What happens to Lightroom after my membership ends?

Since the launch of the Creative Cloud, Adobe has engaged in an ongoing dialog with the photographic community. We’ve tackled mobile workflows, provided ongoing enhancements and lastly, provided a membership plan tailor made for all levels of photographers. With the latest update to Lightroom 5.5 I believe we’ve also addressed a lingering concern in the community: What happens to my photographs after my membership ends?  With Lightroom 5.5, at the end of a membership, the desktop application will continue to launch and provide access to the photographs managed within Lightroom as well as the Slideshow, Web, Book or Print creations that we know many photographers painstakingly create. The Develop and Map modules have been disabled in order to signal the end of the membership and the need to renew in order to receive Adobe’s continuous innovation in those areas. Access to Lightroom mobile workflows will also cease to function. We hope this meets the expectations of our customers and we look forward to an ongoing dialog.

57 Responses to What happens to Lightroom after my membership ends?

  1. Greg says:

    This is a concern I have. I already own Lightroom 5.5 and I am not a Creative Cloud member. I have been contemplating taking up the current Lightroom/Photoshop offer but does that mean that, if I fail to renew, that my previous standalone Lightroom will be affected?
    Does this also imply that there are to be no further updates to the standalone devlopment and mapping modules?

    thanks

  2. Stephen Starkman says:

    I purchased LR at version 1.
    I’ve paid for every upgrade since, and opted in to adobes original limited time offer bundle with Photodhop CC. Adobe later made it “permanent “. At that time adobe stated LR was to continue as a perpetual stand alone product. That’s why I bought the bundle subscription. As far as I’m concerned I have a perpetual license for LR (all the modules!). Adobes offer at the time should stand.

    If I don’t have a perpetual LR licence, how can I revert to my last perpetual licence? Will you still offer paid upgrades so I can remain current, or have you totally reversed your original offer so that to remain current with LR I have to abandon the perp license for the subscription?

    As far as I can tell, this new policy is not what was offered when I opted into the photography bundle and I’m both concerned and upset.

    I’m totally pissed off at being lied to.

    Stephen

    • Tom Hogarty says:

      TH: This post has no impact on our perpetual commitment and just reassures those customers who have chosen to adopt the membership model going forward.

      • John says:

        You are forcing everyone into a subscription model. There are plenty of people who prefer a stand-alone permanent option to a monthly subscription, myself included. This is a horrible and unwanted change. I, for one, usually wait a generation before making a purchase. For example, LR1, skip lr2, buy LR3, skip lr4, buy lr5, unless there is some sort of gigantic upgrade or immediately visible benefit to my workflow. This subscription system abuses happy adobe customers like myself.

    • Hennell says:

      >At that time adobe stated LR was to continue as a perpetual stand alone product.

      Continue with a separate standalone product. As in you can buy LR 5 as a stand-alone one-off payment version or as the continuously updated, mobile supporting subscription. This is in contrast to Photoshop, Illustrator (and the rest) which are now CC only in their newest release and have no perpetual licence on offer. (CS6 being the last that did).

      The bundle was always a subscription system – if you want a perpetual license you’ll need to buy the stand-alone version that is available for Lightroom.

  3. wei chong says:

    This is too tightly worded. Does this mean there will be no LR 6.0? Or does this mean there will be a LR 6.0, but changed process? Would have been more clear if you put 5.5+ and beyond…

  4. Robert Offer says:

    I like the idea of the Lightroom & Photoshop package, I have boxed LR4 now but I would not want to place myself in a position whereby I’d paid for a product[s] for a period and stopped payment for whatever reason and then was not able to use the products which I’d paid for. I’d accept not having further updates but losing the facility to use a purchased product, I don’t accept and not something I’d want to pursue.

  5. Mike Pasini says:

    Tom, can you confirm that the Library module is unaffected, allowing new imports to the Catalog and quick edits? TIA

  6. JP Gea says:

    Tom – this is a step in the right direction, very good to see Adobe is listening. I’m very close to sign for this deal – however there is one last tweak to the licensing I would like to propose – which I believe would address the last remaining concerns. You have to admit blocking the develop module is a strategic choice – and when you say “the need to renew in order to receive Adobe’s continuous innovation in those areas” – this is a commercial decision rather than technical one (you could very well leave the develop module functional – but with no update).

