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Adobe Creative Cloud: Lopsided Legal Agreement

See Adobe Clouds Software Choice (Adobe Creative Cloud Only Going Forward).

OK, so you raise your risk of identity theft as per Adobe’s date of birth requirement Well, lying about the date is the best approach except that it is a violation of the license agreement section 7.1 to do so (“account info will always be complete and accurate”). Hence Adobe can terminate your service if you lie about your date of birth (see section 6.5c on non-refundable fees).

So let’s look at the nasty thing that is the Adobe Cloud license agreement, something that even an experienced attorney would need no small amount of time to ponder.

Terms of use

All you have to do is read a good size pamphlet of carefully crafted self-referential legalise, and another 500 pages or whatever that is incorporated by reference.

Isn’t there room for for a “no bullshit legalese that no one can possibly read without 20 hours of attorney time” federal law pending in Congress?

Adobe Creative license: huge and incorporates huger
Adobe Creative license: huge and incorporates huger

So I actually took the time to read the whole license agreement (nasty stuff). I apparently took too long— it’s pretty clear that they don’t actually expect you to read the stuff, hence the login times out:

Read the Adobe terms, the login times-out!
Read the Adobe terms, the login times-out!

Stealing your name or trademark?

Apparently, my trademarked DIGLLOYD™ or MacPerformanceGuide™ may be stolen (given to another party) by Adobe for any reason at all (“any reason” and “sole discretion”).

Well probably they could not in fact do this legally, but nothing in the agreement recognizes the potential conflict (needs something like: “we agree not to allow others to use your trademark once advised of it”).

7.2 As part of registering for a Service, Adobe may require you to create a unique URL, such as your_name_here.adobe.com. Such unique URL may be used solely with the Service, only for so long as you maintain a valid account and shall not be used for any other purpose. Adobe may revoke your right to use that URL for any reason deemed appropriate by Adobe in its sole discretion by giving you at least thirty days prior notice of such revocation, except in the event that your URL, or content therein, is determined by Adobe in its sole discretion to contain infringing or illegal content or content that otherwise violates the Terms.

In such event, Adobe reserves the right to revoke your right to use your unique URL immediately without notice. Additionally, Adobe owns and retains all right, title, and interest in and to the use of “Adobe,” and other Adobe property in association with a User’s unique URL. Upon termination for any reason, Adobe may permit another User to use the unique URL previously selected by you.

We (Adobe) can make changes to terms at our whim

So you can't install regular versions (non-cloud), and if you want Creative Cloud, you can never, ever object to any terms because your alternative is complete loss of service. And Adobe can change the terms any time they feel like it.

3.3 Adobe may require you to provide consent to the updated Terms before further use of the Services is permitted. Otherwise, your continual use of any Service constitutes your acceptance of the changes.

Service down for a week? Gee, sorry.

No mention of refunds or credits. What if it’s down for a week? That week might be critical for a business. No SLA (service level agreement) is even mentioned.

6.4 Adobe uses reasonable efforts to make the Services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, there will be occasions when the Service will be interrupted for maintenance, upgrades and repairs, or as a result of failure of telecommunications links and equipment that are beyond our control. Adobe will take reasonable steps to minimize such disruption, to the extent it is within our reasonable control. Certain Services may not be available in all languages.

Huge investment? So what?

So you build your business on it. A few years later, Adobe decides they don’t feel like it any more. Tough crap.

6.5 Adobe may modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Services or Materials, or any portion thereof, with or without notice. You agree that Adobe shall not be liable to you or anyone else if we do so.

Subscription fees

Translation: prices can be raised with no notice, no refunds (even if service is an abject failure), and debt collectors can hound you, even if you have a legitimate beef over the service.

6.5 (a) Subscription Fees. Certain Services require you to purchase a subscription or membership in order to access all or part of such Services. Subscription Fees are non-refundable, except as otherwise stated in specific subscription terms applicable to a Service. Subscription Fees may change at the end of your subscription period. Subscription terms are available at http://www.adobe.com/go/subscription_terms.

(c) Collection of Subscription Fee. You agree that, in the event Adobe is unable to collect the Subscription Fees owed by you to Adobe for the Services, Adobe may take the steps it deems necessary to collect such Subscription Fees from you and that you will be responsible for all costs and expenses incurred by Adobe in connection with such collection activity.

Arbitrary demands for arbitrary information at any time

Like date of birth. How about social security number, credit cards, home address, etc? Where does it say what “Account Information” might be demanded? And what might Adobe require with the sledgehammer of denying service if not supplied?

