The cloud vs humanity: Adobe terminates every software license in Venezuela, keeps Venezuelans' money

Correct. The government order, as compelling as compliance with it is, is ultimately a side issue – Cory takes issue with its brain-dead nature, typical of this regime, but he isn’t arguing that Abobe should break the law. Adobe made the decision to go with the cloud-based SaaS rental model, and that is at the heart of the problem.

Tech companies’ first instincts are to knuckle under to authoritarian governments (see Apple with China), but it’s much harder for them to pull a product that’s already bought and paid for and in possession of the user.

Oh, I’m sure there’s legal boilerplate up the wazoo in their ToS to ensure that the customer (and not just one in Venezuela) has no recourse.


See also: Books vs eBooks.


Yes. If you’re not stripping off the DRM after you buy, that book (or entire library) could go away with the snap of a finger on the Invisible Hand. Same goes for music, video, etc.


As John S pointed out, SAAS is not a product, it is a service. You subscribe to services, which does not give you the same rights as purchasing something. The cloud is a mechanism for rent collection. There is no other reason for Adobe to use an SAAS model.

If software in Venezuela is anything like it is where I live, you can get copy software from pretty much every shop that does computer repair. Here, they will even install it for you for a dollar or two. Open source software is another route.

When sanctions are lifted and Adobe is able to restart services in Venezuela they are going to have a long tough time of it to convince people to trust them again. That goes for anything from American companies as well.


I still use photoshop and illustrator CS3 on a daily basis. I’ve had to bend over for their goddamn subscription fees with indesign, but I go for months at a time without using or paying for it; I also pay for typekit but that doesn’t bother me. Since CS3 products will imminently stop working on Mac, my teeth-grinding hatred of Adobe has been much on my mind of late.

On a certain level, yeah, I’m being childish. I make money using their software, and I accept that they need to keep their business running even if their products reached maturity decades ago. Only, their whole approach is such a blatant, targeted “fuck you” to customers like me (i.e. the kind without whom their business wouldn’t exist) that it’s exceptionally hard not to respond in kind. I like and appreciate their products, but I have a deep emotional craving to harm their business which is 100% a direct result of their choices.

Plus, there’s a lingering hope that they might recognise that it’s a problem when the people who actually use their products (as opposed to the purchasing managers who are their main customers by volume) actively despise them. If those purchasing managers love the subscription model so much, what is the harm in also offering an upfront pricing option to real users? I’d probably have spent a grand or so on upgrades by now if they hadn’t made it so gratuitously acrimonious.




Things Venezuelans thought they owned were expropriated without compensation?

Try reading what I said again.

In other words, days gone past. In a lot of cases, including Adobe’s you cannot do that anymore. I never said people bought a copy, I said pirating is not even a solution because no one has a copy except Adobe. I also noted that this is a problem with the whole access model, because what has happened to Venezuela could be done to anybody.

Please don’t put words in my mouth or speak to me like I don’t understand.


Not trivial, these days, although still possible for non-cloud applications. Even Office is a pain in the tukhus now, and Office 365 simply is not possible, as a cloud app ^^’.

What this really is, is a lesson in why “cloud computing” IS NOT your friend. Period. Use it if you must, yes, but never trust it, because you have no actual direct control.



Or your Dropbox data.


From a legal standpoint, Venezuela’s government can just say fuck off and make pirating anything you already paid for legal. You could even make it legal to pirate any software the other country refuses to sell you whether you already bought it or not (they can’t even claim damages since they couldn’t legally get your money anyway).

From a technological standpoint, they could make all the DNS servers in the country redirect all cloud-based verification to an in-country system emulating the activation of all this software 100% of the time.

From technological standpoint #2, you can VPN all the activation stuff to another country without sanctions against it (or directly into the USA, even) and Adobe/Microsoft/whoever’s servers will see you as coming from that country, not Venezuela.

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right, the reminder i needed to learn more about how to use that Affinity Photo download i installed this summer…

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What, you’re suggesting that swingeing, ill-considered sanctions against a developed country full of college-educated Spanish- and English-speaking IT professionals and server farms could somehow backfire against the US copyright regime? Seems far-fetched.

I won’t say it sucks, but it’s no Photoshop, and probably never will be. For the first few decades of Photoshop’s existence, the entire world’s supply of attention and money was spent on making Photoshop into the thing the world wanted. No replacement will ever get that much polish or funding. It’s full of boring, unimpressive details that no one will get glory for emulating but which make someone’s job easier every day. It’s, like, a massive trove of institutional knowledge which we paid to give Adobe, and which they now charge $10/month to access.

(I just noticed the links on their putrid website use the word “buy” rather than something truth-based like “rent”, or “look, just give us your money. We want it”).


Hang on, not so long ago Trump ordered American companies to quit China, and was roundly mocked for over-reaching himself.

But he can issue a decree ordering American companies to stiff Venezuelan customers?

What’s the legal basis for this? I thought Executive Orders were only binding on federal agencies and their employees, not private companies or individuals.


As noted above, there is nothing to pirate if the software itself (not just activation) is in the cloud.

Users using a VPN to access the cloud would also need a bank account outside Venezuela to pay the subscription and probably an address in a foreign country so that they appear to live outside Venezuela.

5 Likes is a good alternative.


Oof. I guess you can avoid updating to Catalina. Mojave is supposed to be supported through fall 2021. Meanwhile, consider migrating to Inkscape and GIMP. The interfaces are different, but I think they have approximate feature-parity with CS3.

Hey, if is to be evil, you should go full evil!

I’m a CS researcher and coder, and thanks to the efforts of the Free Software movement, I get to have a 100% FOSS workflow where I truly, truly own the software I use.

But people who work with graphics do not have this luxury: what your clients expect are Adobe files, what your training was likely focused on is Adobe software, and the features you need to do your job are all in Adobe software.

As I understand it, Blender’s gotten to the point where you can actually ditch the lifeline to Autodesk, but Inkscape and Gimp aren’t at a point where you can just give up on Illustrator and Photoshop.

Now, sure, you can choose to not bow down to greed, but that means that you can’t make a living doing the job you know how to do. And making a living by doing an honest day’s work is hard enough right now even without crippling your ability to do it ahead of time.