Adobe Users Shocked By Legal Warning

John Lister's picture

Adobe has warned users they could be in legal trouble if they carry on using older editions of software. But it seems to be more of a 'legal' technicality than a crackdown.

The company wrote to some users of its Creative Cloud applications. That's a series of software and services launched in 2011 that replaced the more traditional model of buying Adobe software outright. Instead users now pay a subscription fee and can use the software (and receive updates to the latest editions) for as long as the subscription is active.

Adobe recently wrote to some customers with the letter including the line "We have recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications and as a result, under the terms of our agreement you are no longer licensed to use them."

Third Parties 'Could Sue'

It went on to note that "should you continue to use the discontinued version(s) you may be at risk of potential claims of infringement by third parties." (Source:

The letter initially sparked confusion and anger among users (and people who heard the story recounted) who believed they were being prevented from using software they had paid for. Some appeared to think they were no longer allowed to use old editions of Adobe software that they'd bought outright.

In fact, it appears the Creative Cloud subscription licensing only covers the latest edition of each app - it's just that this has never been an issue before as there was no obvious reason Adobe would have a problem with people not upgrading, other than not offering support.

Dolby Laboratories Deal Behind Move

The reference to third parties may explain what's behind the move. Some Adobe software licenses contain technology from Dolby Laboratories, which is sound technology often used in movies. Last year Dolby sued Apple for not accurately reporting how many customers use the relevant software, which had an impact on royalty payments. (Source:

While Adobe still disputes some part of the case, it may be trying to avoid paying royalties where its customers are using an "unlicensed" edition.

Whether third parties such as Dolby really could sue individual users for using such software is dubious at best, and it would certainly not look good on the company for doing so.

What's Your Opinion?

Does this development show subscription software is a flawed model? Should subscribers have the right to use older editions of licensed software? Do you believe Dolby really would sue individual users?

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