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Adobe Eases Photoshop Express Terms of Use

A few minutes ago, a publicist for Adobe, Anne Yeh, e-mailed me to say that the company has revised the terms of service for Photoshop Express, the subject of this week's column. Instead of the open-ended claims on users' content that the old agreement made, the new legalese is much more specific about what rights Adobe claims and why it requests them:

Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, we do need certain rights from you, with respect to Your Content, in order to operate the Service and in order to enable you to do all the things this Service affords you the ability to do. Therefore, with respect to Your Content, you grant Adobe a worldwide (because the internet is global), royalty-free (meaning we do not owe you any money), nonexclusive (meaning you are free to license Your Content to others) fully sublicensable (so that we can permit our affiliates, subcontractors and agents to deliver the Service on our behalf) license to use, reproduce and modify Your Content solely for the purposes of operating the Service and enabling your use of the Service. With respect to Your Shared Content, you additionally grant Adobe the rights to distribute, publicly perform and publicly display Your Shared Content (in whole or in part) for the sole purposes of operating the Service and enabling your use of the Service and to sublicense Your Shared Content to Other Users subject to the limitations of Section 7 below. These limited licenses do not grant Adobe the right to sell or otherwise license Your Content or Your Shared Content on a stand alone basis. Further, you may terminate Adobe's right to distribute, publicly perform and publicly display Your Shared Content by making it no longer shared. You may terminate the remainder of Adobe's rights by removing Your Content from the Service.

Yeh's e-mail included a shorter version of that paragraph:

Adobe has retained only those limited rights that allow us to operate the service and to enable you to do all the things the service offers. If you decide to terminate your Photoshop Express account, Adobe's rights also will be terminated. Adobe doesn't claim ownership of your content and won't sell your images.

I like that phrasing even better! But maybe that's just the editor in me talking.

This may be an awkward question, but please be honest: Do you normally read these user agreements to check for the kind of excessive claims Adobe made the first time around?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 4, 2008; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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I don't use many programs. If it's a huge one that everyone uses (99% of what I use), I rely on the media to point out any problems. Otherwise, I read them.

Posted by: Q | April 4, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I've never read a EULA. Thanks for looking out for us.

Posted by: slar | April 4, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't read them. The type's too small. And the language is usually a masterpiece of obfuscation.

Posted by: Judith | April 4, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I read through them fairly quickly and don't understand much of what it is saying. Like others I read lots of reviews and do searches on programs before I load them and hope and pray that someone will mention anything I really should have notice in the EULA.

Posted by: Rosie | April 4, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

IANAL, so no, I don't read them. They are written by lawyers for lawyers, and not for reasonably intelligent non-lawyer types. Which, I'm told, would make them essentially worthless in a courtroom, if it ever came to that.

Posted by: jp | April 5, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

I do sometimes read the EULAs of photo websites (because I care about what happens with my photos). I almost never read any other EULA.

Posted by: Lisa T | April 6, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@ Rob P

EULA are a simple click "OK" and get past them. Top marks for reading thru the legal drudgery to look at this. I have 2 questions for you about this article though:
1) Is this product really worth our time? I recall your earlier review of it pointed to a host of better options that are not still in beta. (Picasa, Kodak PhotoGallery, etc.)
2) As a tech editor, you have seen various EULA from different companies. Do you feel this is more or less draconian in its terms then others? I.E. Who owns the "Content", what both parties can do with it, etc.

What are RPs thoughts?

Posted by: JW | April 7, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting to see that the individuals' comments thus far mirror the vast majority of business management perspectives:

VERY few people read their software licenses.

Unfortunately for the business or artistic technology consumer, this error of omission can be extremely dangerous.

The so-called software police and copyright cops have more than 26 groups of enforcement auditors operating in the United States. Two of these groups are offering reward of up to $1,000,000 to anyone who can blow the whistle on your incorrectly licensed or utilized product.

As I constantly tell software and copyright compliance professionals: "If you don't read the license, don't be surprised when you have to pay out a six figure penalty for illegal possession or use.

I do, however, agree with Rob that the second version of the license content is the most useful. We all need to begin pushing the copyright holders to eliminate their plethora of legalese and simplify licensing. (Not likely to happen.)

Posted by: Alan Plastow | April 7, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Let me see if I understand this issue...

Adobe offers to let me use, free of charge, a product that it produces in hopes that I will purchase it (or some other Adobe product), utilize some service promoted by Adobe (prints from pictures, etc), or visit an advertisers website listed on theirs.

For this use, Adobe feels that they (and whoever they feel they need to included in the process) somehow have rights to the content of my pictures? I don't think so. I will continue to use Picassa, GIMP, and any of the other non-web based products.

Posted by: blasher | April 7, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

That new EULA still seems pretty bad, and their "explanations" just raise a lot more questions for me. Who are the "affiliates, subcontractors and agents" that need a license to my photos? In what way is it necessary to grant "the rights to distribute, publicly perform and publicly display" my content in order to let me edit some photos? How'd the public get into this?

That shorter paragraph you received may be easier to read, but I fear it hides a lot of tricky little passages, all alike.

Posted by: LarryMac | April 8, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I have a Eula checker, but I rarely use it and can't be bothered to find it and post it here, so I guess that's a big no.

Posted by: Richard Waddell | April 8, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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