    1. When I start CC subscription – I enter in a 12 (or 18) months agreement with Adobe. If I stop paying before the end – I have no more update and lightroom is functioning as you suggest.

    2. If I stop paying after 12 months – then I have no more update – but software if fully functional (maybe excluding maps / anything cloud related – but develop module still works). Obviously once I stopped – even for 1 months only – I will have to enter a new 12 months cycle.

    Incentive is still there – most people will never stop paying monthly – but customer will still have the choice to without loosing the use of their software.

    • Tom Hogarty says:

      I’m not sure I entirely understand your question. Yes we are a commercial venture so there is that underlying motivation in the expiration model. In terms of when someone decides to end their subscription, I don’t think that should influence the behavior thereafter.

      • JP Gea says:

        I understand the commercial motivation of the expiration model – and I can see why Lightroom may not bring enough revenues vs what it costs. However showing you are trying to hook-up customer for life with a subscription model is a dangerous marketing strategy, can alienate people and create unnecessary noise.

        I’m guessing the CC model has more a challenge of sign-up than attrition so I was suggesting you give customers the perception of an exit strategy with a frozen but fully functional software (without the icing, i.e. online stuff) after some time. In practice – how many people would stop their $10 per month subscription after 18 months ? I’m guessing not many – certainly not me, especially as you have no more real competitor. A consumer perception of choice …

        • Robert Offer says:

          I believe that JP Gea’s proposal is the right way forward, certainly for me. Cloud aspects of both the software packages is of questionable use for me as my internet D/L is poor (sub 1Mbps).
          The other question occurring to me is – what happens when I update my laptop or even change OS from Windows to Mac? Is it seen as a “new” subscription as it can’t see the old computer?
          Still trying to make up my mind.

          • Nino says:

            You can have CC software installed wherever you like, however you can only use it on the computer thats signed into your account.

            So if you change computers, just sign out of the old one and sign into the new one.

          • “The other question occurring to me is – what happens when I update my laptop or even change OS from Windows to Mac? Is it seen as a “new” subscription as it can’t see the old computer?

            No worries in either situation… You can install a single CC license on up to two computers – including both Windows and Mac operating systems flexibly – and you can also choose to move a license activation from one machine to another, or transfer it between system upgrades, etc.
            [This goes for any CC plan or application(s).]

  7. Daniel says:

    Will updates to LRCC be stopped once the customer stops paying or will non-payers continue to have access to updates?

    I ask because the wording in your post lightly implies that LRCC non-payers WOULD have access to updates, but would not be able to enjoy the updates to Map and Develop since those modules would be locked.

  8. Simon J.A. Simpson says:

    Tom, with the greatest respect I think you need to clarify your statements above.

    Some people seem to think that since Lightroom is undifferentiated in CC and on a perpetual license that it is in all respects an identical product. In one of your previous statements you referred to the two as being the same “version” when they are clearly not – one is functional in perpetuity (perpetual license) whereas the other (CC) relies on the payment of a subscription to remain functional. In respect of the disablement of the Develop and Map modules you seem to be conflating two statements – one, that their disablement signals the need to renew a subscription; and two, that renewing a subscription gives you access to Adobe’s future improvements of Lightroom (including the Develop and Map modules). My understanding is, therefore, that unsubscribing to the CC version of Lightroom will remove the functionality of the Develop and Map Modules only; and in addition that, as a non-subscriber, you will not receive any more updates to Lightroom of any kind. Subscribing once again will restore the full functionality of the two Modules, and Lightroom will be updated to the latest version with all the interim innovations you refer to.

    Perhaps you would be good enough to confirm that the above is correct and remove much doubt and speculation.

    • Simon J.A. Simpson says:

      Tom Hogan, would you be good enough to confirm that the above is correct to remove doubt and speculation.

      Thank pou.

      • They are the same version (application binary) that is licensed differently. One uses a serial (perpetual license) and one uses an Adobe ID to sign-in (CC membership).

