April 04, 2008

Photoshop Express revises terms of service

In response to customer feedback about terms of service, the Photoshop Express team has made some changes.  Here’s the note I received from them this afternoon:

We have revised the terms of service for Photoshop Express beta. Revisions were made in context of user feedback. The original terms of service implied things we would never do with the content within Photoshop Express.  Thus, revisions were made to clarify our intent:

  • Adobe’s Rights – Adobe has retained only those limited rights that allow us to operate the service and to enable you to do all the things the service offers.  If you decide to terminate your Photoshop Express account, Adobe’s rights also will be terminated. We don’t claim ownership of your content and won’t sell your images.
  • Shared Content – We clearly state the rights you’re granting other users when you choose to publicly share Your Content.

The terms of service will not take effect until April 10th, in order to give you time to review and choose to continue using the Photoshop Express beta under these new terms.

Thank you for your feedback on Photoshop Express beta. We value your input and support in improving the service for all users.

Posted by John Nack at 2:52 PM on April 04, 2008


  • Scott Valentine — 4:25 PM on April 04, 2008

    I’m glad to see the legal team took action so quickly, and based on customer feedback.

  • JonPad — 4:56 PM on April 04, 2008

    Sounds good to me. I guess I should read those terms of service a little more closely.

  • Roger — 5:10 PM on April 04, 2008

    MUCH better! Yay! In fairness to the lawyers at Adobe I would hazard a guess that their first stab was crummy because they weren’t quite sure what was being asked of them… (seen it myself – you can’t hand anyone, not even a lawyer, a list of requirements on a napkin and then expect perfection).
    No doubt for this revision someone indoctrinated them in photo sharing. And they made it CLEAR (visions of VPs threatening attorneys with ominous stuff if they couldn’t make it understandable to a 14 year old).
    Now all the hard working marketeers and engineers can breathe a sigh of relief. It must have been annoying to work hard on a project and see it derailed by something like this.

  • Jason — 8:33 PM on April 04, 2008

    Great revisions, short, simple to read/understand and required only a minute or two. If only all EULA’s could be written that way…*cough cough*

  • Ted — 8:43 AM on April 07, 2008

    The clarified terms are indeed a big improvement. And they’re even in plain English rather than legalese!
    The thing to keep in mind, however, is that there really was nothing wrong with the original terms that caused the uproar. To provide a Web-based photo editing service, Adobe really does need to make copies of uploaded images, distribute them on the Internet to and from whatever servers are actually running the software, and make whatever alterations to the images the user requests. Those are all rights that belong exclusively to the copyright owner (and, as we all know, the images become the maker’s copyrighted property the moment they’re written to a memory card or disk).
    So it’s understandable that Adobe’s lawyers would want users to grant them an explicit license to do all those things to those copyrighted works. They wrote it up in properly convoluted legalese, and inserted it into “adhesion contract” to which all users must “agree” (by clicking the appropriate button) before they can use the system. They probably were greatly surprised and chagrined when some ignorant layman actually read the “agreement” (which few users actually do), misunderstood the perfectly lucid legalese (which is intended solely for licensed lawyers and not for ignorant layman), and got inappropriately upset about it.
    The lawyers reacted to this crisis by creating a clarifying provision written in English for users rather than just for their learned colleagues. Of course, they could have prevented the PR difficulty (and saved themselves some reactive rework) by writing the entire adhesion contract in plain English in the first place. Alternatively, they could make it “bilingual,” with both lucid legalese to protect themselves properly and an English translation so users can know and understand what they’re “agreeing” to. That would be a good practice for any company that wants to show that it cares about its customers.

  • Hey Ted — 12:14 PM on April 07, 2008

    Without going line by line through the original and pointing out how overreaching and unnecessary for providing the service it was, I’ll simply note that you don’t know what you are talking about if you think the original has simply been restated into plain english. Heaven help anyone if you actually practice law. Which I doubt very much from both the style and substance of your post.

  • Ernie Longmire — 2:11 PM on April 07, 2008

    The thing to keep in mind, however, is that there really was nothing wrong with the original terms that caused the uproar.

    Have you actually read the original terms? The update is not just a “user-friendly” rewording — among other things, it reduces the scope of rights users grant to Adobe, which is exactly what people were complaining about in the first place.
    You’re claiming, in effect, that people were just too stupid to understand what the original terms really meant, which in addition to being as arrogant as all hell, is flat-out wrong.

