hearing, they stated that they had to have an increased price in areas that there was less demand, in order to maintain their desired profit. As more people purchased the program in Australia, they were able to reduce the price.
That's just international business works, Adobe is hardly the first to have this problem.

I'm not ignorant. But I am talking about how this new model affects ME, just as you are talking about how it affects you. So easy to just jump on the lets-hate-on-america bandwagon, but that was unnecessary here.

The problem is that the argument from Adobe was total BS.

An electronically delivered product, coming from the same servers with the same language pack has no additional cost to be delivered to Australia - other than the 10% GST (tax) that Australia charges for goods sold to Australians.
10% does not = the 135% that some Adobe products were marked up originally. Incidentally the Australian $ has been approx 10% stronger than the US for several years now - so the actual sticker price "should" have been the same figure in both locations.

Adobe only reduced their prices after a ton of bad press when their CEO refused to answer a reporters question of WHY they charged so much more for an electronically delivered product - and they were ordered to appear before parliament.

Their miraculous price reduction was made in time to give parliament an answer along the lines of "we now have reviewed our pricing structure so leave us alone". It had nothing to do with the number of customers buying products in Australia.

Very true prices for CC in Europe are insane I wonder how one would go about bringing a European level lawsuit against Adobe for price gouging? It worked in Australia, I bet they would piss their pants if it happened in Europe

it´s not about the money!!!

but some are just too dumb, or whatever you wanna call it, to get that.
always the same stupid comment about the money.
it´s the whole idea of RENTING software, of not owning it.
of being FORCED to pay as long as you use it.
of not having a EXIT STRATEGY for project files.
of being hooked with adobes future pricing.
of not being able to skip a version or two when nothing interest you in this new version.
of having no leverage to say NO when you don´t want to buy a product.

your going into slavery with your eyes wide open.
so many people today can not think further then their nose.. it´s a shame.
i am suprised that so many naiv people are in the "art" business who don´t see or get that.

this is only the start.. and the numb sheeps will lead us all to the slaughterhouse of free will and CHOICE!!

Not sure if this point has been made but as a 20 year old college student, making minimum wage, but also having to pay insurance bills, gas, food, etc. combined with my love for photography...I'm living far beyond my means already so in response to your question "Is it though?" Yes it most definitely is.

You are personafying a corporation that does not work in the same set of moral guidelines as individuals do. A photographer asking for pay for their work to put food on the table (as you said, photographers aren't rich) is not comparable to a huge corporation hiring smart people to innovate and come up with things we think we can't live without, and then grabbing that product, setting their own prices and strict rules on using it. Why do we need to scream "present!" each time we want to use a service nowadays? You shouldn't have to register each time you want to listen to music, use a piece of software, or buy a damn book! The whole idea creeps me out, and I'm offended by the authors holier than thou attitude, and the moralising tone of the article. Each individual should decide for themselves as to what they consider right or wrong. We are not looking for moral queues from huge corporations. F Stoppers.... C'mon... I'm looking for lighting diagrams... Instead I'm getting stuff like this. Registering? renting? Not ever owning the software? Sorry but I buy my books and records, as I'll buy my software. I want the physical copy gathering dust somewhere under my couch because in case Adobe decides to file for bankruptcy or go into the shady side (as is the case here) in the future, I want to be able to throw up a middle finger, blow off the dust off my purchase and use the software I've paid for. No, I do not blindly trust Adobe, nor will I ever.

And before you question if I've bought Adobes software, the answer is yes, I have purchased CS6, would LOVE to get my hands on CC, but until I'm given an option to own it, I will have to see what other route I can go.

Let's not pretend that pirating is all bad for Adobe. It's because of pirating that their products have become standards. There I said it. When individuals start up or are students, they aren't going to be able to afford thousands of dollars in software, but if they pirate it, they'll use the software and learn with it so when they get jobs, they will insist that their companies buy and use Adobe.

If piracy ended today, do you think people would magically drop $700 on photoshop or their other products? No, they'll start using other products and soon Adobe will not be a real standard anymore.

