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Why people cancelling Adobe licence after new terms introduced?

Adobe faces backlash over updated terms granting broad rights to user-created content. Users express outrage, fearing exploitation for AI training. Trust in Adobe erodes as subscription model limits autonomy. Time for creators to demand protections

By Ground report
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Why people cancelling Adobe licence after new terms introduced?

Photo credit: Adobe/X

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Adobe, the software giant behind Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, is facing backlash from users over updated terms of service that grant the company broad rights to access and exploit their work.

The controversial clause states that users must provide Adobe with a "non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free sublicensable, license, to use, reproduce, publicly display, distribute, modify, create derivative works, perform, and translate the Content."

This legal jargon suggests Adobe can do whatever it wants with content created using its software applications and cloud services in plain language. It suggests that Adobe can incorporate pieces into its products and publish users' work commercially. There are few limits on the company's ability to derive or create new works from users' creations.

An X user posted, "I just cancelled my Adobe license after many years as a customer.' The new terms give Adobe 'worldwide royalty-free license to reproduce, display, distribute' or do whatever they want with any content I produce using their software. This is insane."

"No creator in their right mind can accept this," the user added. "You pay a huge monthly subscription and they want to own your content and your entire business."

Why Adobe's "Content Grab" Cause an Uproar?

Adobe says the new terms are meant to run its services and screen for illegal content, but critics say the language is too vague and open-ended.

The company claims it will only use these licenses "to operate or improve the Services and Software." However, many users fear their work could be exploited to train Adobe's new generative AI models like Photoshop's Creative Fill and Premiere Pro's AI video tools.

Last year, Adobe launched AI-powered "creative" features using large language models and machine learning technologies. The initial Firefly model was trained on licensed stock content, but some suspect user data could fine-tune future commercial AI offerings.

The timing of the terms update has sown widespread distrust and suspicion among users who feel their creative works are being used to feed Adobe's AI ambitions, combined with Adobe's lack of transparency around its AI initiatives.

One Reddit user wrote, 'This seems like a rights grab to use everyone's content to build training sets for Generative AI. Get ready for Photoshop to generate unique art from scratch using everyone's work."

The fact that Adobe's core apps like Photoshop are no longer available for an upfront, one-time purchase is adding fuel to the fire. Instead, users must pay an ongoing subscription fee, which some feel is being held hostage by Adobe's ever-evolving terms.

"The outrage stems from the fact that the company doesn't offer its apps like Photoshop as a one-time purchase," noted the BBC. "Instead, users have to pay for a monthly license, which keeps them beholden to Adobe and its regular updates."

Adobe claims it doesn't analyze locally stored content, but its subscription plans include 100GB of cloud storage. Any content uploaded or synced with Adobe's servers could be accessed or used under the new terms - a concern for creative professionals working on sensitive projects governed by non-disclosure agreements.

Adobe does offer an opt-out option for its content analysis systems, but as one critic pointed out: "Choosing not to have content analyzed doesn't make a difference since Adobe ignores preferences and accesses user content in 'certain limited circumstances.'"

User Trust

The fiasco represents a breaking of trust in a company that has billed itself as a platform for creative freedom and empowerment for many longtime Adobe customers.

One user recalling Adobe's earlier desktop software era wrote, 'You used to own Adobe products, with no rights to your stuff. You made the images, you owned them. What a disappointment they've abandoned that for their subscription approach.'"

Adobe has pushed AI as a creative tool to speed up workflows and enhance human ingenuity, but some see it as a pretext for amassing large datasets to boost the company's AI capabilities and bottom line.

Adobe said in a statement that it "will never assume ownership of a customer's work" and won't train its AI on user content. However, this assurance did little to address concerns about the terms' broad language.

"I doubt they'd train AI directly on users' work," wrote one commenter. "They'd probably just scrape data about their users' workflows and use that metadata to enrich their AI tools."

Time for Creators to Fight Back?

As backlash mounts, some want regulations to restrict how tech giants like Adobe use user data for AI and machine learning, especially for systems trained on creative works.

"In the age of generative AI, we need stronger protections around intellectual property and user content," stated Matthew Butterick, a designer, lawyer and activist who criticized AI companies' approach to ingesting copyrighted data. "Adobe is no different than Anthropic or OpenAI – it dares to pressure its own paying customers."

Some argue Adobe's subscription model has gone too far, eroding the autonomy that once made the company's tools empowering for creative professionals.

"The trade used to be: 'Pay this large upfront fee in exchange for total creative freedom,'" wrote one user. "That trade is now broken. They want a monthly fee and your creative freedoms."

As users explore new creative software from startups and open-source projects, Adobe may learn there are limits to pushing user rights in the AI era. This crisis is a crucial moment for regaining user trust for a company built on enabling human creativity.

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