  • Ted — 3:29 PM on April 07, 2008

    What I’m actually claiming is that in the original version, the lawyers did a poor job of specifying the rights they wanted users to grant Adobe. The legalese they used was perhaps excessively broad, which is something lawyers too often tend to do in their zealous efforts to protect their clients. And a user unaccustomed to legalese could easily interpret the poorly-written statement to mean that using the service grants Adobe perpetual ownership of image, the copyrights, and everything that goes with them. That’s why Adobe ended up with egg on their face, and the lawyers had to work overtime reining in and clarifying their legalese (or at least I hope they lost some sleep because of it).
    The other point is that although the “agreement” is ostensibly addressed to the user, who has a “take it or leave it” choice of either accepting and being bound by it or not using the product, it isn’t actually written for those users. The lawyers are actually writing it specifically for other lawyers who might want to either challenge it or defend a user who violates it. So they use legalese, and they write it as broadly as possible. The unfortunate reality is that most users’ eyes glaze over after the first convoluted paragraph of fine print in the little box on the Web page.
    I think the Adobe lawyers actually intended to create a grant of only the copying and distribution rights that are necessary to make an on-line tool work (as the revised version states). But in their zeal to protect Adobe from claims of copyright infringement, what they actually wrote looked like users were granting Adobe full ownership rights to the images they edit. And the legalese only made that impression worse. Users complained, executives got upset, and the lawyers responded. Maybe they’ll be more careful next time, since they’re now aware that both lawyers and non-lawyers will read it and not hesitate to make an appropriately smelly stink if they don’t like what they read.
    And finally, I still think EULAs need to be “bilingual.”

  • HeyTed — 1:40 AM on April 08, 2008

    Ted, in response to the gibberish constituting your last post, you are wrong in your interpretation of what was wrong with the original and your characterization of why the lawyers wrote what they did and who they write for is, at best, speculative and irrelevant.
    To cut through your B.S. post, the original terms were overreaching as follows:
    It allowed Adobe to use your content to derive revenue from it and to incorporate your content into other Materials in any format or medium. PERIOD. Nothing whatsoever tied such use or revenue generation to the service for which you provide your content or otherwise. GOT THAT? And Adobes license was in perpetuity with no way for you to terminate it.
    Now even someone that wrote the gibberish that you did above (long and bizzare references to legaleese blah blah, lawyers blah blah) should see that the original language would permit Adobe to make money off your images apart from the service.
    The revised terms grant a license SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF OPERATING THE SERVICE AND ENABLING YOU TO USE IT. Adone can’t sell or license your content om a standalone basis. And you can terminate all Adobes rights.
    Now what Adobe and/or its lawyers “intended” with the first draft. Who knows or cares. Maybe a judge would limit the license or not. But all we should go on is what they wrote. And what they wrote had the problems I mentioned. And they promptly fixed it in response to complaints. [Name-calling deleted, as it’s not welcome here.]

  • HeyTed — 1:44 AM on April 08, 2008

    PS, I forgot to comment on the other poster that wrote this:
    “You’re claiming, in effect, that people were just too stupid to understand what the original terms really meant, which in addition to being as arrogant as all hell, is flat-out wrong.”
    That’s exactly what that guy thinks. He’s stupidly arguing that people can’t follow the “legaleese” and the two versions are substantively the same. [Name-calling deleted, as it’s not welcome here.]

  • HeyTed — 1:47 AM on April 08, 2008

    I don’t know what makes you sound more foolish Ted. That you think people couldn’t follow the original or this gem “What I’m actually claiming is that in the original version, the lawyers did a poor job of specifying the rights they wanted users to grant Adobe.” Yeh, the lawyers didn’t know what they wanted. They threw darts at a dictionary. They don’t know how to draft or what it means. [Name-calling deleted, as it’s not welcome here.]

  • HeyTed — 12:20 AM on April 09, 2008

    John, please don’t post my comments in the future if you determine to modify them in any manner. The “name calling” as you refer to it in my posts wasn’t name calling. It was a factual statement.
    [There are enough brutal dumps on the Internet that I don’t need to let my own blog become a place where people call each other fools, dumbasses, etc. (as you did). So, I simply removed the most uncivil bits from an essentially anonymous poster. –J.]

  • Vaidas — 3:09 PM on April 09, 2008

    Hi guys,
    Maybe here I’ll find something. Have absolutely lost in jungle by name” http://www.adobe.com “.
    I can’t find e-mail address for customer service. I had telephone conversation with lady today and she asked me to send some details by e-mail. To avoid mistakes, I didn’t write down address, as she said it is on web page. Was browsing hour, but without success.
    May some of you guys be able to provide me e-mail address of Adobe’s customer service? Please.
    Regards, Vaidas

  • Paul — 8:02 PM on April 24, 2008

    How do I terminate my Photoshop Express account

  • Ryan — 3:25 PM on April 28, 2008

    A remaining bit in the new version, a restriction on how you may use others content provided it was “shared” perplexes me. It restricts usage to “non-commercial” but in the same breath says that if the user is a business that it may only use the content internally. Confusing at best, at worst possibly a loophole left wide open. In my mind non-commercial and internal business use are completely incompatible concepts except in rare circumstances. With regards to your/our shared content, It reads as slightly weaker than blanketly applying a CC-ND-NC to your shared content… far far less restrictive or user configurable than other popular photo sharing services. (FYI, An interpretation of a layman, NOT A LAWYER!) ;-)

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