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It isn't legally or actually theft — which in English law at least is defined as 'taking with intent to permanently deprive' — but arguments don't have to be true to work, and it suits the paid-for industry to paint it as such.

For theft is obviously wrong, something we learn at school. Branding a behaviour 'immoral' is a powerful way to change that behaviour.

Adobe hasn't quite got the hang of this. If you promote moral behaviour, it helps if you behave morally yourself. And morally, if you take money from your customers, you then assume some responsibility for their safety when they use your products. This is enshrined in consumer law and practice. It is also basic humanity.

Adobe has abdicated this responsibility. It has found a critical vulnerability — a security flaw in Photoshop CS5 — that puts its users at risk, and instead of fixing it, the company is advertising the fact that there is a problem where the solution is that you pay for an upgrade to Photoshop CS6.

Otherwise, it says, you're on your own and recommends piously that you exercise extreme caution.

That bears repeating. Adobe has issued a critical security warning for software that is still being sold, where the fix is to pay the company for new software.

Photoshop CS5 is barely two years old. It costs £600 by itself, much more as part of Creative Suite. If a £600 television had a dangerous flaw, there would be a product recall — an expensive, embarrassing and time-consuming process, to be sure, but one companies accept as part of their responsibility towards their customers.

Adobe doesn't have to do that; it can patch its software over the internet, just like every other software company, at minimal expense and fuss. If expense and fuss were considerations where customer safety is concerned, that might even be a factor.

It refuses. It has taken your money, put you in danger, and now it wants more to get you out.

Adobe has taken your money, put you in danger, and now it wants more to get you out.

This is immoral behaviour. It is cynical behaviour. It is the behaviour of a company that knows it has an effective monopoly and isn't afraid to use dangerous flaws in its own products to extort yet more cash from its captive audience.

That audience now has three choices. It can pay Adobe its extortion fee, thus encouraging the future use of security flaws as marketing levers. It can give up Photoshop, and cut itself off from a basic tool of the creative industry. Or it can download Photoshop CS6 illicitly from the internet.

Piracy is bad. Holding your own users to ransom is worse. The former may or may not result in a lost sale, or it might lead to a new, paid-for user. The latter is taking money through threats, an attitude that risks losing everything in the long run.

If Adobe is serious about expecting its users to behave in ways it considers moral, it must show the same basic respect in return. Otherwise, it is promoting the attitude that you take what you can, when you can, and damn the rights and wrongs — the very aspect of piracy that it finds most damning in its customers.


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