Software corporations Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel filed to sue the apparel retail company Forever 21 for software piracy. In the filed complaint document, the software corporations claim that Forever 21 has, "(a) copied and reproduced certain of the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products; and (b) circumvented technological measures that effectively control access to the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products (collectively, the 'Access Control Technology').” Forever 21 also allegedly continued to use the software even after being contacted by Adobe. The software corporations are suing for damages due to the piracy of the software, profits derived by Forever 21's alleged use of the software, and other damages.
Forever 21 is an American retail giant, with reported sales in 2013 of $3.7 billion. They ranked as the 122nd largest private company in America by Forbes, yet apparently the corporation has a history of copyright controversies. According to a Jezebel article, Forever 21 had been sued more than 50 times for stealing clothing designs by 2011, but has never lost a case in court. According to the article, the corporation once settled out of court on the eve of a retrial after a hung jury on the first trial. While there is a chance that Forever 21 will settle with Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel, we will have to wait to find out if this is the route they take.
In the context of Adobe’s push for Creative Cloud subscription-based licensing of its software, this move could be the next step in Adobe’s fight against piracy. Problems with piracy have plagued Adobe for years, and they have explored various approaches to combating piracy. The push to subscription-based software is seen by some as an attempt to convert software pirates into potential customers by spreading out the cost of their products over time. It seems waging legal wars on consumers has far too much potential to alienate the consumers, and could have a negative effect on business. However, the majority of piracy offenders are likely broke college students, not multi-billion-dollar corporations. While we are currently unsure of how Adobe became aware of the alleged piracy, it is possible that an employee of Forever 21 might have implicated their company. Adobe encourages reporting of acts of piracy through an online report form.