        If your membership ends, the Develop and Map modules are disabled, but you can still install the updates. (e.g. if you are on 5.5 you will be able to update to 5.6)

        • Hi Tom & Jeff,

          This is great news to see in Lightroom and goes a long way towards reassuring customers on the question you posed, “What happens if/after my membership ends?”

          We’ve seen this question out there for other Creative Cloud apps/files as well… Hoping that this kind of “read-only mode” is something we can expect coming to other CC tools in the future? It would make a lot of sense and be consistent with what you’ve done here with LR. Also likely increase adoption. Thanks!

          • I can’t speak for other applications, but Photoshop has always had a really good story about file access/compatibility. As long as your save your PSDs with Max Compatibility or as a TIFF, those files are accessible from LR or any number of applications that can read those files types (OS Xs Preview app for example). You won’t have rich editing, but you can access your edited images to export/print/publish them.

  9. Daniel Wood says:

    The only thing that I want from Adobe is the option of an annual subscription that does not renew at the end of the term.

    If at any point during my subscription I decide that CC is no longer worth the full price, but I don’t want to cancel immediately and pay the penalty, I’d like to be able to turn off the renewal of my subscription.

    Any time I have to put a note in my calendar that says “cancel XYZ now because company ABC won’t let me until then” I have a negative impression of ABC.

    There are a lot of arguments about subscriptions. But we all know that not providing the option for a non-renewing contract/subscription is the “screw the customer” end of the stick. (Same end of the stick that you can’t cancel without calling us” lives.) Adobe would make its case a lot better if it stays away from that end of the stick.

  10. HRP says:

    I believe what JP Gea is requesting is a model that has often been discussed and suggested: converting a subscription product into an effectively perpetual product after 12 to 18 months of subscription payments have been made. In other words, after Adobe has collected sufficient subscription dollars equivalent to buying a classic perpetual license, leave all features enabled as of the latest subscribed update, and then no longer update the product and no longer treat it as a subscribed product.

  11. Raymond says:

    I like where JP Gea is going. This combines the best of subscription and one-off purchases.

    Let’s say that when you purchase a subscription under that model you are tied to a 12/18month contract.
    Then there are 3 scenarios:

    1. Cancel subscription before the 12/18 month period – the software reverts to the current ‘norm’ – i.e. DAM but no maps for develop module.
    2. Cancel subscription after 12/18 month period – you user will have deemed to have paid the ‘minimum’ amount for the standalone software and therefore the software remains fully functional albeit without the cloud or maps functionality.
    3. User continues to subscribe.

    This is a perfect pricing model for me (and a suggestion for Adobe to think about I guess). The next question would be how to deal with the perpetual updates?

    My view is that small ‘bug’ updates and similar will continue as normal but any ‘point’ upgrades or major upgrades in functional require a user under this pricing model to ‘accept’ to a extended period of minimum subscription before they can cancel and still maintain full functionality.

    Example. LR5.5 subscription requires 12/18 months of minimum subscription after which any cancellation does not cripple the software. If Adobe upgrades to LR5.6, they may require any additional 3 months subscription top-up. i.e. the user will now be required to subscribe for a minimum of 15/21 months. Now lets say LR6 is released, the user may now be required to subscribe for another full 12/18 month period.

  12. Sue Anne says:

    HI Tom, I know you said Library info will not be affected but just want to double check location info…if it was created from the map module will the Country, State, City, data still show up in the library metadata or will only data that has been manually input be all that show up?

  13. Dan Zemke says:

    This seems like a very reasonable approach. I suspect it was very difficult to accomplish internally.
    Thank you !

  14. Mark Ireland says:

    I would like to ask how can customers know when a release of lightroom will be a perpetual or a stand alone version if they do not install further creative cloud updates to the software.
    Seems like a backwards move and all adobe perpetual licenses will become obsolete sooner or later leaving many loyal users out of pocket and out in the cold.

    Mark Ireland
    Vivid Ireland Photography

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      Mark,

      Perpetual=Stand-alone as opposed to Subscription.

      The upside is that any perpetual license you currently own will install until such time as your computer’s OS no longer supports it. Obsolescence of a particular Version of a perpetually-licensed Lightroom is more bound by advances/releases in Mac/Windows and the longevity of your hardware. The DNG Conversion tool coupled with your last “Dot” release of Lightroom should handle new hardware for a long time in the unlikely event Adobe abandons LR in a perpetually-licensed version.

