Adobe Tempts Users with Forbidden Fruit, Could Take Legal Action if You Bite

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Monday's free Photoshop offer was not technically free, but it is still available to anyone capable of clicking a link . On Adobe's (NASDAQ: ADBE ) forum page , the Community Administrator stated the following:

"Effective December 13, Adobe disabled the activation server for CS2 products and Acrobat 7 because of a technical glitch. These products were released over 7 years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems. But to ensure that any customers activating those old versions can continue to use their software, we issued a serial number directly to those customers. While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers."

Forum members quickly noted that this was a rather soft denial of the company's suspected giveaway, particularly because the download page is still active.

Dov Isaacs, Adobe's Principal Scientist , chimed in with the following comments:

"You have heard wrong!" he wrote in a forum post. "Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2!

"What is true is that Adobe is terminating the activation servers for CS2 and that for existing licensed users of CS2 who need to reinstall their software, copies of CS2 that don't require activation but do require valid serial numbers are available. (Special serial numbers are provided on the page for each product download.) See http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1114930 .

"You are only legally entitled to download and install with that serial number if you have a valid license to the product!"

Isaacs paints a significantly different picture from Adobe's Community Administrator. While the administrator merely said that users may have "interpreted" the download links as being an opportunity to download the software for "free," Isaacs plainly states that users are not allowed to download and install the programs unless they already own them.

This is a contradictory response that will only serve to enhance the confusion surrounding Adobe's decision.

Tech companies do not typically allow consumers to easily download things they do not want them to have, but that is exactly what Adobe is doing with CS2. That download link -- the one that has popped up everywhere -- is still active .

If Adobe does not want consumers to download CS2 without a valid license, then it needs to lock the download page and make a formal announcement explaining why. The company cannot simply rely on questionable forum posts to tell consumers that they do not have the right to download something that appears to be available to everyone.

At the very least Adobe could have placed a notice on the CS2 download page. The company could have published a press release . Adobe has not done either of those things.

Instead, the Photoshop maker has dropped the forbidden fruit right in the middle of the World Wide Web. If Isaacs' words represent the entire firm, Adobe might think that it has the right to take legal action against those who download CS2 -- a product that the company no longer sells.

Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: ADBE

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