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Home > Tips January 30th, 2017

Why Not to Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon Mkt

[UPDATE – Adobe just stopped selling CS6 entirely – here’s why… This means the CS products are no longer being made by the company, nor legitimately for sale through any channel in any country, from any vendor or reseller.]

Some folks think it might be a good idea to try to save a few bucks and buy Adobe software off of eBay, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, or from any vendor or seller who is unfamiliar.  It could be Creative Cloud, CS6, Photoshop, Lightroom, Acrobat, Elements, or any other title – in a retail, student, full or upgrade version… or sometimes it’s the “OEM” scam, or the plausible-sounding “extra” volume/enterprise license swindle.

But it’s actually not a very good idea at all.  Why?

Why You Should Never Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon Marketplace

The first problem is that Adobe does not recognize these venues as valid or authorized resellers, they are fully disregarded and invalid. So as a result, Adobe will not officially recognize any of those buyers as actually owning their software. Yes, you read that right.

Meaning, you think you own the genuine article but effectively you don’t. You cannot provide an accepted proof of purchase – so you can’t formally prove you own the products. You may not be able to transfer the software to someone else, nor be able to get product support or upgrade to the next version, etc…  You also aren’t able to return the software to get your money back from Adobe like you normally can.

Why doesn’t Adobe recognize the people that go through those places? Doesn’t that seem unfair? Can’t these software vendors who you’ve never heard of before be trusted?

No, because in this area, reputation matters… a lot.  The simple reason is – and the real problem is – that 90% of the software sold on places like eBay is counterfeit! Yes, it’s true. And it’s not a new problem.

Adobe states, “Purchasing from known and trusted sources is the best way to avoid risks. Avoid all online auction sites — they’re rife with counterfeiters. The only safe way to purchase genuine software for download is through the Adobe Store.”

So you can be pretty sure that what someone’s getting on those auction and vendor sites is not legitimate, not able to be legally transferred, and possibly even quite unsafe.

Fake or Hacked Software –> Unsafe Computer, Loss of Money, Stolen Information, or Worse

That last part is the real kicker. A great deal of the hacked and pirated Adobe software out there now is embedded with malware. These infections include viruses, worms, and trojans that can do significant harm to your computer, personal data, and privacy (like quietly stealing your sensitive information such as logins, passwords, and credit card numbers). Or increasingly, install ransom­ware to hold your entire hard disk hostage with no fix available.

Or put another way, you dramatically “increase your risk of exposure to viruses, spyware, or adware that can destroy (or, worse, publish to criminals) valuable data.”  But unfortunately, many people don’t learn about this until it’s too late.  Often they do this unknowingly – and are essen­tially paying someone to do it to them by buying the unauthorized software.

How prevalent is malware in illegal software? Well, just one example: China reportedly has a piracy rate of 79% – and a corresponding computer infection rate of nearly 70% – both are the highest in the world. There is a direct correlation.

Yes, there can occasionally be exceptions – but there are many more headlines over the years: “Adobe Creative Suite Crack Harvests Zombie Computers”“Malware Writers Target Would-Be Pirated Software Users”“Rogue Adobe Product Downloads Infect Machines with Undetected Keylogger”“Bootlegged Mac Photoshop Delivers New Trojan Horses”

The second Trojan was discovered Sunday, hidden inside torrented copies of Adobe Systems’ Photoshop program. Once installed, the software silently lets someone else take remote control of the computer and rob the sensitive data upon it.

The risk seems obvious for older or used/secondhand copies, right?  But even advertised “new in box” (NIB) items in seemingly original packaging can easily be fake (see what the FBI says about this here) – and it’s often very difficult to tell the difference from the outside of the packaging, or even from the inside.  As Adobe says, “… it can come with sophisticated-looking cases, manuals, and even registration cards. You’ll only discover software is pirated when you try to register it and can’t, often rendering the software unusable.” Or worse.

But even if the software within is authentic, it’s still breaking the law. Per the SIIA, “As this prosecution demonstrates, it is both a crime to create counterfeit software and a crime to sell authentic software without authorization.”  So in any event, these buyers still face all the other issues above.

And if anyone ever offers a download or serial number that’s coming from anywhere else other than Adobe – it’s definitely not genuine, or legal. There are countless stolen, pirated, or limited-life serial keys out there, and even Adobe can’t tell right away. Even if a sale looks good at the beginning, such licenses are usually revoked down the road.

The old advice applies here: anything that sounds too good to be true probably is, in pricing or otherwise… (note that Adobe’s true Student & Teacher Editions at up to 70% off including the $19 complete Creative Cloud are exceptions to this)

So what’s your best bet?