With regular installed software you know what you’re getting when you install. With the Cloud, you agree to any future clusterfuck scenario, as the sole discretion of Adobe, with no recourse. And let’s get real: abandoning years of investment in a service is not an alternative except in the most objectionable circumstances.

7.1 You agree that your Account Information will always be complete, accurate, and up-to-date. It is your responsibility to keep your account password or log-in credentials confidential at all times and you are solely responsible to Adobe for all activity that occurs via your Account. If you become aware of any unauthorized use of your account or Account Information, or any other breach of security, you agree to notify Adobe by contacting Support at http://www.adobe.com/go/support_contact.

Adobe may require that you change your Account Information or certain parts of your Account Information at any time for any reason. Unless Adobe expressly allows you the right to create and manage Adobe IDs as an account administrator for a company or unless expressly permitted in the Additional Terms, you may not use another person’s Account Information.

Otherwise objectionable

Section 8.2 makes it possible for Adobe to terminate service for any reason at all, in Adobe’s sole judgment. Such terms are open-ended invitations to abuse.

8.2 You agree not to use, or to encourage or permit others to use, the Services to:

8.2 You agree not to use, or to encourage or permit others to use, the Services to:

(a) Make Available any Material that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, tortious, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, obscene, child-pornographic, lewd, profane, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable;

And “no reason”

Talk about one-sided. You have no rights whatsoever. Adobe can shut off your account and shut you out, and you’ll have no way to open those 18,000 files you created over 10 years.

No abitration, just whatever Adobe cares to do.

15.1 Adobe, in its sole discretion, may (but has no obligation to) monitor or review the Services and Materials at any time. Without limiting the foregoing, Adobe shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to remove any of Your Content for any reason (or no reason), including if it violates the Terms or any Law.

19.3 Termination or Suspension of Services. Adobe may also terminate or suspend all or a portion of your account and/or access to the Services for any reason (subject to Additional Terms for certain Services). Except as may be set forth in any Additional Terms applicable to a particular Service, termination of your account may include: (a) removal of access to all offerings within the Services; (b) deletion of Your Content and Account Information, including your personal information, log-in ID and password, and all related information, files, and Materials associated with or inside your account (or any part thereof); and (c) barring of further use of the Services.

19.4 You agree that all terminations for cause shall be made in Adobe’s sole discretion and that Adobe shall not be liable to you or any third party for any termination of your account (and accompanying deletion of your Account Information), or access to the Services and Materials, including Your Content.

You object? Just fly to Santa Clara, and do so on Adobe’s terms:

23.1 Venue. You agree that any claim or dispute you may have against Adobe must be resolved by a court located in Santa Clara County, California, United States of America except as otherwise agreed by the parties. You agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts located in Santa Clara County, California, United States of America when the laws of California apply, and the courts of Dublin, Ireland, when the laws of Ireland applies, for the purpose of litigating such claims or disputes. The parties specifically disclaim the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

23.2 All claims you bring against Adobe must be resolved in accordance with this section. All claims filed or brought contrary to this section shall be considered improperly filed. Should you file a claim contrary to this section, Adobe may recover attorneys’ fees and costs up to U.S. $1,000, provided that Adobe has notified you in writing of the improperly filed claim and you have failed to properly withdraw the claim.

No choice and NO NOTICE on software updates

Not good. What if the Adobe service is hacked, thus compromising all customers with a forced update? It’s just one example of many ugly scenarios.

11.4 The Software may automatically download and install updates from Adobe. These updates are designed to improve, enhance and further develop the Services and may take the form of bug fixes, enhanced functions, new Software modules, and completely new versions. You agree to receive such updates (and permit Adobe to deliver these to you with or without your knowledge) as part of your use of the Services.

Your content used for Adobe advertising

What if I don’t like what is being advertised?

What if I object to Adobe making money off my content?

17. Advertising and Your Content.

You agree that Adobe may display advertisements adjacent to Your Content, and you agree that you are not entitled to any compensation.

The manner, mode, and extent of advertising or other revenue generating models pursued by Adobe on or in conjunction with the Services and/or Your Content are subject to change without specific notice to you.

And more

Read it yourself.

It is so far away from a traditional software model and raises so many new issues that I feel very uncomfortable with it.

It is a lopsided license agreement that makes no concessions to any privacy, predictability, fairness issues for the customer. It shows an unmitigated contempt for customers as small-fry (“plenty more out there and we have 'em by the balls anyway”) to which no concessions need be made, with a very big hammer to get rid of unpleasant ones if need be: lock-in and lock-out facilities.


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