Is Adobe Giving Away CS2 or Not?

Adobe's second Creative Suite (CS2) is now free. Except it isn't, really. Um. Yeah.

Instead of keeping the registration servers running for CS2, anyone with an AdobeID can download all the CS2 software and use the provided serial number that is posted right there to run it. Forever. Boom.

Except Adobe has stated officially here that this not true. You can only use these downloads if you already own a license of CS2. But they're not going to check. Or care. They'll just shake their heads in silent disapproval, apparently.

It's brilliant. I talked to an Adobe guy at a conference this past summer, and was complimenting them on how much I liked Creative Cloud. I said that for students it's actually almost as cheap as just pirating it, which is what I and everybody I know did to learn the basics in school. The guy said "are you kidding me? Everybody working at Adobe pirated it to learn it, that's how we got so good at it!"

Creative Cloud is awesome and worth every dime, but they made it much too difficult to pirate casually. Mission Accomplished, I guess. Except they WANT a certain amount of casual piracy. That's how you get the vast majority of learners. No one wants to work in a lab using the school's copy on the school's machine on the school's hours. They want their own copy on their own machine to work in the middle of the night in their underwear.

Is CS6 really that difficult to pirate? I don't know, since Creative Cloud is cheap enough that I wouldn't even bother. But I know art students. They'll still rationalize that they can't afford the $30/month for every single Adobe application. And they've started using GIMP, Pixelmator, and other apps. Logical? Nope. Dumb? Yup. A huge problem for Adobe? Almost certainly.*

And let's not forget that this is a global product. The price for CS6/Creative Cloud is nominal, but in many corners of many countries, this is completely out of reach. But Adobe needs these tools to be essential even to those users, even the upstart kid in Cairo taking my workshop whose family would never be able to afford that subscription. Because he was really good, and he's going to become something.

See, some Adobe apps you really do need, and they don't have a real alternative. After Effects. And, um. Yeah. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign... those are best of breed, but they're not the only solutions, not by a long shot. They are essential because everyone believes they are essential.

And as soon as that aura of essentialness evaporates... well, remember when Avid Media Composer was the only serious video editing contender?

So, I read this as a tacit blessing. "Keep us essential. Please."

*If your response is "if you can't afford $30/month, you can't afford to be a digital artist," please move along, after giving Paul Ryan that much needed backrub.