  15. Nate says:

    There’s no explicit mention here of what happens to the metadata when the CC licence on LR expires.
    Also, no guarantee that Adobe won’t change its licence conditions down the track.

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      That is the nature of the world, Nate. There are no guarantees anywhere. Any company can go out of business, discontinue a product, or change its policies at any time. This is a nice and seldom-realized exception that a company will come out and say what Adobe is saying here today.

      Tom has reiterated the Library (the holder of Metadata access in Lightroom) will have access to your Catalog and Images even if your subscription is no longer in place. If you’ve saved your metadata to the images (either embedded in the files or in their sidecars) you are golden. If not, your 5.5 release will continue to function in all ways in Library module giving access to and the ability to change your Metadata.

    • Expiration of membership doesn’t affect metadata. The Library module remains active. Further, if you save metadata to your files (XMP side car or DNGs) that metadata is accessible to any application that reads XMP metadata.

  16. Aruna Basnayake says:

    Hi – the whole world is moving to the subscription model: just look at Amazon, Dropbox and others. Even large corporations are purchasing software as a service. If this allows Adobe to continue to make investments that we, as customers, value, then I am all for it. In fact, by moving to a subscription model, I get LR plus PS, which I didn’t have previously. Plus access on my iPad. I will be switching and this statement from Adobe puts to rest my concerns about what happens if, for some reason, I decide to no longer renew my subscription. Thank you, Tom, for patiently answering all our questions!

  17. thanks for your useful informations…I just hope that stand alone versions of Lightroom will be supported in future versions since I use them often offline, mostly in a mac that is always offline, and I’m no way interested in cloud sharing…but just in the working program itself.

    Thanks again.

  18. Paul says:

    LR5.0

    If I upgrade to 5.0 I will have the Develop module, correct? If I further upgrade to 5.5 the Develop module goes away, correct?

    I am not happy that we are being pushed into a subscription that will cripple our software if we can no longer afford it. I truly hope another company sees this as an opportunity to compete with Adobe and help us little guys out.

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      If you subscribe, install LR 5.x and then decide to let your subscription lapse, you lose access to develop.
      If you buy a perpetual (traditional) license, your Develop module works until you, in the future, install an Operating System that LR 5.x doesn’t work on.

      No one is being pushed. Buy the Perpetual and everything is just like before.

  19. Øystein Otterdal says:

    I own a perpetual license of LR 5, and on top of that I have a subscription for LR and PS. I have installed PS, but kept my perpetual LR. Now there is a new update out, but when I want to install that Adobe ask me to install LR from CC to get the update. I don’t want to do that because I’m not sure if I will continue the subscription when my first year is over. How do I update?

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      Normally, you would open your perpetually-licensed copy of Lightroom and go to Check for Updates… and it should take you to the download page for the perpetually licensed version of the latest update for Lightroom. Have you tried this method? If not, how are you trying to do it? If you let us know if you are Mac or Windows, we can post a link for you.

  20. Justin says:

    Dear adobe please change this draconian business model! Access to online services is understandable reason for a subscription but does not warrant disabling the productive functions of purchased software.

    A for the software f for the business model

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      Lightroom still has its original licensing scheme. It also has a Creative Cloud Subscription version. Nothing has really changed except additional ways to license Lightroom. No features of any perpetual license have been disabled.

  21. Mark says:

    So I have a LR5.5 perpetual license. Say I subscribe to CC and download both LR and PS. Then I want to execute an exit strategy after a year or more when LR CC has been updated to LR6 or later. To be clear, I will then be able to move that Library back to my LR5.5 perpetual copy? How is this accomplished?

    • If you install a perpetual version of Lightroom 6/next, it will import your prior version catalog.

      • Mark says:

        So as you update the CC version of LR, the perpetual version will also updated (at a cost for major steps). That’s what wasn’t clear to me. I was under the impression that LR was being treated like PS, where there weren’t any subsequent versions being released. Very confusing to be treating product lines differently. But at least there will be a way to exit… and that makes it a little more appealing to me.