Graham Marley's picture

Two false perceptions in this debate and article: There is a huge difference between not being able to afford 20 bucks a month and taking a philosophical issue with the termination of perpetual licensing (which, let's be honest, is owning a copy of the software to the extent of personal use. There is no practical difference whatsoever.) I spend more money on my Canon Pro Services fee per year than I would on PS CC, and I have no problem with that because it's a SERVICE and not a PRODUCT. Companies don't get to change the definition of those two words and just say "This is the future! Because WE SAY IT IS!" Consumers have a voice in that too, and I hope Adobe gets deeply wounded financially over this. Sincerely. This is a mistake that deserves a hard lesson in the name of consumer rights. I don't owe Adobe anything existentially.

"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?" Boycotting Adobe's new system and stealing from them are two totally separate concepts and shouldn't even be in the same argumentative paragraph. I'm not going to pirate, I think that's a scummy thing to do. However, Adobe isn't getting a dime from me until they offer something I can buy and not subscribe to. Just like Zach's work hasn't changed that much from the 5DII to the III, I can squeeze plenty of juice out of CS6 for years.

I don't agree with your cost argument -- it just doesn't apply for
all of us. I use a several-year-old high-end consumer camera for to make
images for myself that might sell as stock, and I occasionally have a
client. I have two relatively inexpensive prime lenses for that camera.
My family of four shares an internet connection and a streaming (less
expensive) Netflix account. We don't have cable. Our vacations are
nearby campgrounds to save money. Photography is my passion. My camera
and those two lenses are my most precious possessions. I cannot afford
current prices on Photoshop, so I get by with Lightroom (actually
affordable) and an older copy of photoshop that a family member was
lucky enough to win from Adobe many years ago. Elements is not an option
for me until

I'm really annoyed by your assumption, however,
that all photographers regularly spend lots of money on camera gear. I
would LOVE to have a newer better camera, but I can't afford it.

get the ethics argument, which is why I don't steal Photoshop, but I
have a hard time blaming people in my position for stealing it as Adobe
does not make it easy for us. Photoshop has a lot of options that are
created for designers and other users and most photographers will never
use. Photoshop Elements is missing a lot of the photographer's tools and
is primarily good for snapshotters and scrapbookers. I would like to
see Adobe come up with something in between, for the rest of us.

Would be nice if you could buy just the software though, would gladly wait longer for updates so i dont have to pay monthly.

Regan Shorter's picture

It's being brought up a lot in the comments that for a professional photographer, a $20/$50 expense each month isn't bad. I can agree with that. But what does this mean for students or others who AREN'T professional photographers with excess income to be devoted to CC each month? As a student, my parents could have easily bought me PS CS6 for a holiday and been done. I find this more likely than them paying $20 a month for me to use it.

Just a different perspective. Sadly we can't all be pros with our revenues put towards this! :(

Language like, "You constantly complain... You’re up in arms... You want to the art industry" is antagonistic and creates a divide between people. It pushes the reader in a position to say, "No, I don't Mr. Author. You don't know me! You can't see my point of view".

More effective sales language (the article wants to sell an ideal) uses words like "I believe" or "We should". "I believe" is non confrontational. "We should" is less so but it at least it is inclusive.

Excellent points made as I purchased the creative suite and this does appear to be a more affordable way and who can complain about getting updates as they're released. Sure people will complain about the price for me it's just something else to consider when updating my rates.

Peter Charlesworth's picture

It would have never been pirated to the extent it has (it now is practically part of the PS brand to envision piracy) if it were not for the stupid .com grade pricing they have never let go of. If PS were anything up to $500 for a full version, anyone that needed it professionally would have splashed on it. Its a no-brainier.

Here's a hot tip for the Adobe board.. sack your CEO, he is an idiot.

Hire me, and Ill change the face of your company for the better, and for good. There are millions waiting to pay for what they want on their terms... if you stay on this path of forcing your advocates (pirates or not) to pay for superfluous suites of apps, you will die by your decisions. Move it or lose it.

I made the decision years ago not to pirate software. Consequently I've been using GIMP and am quite happy with it.

All of you guys that say - renting Adobe's software is not such a bad thing - why do you PURCHASE cameras and lenses when you can very well RENT them ?

If there was a service that rented them long term with the same type of cost structure and allowed me to upgrade to the newest versions at no cost to me when they were released I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I do rent cameras and lenses when i need them. i cant justify a $4000 lens but can rent it for a job when i need it.