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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Previous comments

a little bit offended;)

Here is my issue with Creative Cloud. I am absolutely not interested in non Photoshop programs. I love Photoshop. I've been really happy making a decision on when to buy upgrades and how much to pay. In the last ten years that is usually under $200 every 2 or 3 years. Now, with CC, I don't get to make a decision to extend my upgrade purchase & amortize it over longer periods. Adobe also gets me hooked into their CC system and CAN RAISE THE PRICE whenever and however they wish. Granted they did not do that previously with boxed SW. However, now they will have leverage and lots of it. You're in the system or you are out of it. No middle ground. My decision making has essentially been taken away. And that is the crux of the problem. They have pissed me off and ruined our business relationship.
As a business expense the $20 s a non issue. It's a pittance. However, I FEEL they will keep raising that monthly fee until I squeal incessantly. There is no market pressure to keep that from happening. I choose to not wait for that to happen. I will seek alternatives so I FEEL better about the business relationship with my SW supplier. Adobe does not get that part of the equation.

SLOW internet connection with no way to get it faster in our rural area is a good reason NOT to use the new cloud based product. I don't steal Photoshop but I won't be buying the new version.
Add in, my works computer does NOT go online. Not ever. Anything I need to go online gets on a thumb drive and then on this computer after being scanned and found virus free.
Add in that I pay by check or money order, not credit card and you have another good reason to stay away from the new Adobe plans

Ben .'s picture

In Australia the base version of CS6 cost $950 with extended being $1300
THAT is why pirated copies exist.

Your point about purchasing a MKIII is mute. Would you feel the same way if Canon said no we only want to rent you that camera at "$X" a year and you need to keep paying us if you wish to continue to use it and receive updates for it?

If I was making money every time my shutter opened, sure. I probably wouldnt have a problem with this as it's all tax deductable at that point as business expenses. Fact is though, like most photographers, I don't so it's not a viable option.

It's not going to stop me using CS6 etc and I'm not at the point where I NEED cloud. Sure, it's nice and new and shiny and who doesn't like new things. I'm sure there will be a time in a few years where it's not worth using older versions anymore but hey, I still know so called "pro" shooters who only use CS3 so go figure.

Point is, I don't really like the idea of it but I'm sure that if it were something I saw the value in and used that after a while the change won't be so scary. Until then pirated copies of older versions will far outweigh paid subscriptions to the CC.

Great. Now, tell us why you should be offended by pirating articles just by changing some text.

Hurry up and download before Lee Morris finds out!!!
Power to the People!!!

Adobe InDesign CC v.9.0 Multilingual MacOsX

Adobe Illustrator CC v.17.0.0 Multilingual MacOSX

Adobe Premiere Pro CC v.7.0 Multilingual MacOSX

Adobe After Effects CC 12.0 LS20 Mac-OSX Multilingual

Adobe Photoshop CC v14.0 Final Multilanguage

First of all, the new cloud Photoshop was hacked in 24 hours after release. Second this was never the intent of subscription. It was to keep the money rolling into Adobe. You don't NEED every version of photoshop. In fact, you only need maybe 1 every 5th release. You also don't need a 5dmkiii either, not if you had an mkii. Stupid comparison because both are based on the false premise you have to upgrade every year / every new release. If new tech has that much of an effect on your photography, you're not a very good photographer. How long will it be until PS can properly handle 32bit images? Been waiting well over 5 years.Not paying one more cent until they make a real progression forward.

As for pirating, young people and college kids aren't / can't pay for software. Period. They are going to learn on which ever platform is most accessible. When they become employed they will prefer to use the software they are comfortable with. There are alternatives to PS that do almost as much as PS, so these will become more popular which will support new development. Adobe may find itself outside looking in.

I say instead, why shoudn't you be offended by the wide spread use of a commercial product such as Photoshop?
Do you actually use those few features that isn't available in for example GIMP, or are you just beeing lazy, refusing to learn something else, simply following the flow?
Only the (mentally) dead fish go with the flow.
If you need thee features bad enough to make money of it, then buy the product.

