60% of Photoshop Users are PIRATES!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

So here it is… the one week results from our previous poll on software piracy. In that short time, we’ve had nearly 500 photographers cast their votes and the outcome is quite interesting. It looks like Adobe’s high-end photo editing software packages (like Photoshop and Lightroom) are hot items in the pirated software market.

I’m not here to make judgments or anything — I’m just presenting the results from our little study. I’d also like to mention that my computer is 100% free of pirated or “borrowed” software and that the poll results are no indication of my own habits.

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Each of the results below have two graphs. The first is a measure of how many of us use a particular piece of software: users versus non-users. The second graph takes the users and splits them into pirates and non-pirates. Also, I’m going to leave the polls running for a while to see how things progress over time.


58% Pirates

Wow… I expected the number of Photoshop pirates to be high, but not quite that high! 58%?!? So for every legal copy of Photoshop, there’s a pirated counterpart… and then some! An equally interesting observation from the poll is that 87% of the people who read this blog are Photoshop users of some sort. I’m sure we represent a higher density population of Photoshoppers, but my guess is that well over 50% of digital photographers have access to Photoshop.


55% Pirates

Although Lightroom isn’t quite as popular as Photoshop with the general public (with only 58% of the voters), the users of Lightroom are just as willing to pirate the software. I assumed that Lightroom would be less pirated because it’s newer software and because the price is slightly lower than that of Photoshop. I assumed wrong. Then again, if you’re going to pirate a copy of Photoshop, why not Lightroom too?


38% Pirates

We have quite a few “other software” users in the mix too. I didn’t break down the polls into every piece of software on the market, so I clumped everything other than Photoshop and Lightroom into this category. Interestingly, the rate of piracy (at 38%) is much lower than with the high-end Adobe products. I can’t imagine that other software would be more difficult to steal, so this lower number is probably a factor of popularity, price, and availability.


0% Pirates

And out of the four groups in the poll, this was the only one with absolutely no piracy. Go figure. I’m actually impressed at how many people use free and open source software for photo editing — 64%! And only 19% of those are using the software that came with their cameras. The rest is all open source and freeware/shareware. Good for you guys! Although, there’s probably some percentage of free software users who have pirated copies of commercial software.

What do you guys think? Are the results surprising? Should Adobe care about this? I’m sure they’re aware of Photoshop and Lightroom being pirated, but I wonder what their position is on the topic.

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110 thoughts on “60% of Photoshop Users are PIRATES!

  1. duaego

    There are dozens of phony Adobe products all over the eBay. Some CS4 Ex
    tended pirated copies are going for less than $200.00 and, these counterfeits are coming in from Southern Europe but, most of these scam-diggers are straight from the boats sailing from China. A belligerent act of war in my book!

    Adobe maintains that only PhotoShop CS4 Extended that come from an “Authorized Reseller” of Adobe products are able to be registered and used with the online benefits. Therefore, one never really knows if the installed copy can be registered and work beyond the second time the program is started. The “Serial Number” is what you need to use the program. These numbers are available on the phony clones packages – but, once Adobe’s massive computers find it to be a bogus number . . . ZAP! The program will not work on the next time you open it.

    I was burned personally on two occasions with purchases on the eBay. I have heard from dozens of buyers that experienced the same while trying to save a little money by using the eBay. eBay and PayPal are little help in this. However, they did see that I was refunded over $500.00 in wasted purchases.

    After all that . . . I ended up buying Adobe Creative Suite 4 – Master Collection straight from Adobe’s website. $2500.00 !

    john harris

  2. luis s

    LOL adobe knows that there software is pirated and is ok with that . They even mentioned it in press conference. This is the reason behind it. A million people pirate it in the industry and become great at the software. Of those million a percentage gets jobs in the field requiring the use of an editing software. Employer buys photoshop instead of another software because the new employees are already comfortable with it. ya see Photoshop was always meant as a pro tool for professionals and companies so everyone pirating the software is just seen as training the companies dont have to pay for and a way of photoshop taking top billing as the editing software of choice.

  3. tommy

    Adobe does not market to the amateur… at ALL. They are company that makes PROFESSIONAL tools. Asking them to lower the price to something like $200-$300, as mentioned above, is ridiculous.
    if we are amateur maybe coral draw is better option

  4. Walter H

    Maybe Adobe is not so stupid. They charge enough so that one purchase pays for ten, at their cost. who’s stealing from whom?