  22. martha cuello says:

    I purchased the lightroom 5 boxed software. I get the updates on my laptop whenever they are due to update. My question, do I need to subscribe to creative cloud? And how do I get Lightroom Mobile on my iphone and ipad? Do I have to pay extra a month (subscribe to something) for this. I am so lost and I am just a beginner.
    Martha

  23. Sean Gates says:

    I am currently trialling cc with Lightroom and Photoshop on my Mac and Windows. I currently use Aperture but would like to use Windows as well. I really like LR but that is sufficient for my needs and for me Photoshop is overkill. So at the end of the trial I will probably purchase the standalone LR. Is there a way that I can convert to a perpetual licence as I can’t see any way to do this within the product?

  24. Chris Nasdel says:

    This is a bad idea all around. I’ve had to go back to editing with Photoshop and iPhoto because I can’t afford a subscription based service. Companies can, but for the individuals it’s not practical at all. Thanks Adobe! You’ve really help to improve my workflow!

    • Rikk Flohr says:

      Lightroom is still available via the traditional perpetual license. You can buy it from Adobe or from retailers.

      • Scooter says:

        I’m a little confused; at this poit it appears that LR Perpetual license is available from retailers, but not from the adobe site. THere *is* a perpetual license upgrade on the adobe site. Chat tells me that adobe has gone to all subscription now and perperual license is not available.
        I wish I could find out the definitive answer – is there something binding somewhere ( like in terms and conditions ) that defines what happens if I decide to not renew my subscription? In this forum I’m hearing that the software will keep running to the extent of the Library module – so I’ll be able to search, sort, make a collection and export, but not Develop. That’s OK with me, I’m mostly concerned about losing all the edits I’ve already done. Which is what I was told elsewhere – that if I dont renew, the software stops working and I will only have access to my originals. That would be unacceptable.
        So … to repeat – is there someplace anyone can point to that has the definitive, binding “Word”?

        • Rikk Flohr says:

          Definitive Answer: Lightroom 5.x is available as a Perpetual or as a Subscription license. The Perpetual is available as an upgrade or as a full stand-alone version. The only thing you get differently with a Lightroom Subscription license (via the Photography Program) is access to Lightroom Mobile. A search of the Adobe website will show you that you can buy Lightroom either way. If Chat has informed you otherwise, that information was incorrect.

          As for what happens when you let a subscription lapse, this article covered that already. Terms and conditions are available if you wish to read them via your software.

  25. Scooter says:

    Thanks for the reply, Rikk. I know I may be being a little obtuse, but I am still … unsettled …

    Last night I wanted to upgrade my copy of lightroom.
    I went to the adobe website. The photographer’s CC subscription looked good.
    I wondered about the issue of what happens if I cancel.
    I initiated a chat. In that chat I was told:
    – there is no longer a perpetual license version of LR.
    – if you cancel, the software stops working. Stops working. Period.
    – but I’d still have access to my original photos.
    – but yes, I’d lose all my edits.
    – but it’s ok because with auto-renew the price will never change as long as I dont cancel.
    – this was repeated to me at least a couple times, even after I quoted from the ‘buy’ page that ‘the price of renewal may change’.
    – At this point, I said I needed to consider a different solution. I was then told I *could* buy a perpetual license upgrade. Or buy from a retailer. I found this just … weird. Definitely time to stop and think.

    I then searched and found this thread. I read through it a couple times. I can’t figure out how “official” this thread is. Who is “Tom Hogarty”? Who is “Rikk Flohr”? Do either of them have authority to make this assurance?

    After much searching last night I found a ‘terms and conditions’ which made no mention of what happens if I stop subscribing ( Other than “we’re sorry to see you go”).

    I *want* the subscription service. I think it is a great deal.
    I just don’t want to discover that all my edits and ability to search my photos disappears and I’m left with just my originals on my file system if I decide I can no longer afford the subscription.
    I can’t believe more photographers aren’t completely freaked out about this.

    Are You & Tom employees of adobe? Is this blog considered binding by adobe?
    Like I said, I don’t mean to be obtuse and definitely dont mean any offense. I just get nervous about losing a year’s (or more !) worth of work and want to really nail down that that won’t happenb …

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