I wish there were more options.

As a full time photographer/designer I understand paying $20 a month is not a big deal. If you use it every day then $20 is a great price. For somebody that uses Photoshop 1 or 2 days a month and might not even make money out of it, $20 is actually rather a lot. I with there were other options like $1 a day. or even $2 a day. If you use it ever day it'll be way more expensive than the month subscription, but if you really only need it a few days then it would be a better option and I think it would discourage piracy.

Same goes with all the other applications. Sometimes you just need to open an illustrator file and take a look or do a simple vector drawing. It would not warrant paying $600 for the application or even $20 a month for it.

Of course this does not mean you should pirate it. All I'm saying is that I wish Adobe would provide other options for non-professional people that would like to use their applications very sporadically.

My 2c

The cloud is not a bad thing,it works for some people,the reason so many people are angry with Adobe is because they have killed the option to buy your suite,which clearly suits many people better than the cloud...

Fascinating the vitriol this topic brings up. I pirated Adobe products for years and hated myself for it but as a struggling photographer & retoucher in NYC it seemed like a necessary evil-I never had the bulk of cash to pony up all at once in my monthly budget (nearly $1000). As many photographers know there are plenty of unscrupulous clients who will jerk you around paying months late, even sometimes never at all; it's an expensive city to live and work in, blah blah, excuse excuse. As soon as I heard of the CC option this year I jumped on it and am happy to pay my $20/mo for the latest PS + Bridge since they are how I make my living. I personally don't see why owning a physical copy of the software is better then the Cloud system--you realize you don't actually own it, right? You are still licensing said software--like an mp3 vs. cd. I'm sure there are valid reasons, I just don't see them. As far as people complaining about the cost, or their rights to pirate: of course Adobe charges $$$--what do you think they are a bloody charity?! It's a for-profit corporation. At least just own up that you are stealing a tool that you clearly value (otherwise you wouldn't be stealing it) and stop trying to defend yourself. Even when I was doing it I had the brains to know it was wrong!

Honestly I think pirating has worked out in Photoshops favour. So many people pirated it in highschool and college that when they entered the job market the PS skillset was so saturated that workplaces had no choice but to buy it. Companies that use this tool for profit should never pirate it, but I have no hate towards any young student trying to save hundreds of dollars. If they really wanted every joe to buy it they would price it for consumers.

Zach- One question: if you don't give Canon another $3k will they come and take your MkIII from you or brick it through firmware?

Therein lies many people's issue with CC. Keep paying to use the software you've purchased.
Netflix, Cable, Spotify? Those are services you pay a monthly subscription to. Adobe's software is not a service, it's a product. Which is why even if you can come up with the math that makes CC the same cost to the long time users (purchasers) of CS it's still not as good of a value because if we don't pay for a month our "purchased" software is now useless.
I can understand renting a product and that may work well for some. But for many, many others it does not. I'm not advocating piracy of the software. And I'm not asking to drop CC but allow either the continuation of perpetual licenses or use a model that allows the software to work without upgrades if you do not wish to continue to pay a monthly fee.

Sorry, not meaning to nit pick, actually i am, all your examples are products,

Nitpick away.
So what's the product for Netflix, or Spotify or your cable service?

You may need photoshop, but if you used to work with photoshop cs5, for example, then you ugraded to photoshop cs6, what have changed? For the majority of the users absolutely nothing, you'll work the same way, and yet you just spent quite some money in a new license, not everyone buys the new version as soon as it is released, some people skips one or two versions, and that makes them save some money, but with this stupid creative cloud you can't do that anymore.
This is just a trick to suck more money from the users.

You must have a lot of money. What if you're a student who barley can collect $800 per month to pay for life expenses and rent. It should be free for him or at least %90 because he needs it but can't afford it