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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Art Licensing: Is Adobe holding Artists Hostage with Creative Cloud?

Last May there were many irate Adobe software users when Adobe announced that they will no longer upgrade their boxed version (software owned by the purchaser) of Creative Suite (CS) software. Upgrades will only be available via their subscription based Creative Cloud (CC) membership. Adobe plans to continue selling CS6 software that can be downloaded from their website but it is already out-of-date because CC updated versions of Photoshop and Illustrator have already been released on CC. For more information about the controversy, read:

• "Adobe's Creative Cloud Move Causes Outcry And Confusion"
• "Adobe's Creative Cloud Sparks Thunderous Revolt"
• "Dislike Adobe's Creative Cloud subscriptions? Tough beans"

Because Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are considered the standard software used in the art licensing industry, this has a HUGE impact on artists that license their art. The yearly cost of the subscription membership is much greater than periodically upgrading existing software applications. Artists that use the software to only manipulate scanned images of their work in Photoshop can get along fine with older versions. The problem will be later when computer operating systems are updated and possibly no longer recognize the old CS6 version.

But, artists that create art digitally have a decision to make because they depend on robust software. Should they use CS6 applications and no longer get updates that could enhance their art and speed up their work flow OR pay the subscription fee for CC membership? Below are some facts to help them make that decision.

Note: If you plan to subscribe to CC and already own CS software you need to decide soon because Adobe has a reduced first year membership price that ends shortly.

What is Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) is a subscription membership plan to use Adobe's creative software. It may be paid month-to-month or individuals can commit to a yearly membership at a savings. There are several levels and different pricing structures available. See the below section on "Creative Cloud United States Membership Price".

CC Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions on how a person uses the software after subscribing to CC. Below are a few but read "5 Myths About Adobe Creative Cloud" to learn more about CC. Also listen to the podcast with Adobe Senior Product Marketing Manager Terry Hemphill and children’s market illustrators Norman Grock and Wilson Williams, Jr. on "Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 5 – Conversation with Adobe about Creative Cloud".

• Myth 1 - Operating the applications (Photoshop, Illustrator etc) is done on the internet and you must be connected to the internet to create files.
Truth: Cloud is really a misnomer because applications are downloaded onto a computer from CC and the computer does not have to be connected to the internet for the individual to create images.

• Myth 2 - File must be stored on the internet.
Truth: Files do not need to be stored on CC. It is an option.

• Myth 3 - You cannot access your files once you leave Creative Cloud.
Truth: Files belong to the individual BUT the individual will not have access to CC applications and cannot edit the files with CC if she/he quits their CC membership. However, files can be edited in owned Creative Suite (CS) applications IF they were saved in a compatible format with the caveat that any CC tools and functions not available in CS will not be useable.

CC Membership Pros
• You do not need to be connected to the internet to use the applications because they are downloaded from the CC website.
• You can use all CC applications if you subscribe to the annual membership plan. The membership subscription plan could be cost efficient if you use many Adobe applications.
• You can use all edge tools and services for web designers and developers.
• You can use all online services for file sharing, collaborating, publishing apps and websites.
• You can store 20GB of files (for most plans) that can be shared with clients and colleagues.
• There is no waiting for software updates.

CC Membership Cons
• You must pay subscription membership fees to use software.
• There is no guarantee that the membership fee will not be raised substantially after the first year.
• You do not own the software so if you stop subscribing to CC you will no longer be able to edit the files unless they were saved in a compatible format for CS versions. Note: A possible problem could be in converting CC files to JPEG formats if you are no longer a CC member. In other words, if the file is saved in a Photoshop CC format can it be converted to another format such as JPEG if you no long have access to Photoshop CC?
• Any images using new features and tools in applications that are updated in CC will require the user to continue using CC so that they can edit the images. That means an individual is forced to continue using CC regardless of membership price.
• You must confirm membership via internet every 30 days for month-to-month membership and every 99 days for annual membership. If you do not confirm, the CC applications on your computer stops working.
• If you need to use the software on more than two computers, you need to subscribe to additional memberships (same policy as for CS applications). The same applications can be put on two Macs, two PCs, or one of each.
• You must purchase separately all Adobe Touch Apps (Photoshop Touch, Kuler for iPhone, Ideas, Behance for iPhone, Creative Portfolio for iPhone).

Creative Cloud United States Membership Price
Annual membership for US individuals are billed monthly for most popular desktop applications. Click here to see what applications is included. Note: The price is locked-in for an annual membership. The member is obligated to paying 50% of the remaining annual fee if she/he decides to quit the subscription before it ends. The price of the subscription for a month-to-month member is not locked in.

To find out if CC is available in other countries, look under Purchasing and availability section in "Adobe Creative Cloud / FAQ".

Annual fees
• new CC member (do not own CS applications); $49.99/mo
• CS upgrade (CS3 - CS5.5 customers) ends 7/31/13; $29.99/mo
• CS upgrade (CS6 customers) ends 8/31/13; $19.99/mo
• Students & teachers (requires institutional affiliation); $29.99/mo
• Single application for non CS customer (limited access to services); $19.99/mo
• Single application for CS3-C6 customers (limited access to services); $9.99/mo

Month-to-month fees
• Single application for non CS customer; $29.99/mo
• Other month-to-month plans are available but you need to contact Adobe to find out the price.

Free 30-day trial membership for all apps (limited access to services)

Click here for more information about membership plans.

What is the Alternative?
If you do not want to be held hostage to Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription plan, you only have the two choices. Continue using Adobe CS6 or older versions of Adobe software OR start using software from other companies. Alternative software may not have all the bells and whistles but they will do the job. On top of that many are free and most are much less expensive than Adobe. Below is a list of articles that discuss alternative software.

• "How to build your own Adobe Creative Suite with cheaper Mac app alternatives"

• "What are good alternatives to adobe software"

• "10 Photoshop Alternatives That Are Totally Free - Gizmodo"

• "10+ Best Free or Open Source Photoshop Alternative Software"

• "Is there an alternative to Illustrator? Here's 5 . . ."

• "10 Best Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator"

If you object to Adobe holding artists hostage and you want to voice your opinion, sign a petition on for "Adobe Systems Incorporated: Eliminate the mandatory "creative cloud" subscription model." ( ) Over 36,000 people have sign it. They need 13,000 more signatures!  Thanks Debra Valencia for sharing this link.

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.