Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Dolby v. Adobe

Karl Bode (in 2019, via Daniel J. Wilson, Hacker News):

Adobe this week began sending some users of its Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director programs a letter warning them that they were no longer legally authorized to use the software they may have thought they owned.


“We have recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications and and a result, under the terms of our agreement, you are no longer licensed to use them,” Adobe said in the email. “Please be aware that should you continue to use the discontinued version(s), you may be at risk of potential claims of infringement by third parties.”

William Gallagher:

While Adobe has not said who the dispute is with, the company is presently being sued by Dolby. Through a legal complaint filed in March 2019 with the US District Court and the Northern District of California, Dolby is seeking a jury trial over issues of “copyright infringement and breach of contract” against Adobe.

Prior to the creation of the Creative Cloud subscription service, Adobe licensed certain technologies from Dolby with an agreement based on how many discs of certain apps were sold. Now that the software is distributed online, the companies reportedly renegotiated their agreement to be based on how many users are actually running the software.

Jonathan Bailey:

In 2012 Adobe decided to largely ditch the model of selling units of software for a subscription model it dubbed the Creative Cloud.


However, it also produced a problem for one of Adobe’s partners, Dolby. Starting in 2002, Dolby provided audio technology to Adobe to be used in its software for both encoding and decoding audio. However, the licensing fee was based on sales figures, something that became much more difficult to calculate with the move to a subscription model.


According to Dolby’s lawsuit, in September 2017, the company announced it was exercising its audit rights for the 2015-2017 period. However, they claim that Adobe failed to provide the needed information, just as they had done for the 2012-2014 period.

Dolby also claims that Adobe improperly consolidated multiple software products when paying royalties. For example, offering a bundle that had four apps with Dolby software, but only paying for one use. Other issues included problems with site licenses, multiple sales to a single customer and so forth.

Karl Bode:

Gilbert noted that consumers now live in a world in which consumers almost never actually own anything that contains software. In this new reality, end users are forced to agree to “take it or leave it” end user license agreements (EULAs), in which the licensor can change its terms of service without notice. “Even if Adobe is fully in the right here with regard to the Dolby dispute, it has the power to force its customers to upgrade to newer more expensive versions at its whim, which illustrates the undue power and influence of EULAs over the lives of consumers,” Gilbert said.

Here’s some more information about the lawsuit, which I guess is still ongoing.


Update (2023-05-11): The case was dismissed in 2020 (via Nick Heer).

Update (2023-05-19): See also: Hacker News.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I have a VM permanently running the 2015 version of Adobe Audition, despite subscribing to the complete Creative Suite, because this was the last version to support Encoding to Dolby Digital Plus. No other encoding solution I’ve been able to find supports 8-channel EAC3 encoding. If Adobe tries to disable it, I will be…displeased.

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