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Further Thoughts on Photoshop CS Activation

As you have probably heard by now, Adobe has instituted a system requiring users to activate their copy of Photoshop CS and the other Creative Suite products, much as Microsoft and other vendors have begun doing of late to help combat software piracy.

This activation topic fascinates me, or rather some people's reactions to it do. For many, this is either a good thing if it will help keep software prices down, or at least a neutral thing as long as it doesn't get in their way of using the product. Some people, however, are quite vocal in their opposition to software activation. I understand there may be resentment over a perceived insinuation that Adobe now thinks everyone is going to pirate their software. What the activation model comes down to though is that we are paying for something (in this case for a license to the software in question) and are then later asked to verify that we did so (when we install and activate the software). This is not really that unique in modern life. Consider for instance:

If you buy a ticket to a movie or concert, they still insist you surrender that ticket at the door when you go inside. If someone else has already used your ticket, it will be torn in half and they won't let you in. If you lose your ticket, they likewise won't let you in, at least not without some lengthy discussion if even then.

If you buy a product that has a mail in rebate, you have to mail in a copy of the receipt that proves you did indeed buy that product or they won't give you the rebate. No one would expect them to honor a rebate that you can't prove you deserve by having legally bought the product in the first place.

If you join a health club or other membership club, they still won't let you in to use their equipment without showing your membership card at the door on every visit. After having paid your dues, shouldn't they just trust you? Why do they insist that you prove you've paid each time you want to go their?

As a member of the AAA auto club, I pay an annual fee for roadside emergency services among other things. A great deal for those who travel a lot, but if I need to use their services, I still have to prove I've paid by showing them my membership card. This seems normal to me since otherwise people could just use their services without the company having any way to know that they have legally paid.

If you buy a bus or train pass on a monthly or other basis as part of your commute, they still won't let you on board without showing that pass. I have never seen anyone very upset by this procedure yet they clearly don't trust their riders since they require them to prove they have paid rather than just trusting them.

These are all examples of similar paradigms I though of without even trying that much. I'm sure there are plenty others that go so unnoticed in our daily lives that they escaped my thinking of them when typing this. All of these require that you pay for something and then must later prove that you did so rather than have them trust that you are using their goods or services legally.

Yes, software licensing has traditionally not done this. They have tried other even worse things in the past though. Anyone ever owned software that required you sacrifice a printer or serial port for dongle that later caused conflicts with other applications? Now that was bad. Perhaps it's due to memories of this sort of thing that some people have such strong feelings about current "activation" methods such as the ones used by Adobe and Microsoft (and others). I don't know.

I've now installed the CS suite on my desktop and laptop as the license agreement allows me to. Activation on both was completely painless. It is such an integral part of installing the software in fact that if you have an internet connection you might not even notice that it happens. Simply clicking "next" though the install screens also takes you through the activation process without filling in any extra information or any other hassles whatsoever. Now if my laptop dies tomorrow and I need to reinstall, it remains to be seen what happens, but such would also be the case if I lost I movie ticket and then tried to get into the theater. According to Adobe, the ability to deal with such situations is actually built into the activation system, allowing copies to be reinstalled periodically without any more effort than the original install. Worst case is, it can always be installed for up to 30 days without activation.

Personally, I'll at least wait until Adobe's new activation scheme actually inconveniences me to complain — until that happens though, it's a total non-issue.

Just some thoughts....

Date posted: November 16, 2003


Copyright © 2003 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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