  5. Ethics?

    A lot of people want to justify their personal loss based on their morals and fear. How many of you “graphic designers” or photographers are selling your work to horrible companies? (You’d have to to afford your investment). I bet a ton of you are airbrushing natural blemishes off of nude models. Hail the pirates! Photoshop should be handed out like crayons to increase the collective creative potential. Point is, I am 60% more interested in what the thieves create with it than the professionals. PirArt.

  6. PamL

    Would your positive view of software piracy change if you were an employee of Adobe? How about a shareholder? Or an employee of a firm that supplied raw materials to Adobe? I don’t fit into any of those categories, but I am another key stakeholder: a legal user of their software.

    You’ve probably guessed that I have absolutely no patience for software pirates and their rationalizations. Theft is theft, whether it’s a material product, an idea, or a piece of software.

  7. Realist

    The first Adobe software I used was pirated optained through my daughter’s friend’s brother. My daughter had a 3 megapixel canon camera. I used it to crop images and adjust size and colour. I also made a diagram of a tree of world languages for my History of English class. For a couple of years I played with it a bit. I glanced at other programs, like GIMP, but liked PS better. Given that I am in my last year of university I bought the web suite. I never would have done so had I not tried the pirated copy. I never would have bought had I not had access to student pricing. I bought it as a personal toy during retirement. Part of the reason I prefer it is the wealth of information available on how to use it. Because I am just playing the tutorials and tips are fun to explore. When I want to do something specific I can usually find excellent instructions on how to accomplish it.

    Another poster mentioned many open source and inexpensive solutions for various parts of the Adobe system but that also requires learning a lot of new interfaces.

    I don’t consider it my moral duty or responsibility to “help develop” less expensive or free software. That’s a personal choice not a moral imperative. Likewise, there is some debate concerning intellectual property rights and how closely they can be compared to physical property rights. Patents run out on medicines. Books become public ownership I think 50 years after the death of the author? The details don’t matter. The point is that it is our politicians who decide what the rules are, supposedly on our behalf. Should it be possible to patent living things? Genetically altered life?

    As to the theory that those who pay are paying for those who don’t, hogwash. If all piracy stopped tomorrow Adobe would not lower the price. They charge what the market can bear.

  8. Luiz Eduardo

    Well I have an original copy of photohsop on my desktop I use to do my job but before starting working I used to use a pirate version cuz the price of the authorization of the original photoshop is the biggest abuse of price. Who would pay 700 dollars for a single program? or 2500 for the criative pack. Adobe is a funny jope when we talk about prices so I think they deserve having their programs copied to learn about peoples money ans till they understand people wwont pay that much for an sofware they will keep having this problem.

  9. Don

    It is not that surprising to see that astronomically priced software is copied and used for home use. Who has that amount of money these days? As a struggling web designer, I try to use what ever free apps that will do the job. GIMP is great, but it is NOT Photoshop.

    In my case I bought Photoshop many versions back (pre-CS) and paid the top dollar for it. Then the unspeakable happened and my original copy was destroyed and my hard drive crashed! I called Adobe to ask them for replacement copies since I paid and REGISTERED the software only to be told “We are sorry that happened. We do not keep your serial number on file and your registration information is not stored in a database. So go and pay for the current version all over again!”

    Back in the days of PS5, 6, 7 I did pay! Each and every time and CS was just being announced. So I bought a copy at a secondhand software store. So now I had my copy for less than $50 but the serial number was not in the box! I had the license agreement and an empty registration card with no serial number. What else can you do? I found a serial number on the web. And since Adobe had my registration info but did not care to even look it up, that is when they slapped me in the face to say “Pay High for what we want you to have and too bad for you sucker if you believed we are here to help you! All we want is to empty your wallet!”

    After paying thousands of dollars on software when I could afford it, even then I said “Never again!”

    I do not register software anymore! All software companies treat you about the same. I think it is because they believe and know you are going to steal from them. When in reality, they are stealing from the very users that support them.

    So I wave the banner of Open Source! But if I need more than what it can do, I would have no problem paying for software and registering it, if that protects me. I bought and paid for the license to install and use the software. I would not even mind if they charged me a small fee for sending replacement CDs. I believe it would be better for Customer Service to just give you a temporary link to re-download it. And email you your serial number. And upgrades should not cost half an arm and a foot either. And most companies have an “Enterprise” or “Corporate” version that they charge big money for. If I need the corporate version, and I own a large business, no problem! But as a personal/home user that buys software, I want to know that my significant investment is protected. Not treated as “So sad too bad for you!” attitude. That makes me mad and I feel taken advantage of! So I will just download it and find a serial number! I say “DOWN with High priced software!” But YOU Adobe have thrown the gauntlet down to turn me into Captain Jack of software. And I despise you for it!

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