Adobe Wants $15 A Month To Use Some Colors

John Lister's picture

Adobe is charging an additional monthly fee to use particular colors in Photoshop. Some users have even seen parts of existing images turn black.

The seemingly bizarre policy is all to do with Adobe's commercial agreement with Pantone, a company that offers services helping businesses create a consistent color scheme, such as branding.

Historically, Adobe included more than 2,000 specific colors that are part of Pantone's "Color Matching Scheme". The idea of the scheme is to use a common reference that means any two uses of the color will look the same, no matter the origin or production method. The company asserts intellectual property rights over the specific colors.

Plug-In Required

Adobe announced last year it would remove the Pantone libraries from Photoshop but would offer a replacement solution. That turns out to be a plug-in called Pantone Connect that costs $14.99 a month or $89.99 a year. Some users report seeing a price of $21 a month, but this isn't replicated on Adobe's own site. (Source:

An even bigger surprise is that the licensing requirements appear to work retroactively. Some users have reported opening old Photoshop files that used a Pantone-matched color only to find that section of the image is now black.

The image is accompanied by a message reading "This file has Pantone colors that have been removed and replaced with black due to changes in Pantone's licensing with Adobe." (Source:

Hard To Reproduce

It is possible to closely replicate the specific shades of Pantone colors using other Photoshop color tools. These include using particular combinations of red, green and blue, particular combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, or one of 16 million hex codes that represent a specific color made up of red, green and blue.

The problem is that these aren't exact matches. That's because these methods all combine colors in the same way that computer monitors or printing combine pixel lights or inks respectively. A true Pantone color print uses a single ink, a little like buying a particular shade of paint.

What's Your Opinion?

Should a company be able to claim the right to a color? Is it right for Adobe to charge to use Pantone colors? Should the new rule affect files users created in the past?

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Average: 5 (6 votes)


Dov Isaacs's picture

Adobe is NOT charging anything for access to Pantone color definitions at all! It is Pantone (a division of X-Rite which is fully owned by Danaher) that Adobe application users are paying to license the plug-in that provides access to the Pantone color definitions. Adobe doesn't see one cent of those plug-in license fees.

It was Pantone that wanted to change the business model, establish a “direct relationship” with the users of its color definitions, and further significantly “monetize” their color definition assets.

Perhaps users of the Adobe creative applications would have preferred that Adobe “bundle” this cloud-based plug-in to its applications and raise the price by $90 per year (plus perhaps some margin for managing this) per workstation for yearly subscriptions (and much more for month-to-month licensees?) I really don't think so.

buzzallnight's picture

So, how long have you worked for adobe?

Dov Isaacs's picture

I worked as a Principal Scientist at Adobe for over 31 years until the end of May 2021. I have worked in the software industry for a total of 54 years. I continue to participate in ISO PDF and print standards development independently.

buzzallnight's picture

ya, it was obvious ....

leedit's picture

This is the most outrageous kind of Robber Baron technology. Wasn't Adobe also claiming that any of your photos edited with Photoshop belongs to them. Enough of TechnoBullys stealing our creative rights. It's not Sear's property if I build my house with one of their tools. We should not have to take back rights that are intrinsic in our society.

jbuck011's picture

next, they'll claim rights over the Mona Lisa cause there's colors matching certain Pantone matches.

Dov Isaacs's picture

The statement by @leedit that Adobe is “also claiming that any of your photos edited with Photoshop belongs to them” is totally untrue! Adobe never made any such claim. It is amazing how such nonsense gets propagated these days.

What was true was that at one point many years back, Adobe did in fact assert that if you stored photos on an Adobe server, you provided permission for Adobe to be able to move the files between disks and servers to meet the operational needs of the service. But Adobe NEVER asserted any rights beyond that or of any ownership of those digital assets.

buzzallnight's picture


problem solved

you are welcome!

Dov Isaacs's picture

No, the “problem” is NOT solved.

If no one payed for software, software wouldn't be written or it would be “bundled” into the cost of all that hardware you buy.

Do you advocate not paying for any hardware at all?

How about you giving away your time and effort for whatever work you do for no compensation?

buzzallnight's picture

and in my opinion Adobe is way over priced.

buzzallnight's picture

all loaded with widows and office and a few other programs for $60.00.

Don't buy new computers either.

problem solved

you are welcome!