Ensure your Adobe software is genuine

The only safe and legal place to instantly download any of these products (either trial or full versions) is directly from Adobe’s servers.

And only safe and legal place to buy any boxed retail software is directly from Adobe itself, or through their officially authorized resellers or retailers.

They put all this in place to protect customers – not only from harmful or counterfeit software, but also protecting your rights as a legitimate buyer and recognized licensee of the products – fully able to receive customer service, technical support, important updates, and future upgrades.

See all the recommended tips on how to avoid Adobe piracy. And if the regular product prices are out of reach for you, see if you qualify for Adobe’s deeply-discounted education versions, or check out their affordable Creative Cloud offering including the successor to Creative Suite — the new CC 2018 release — which is guaranteed to be the genuine article.


See Also

Download New Adobe CC 2018 Free Trials (Direct Links)

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  1. Duane

    My concern is that software producers are turning to ongoing licenses for everything. Those of us with limited use just want a software package we can buy and use without payment a monthly fee. I can’t justify a monthly fee at this time. We may not need the latest bells and whistles. I still use Cool Edit on an old pc for tinkering with my music files. I have adobe 1 on a newer device but I think I need v3 or newer to make it work with Windows Media Mixer apparently.

  2. Philip Bellefleur

    @Duane
    I agree with him 100%. and I have brought this complaint to Adobe myself. I was with Adobe PS from PS4 to CS5 and now I am retired I just want to “recreate pictures” and play. It seems to me that after all those years you would have more consideration for those of us who grew up with your company. I would love to have CS6 but I simply can’t afford you anymore. Philip A. Bellefleur

  3. James

    I want something to show for my money should I choose to stop making payments. I also never upgraded more than once every 3-5 years. Adobe made billions from us. What a slap in the face not to offer another purchase option.

    • Well, each to their own. Most customers don’t think $10 a month for the latest full desktop versions of both Photoshop CC + Lightroom CC (plus all related mobile apps and workflows) is too much to ask, considering that these two best-of-breed professional tools used to cost well over $1,000 upfront just to get in the door, not including upgrades! And people who previously upgraded only once every 5 years are probably not the customers Adobe targeted with the new model.

      There’s no question that some folks weren’t happy about the transition from perpetual-only to subscription-only products – but as a Pulitzer Prize winner once said, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” Adobe took a risk and it could have flopped or flown. They may have lost some customers, but at the same time gained many new ones because of the far-lower cost of entry than before.

      By virtually every measure in the industry, their transition to Creative Cloud has been widely hailed as a major success, surprising a lot of skeptics and even exceeding the company’s own original expectations. Never before (not even with CS6), have so many millions of customers upgraded and been running the same single release of Adobe software, which makes the platform all the more powerful. There are thousands of improvements and new features in CC 2017 as compared to CS6… If you haven’t missed what you don’t have yet, that’s fine – but if the latest releases can help millions of people get better work done faster, then time is money.

      Looking back to 2012, it’s clear now that Adobe didn’t do this to make anybody upset but rather made a business decision on what would be best for the future of the company and the sustainability of their franchise. The subscription model is more flexible in many ways and allows them to keep the tools current with fast-moving technology, as well as make record investments in their product line and advance the state of the art in creative software.

      Bottom line, you are quite free to stay in 2011. Sure, you can mutter darkly about how you personally don’t like the transformation but that really isn’t going to change anything. The train has left the station but of course you don’t need to be on it – it’s a personal choice whether to remain competitive as a provider of creative services or not. Either way, those CC adoption numbers are pretty impressive and pointing unambiguously to the future, and the company is clearly not looking back now.

  4. James

    @ProDesignTools
    how many subscribers will ever take or have the time to learn every single program Adobe offers? In addition to membership options, the old fashion way, or the 2011 train station options could still be offered with little effort. There are many who don’t care or need to upgrade every sixty seconds.

  5. Zulma

    @ProDesignTools
    I am one of those who do not care to be on your running train. I loved the CS6 and I would like to purchase another (new CS6) software to replace it since I lost my older one.
    I do not want to learn new features in the Creative Cloud model. I am retired and all I want is to play with the PS program and remain doing just what I liked doing by creating new images/art without having to pay a monthly fee for many new items that do not interest me.
    I would like to know just why can’t Adobe sell to us the old Photoshop CS6 software at an affordable price? You will be amazed to learn that many millions of us still want to purchase it legally.

  6. Cody R Knotts

    He’s not, you just want to make more money. The accessing the net for service and cloud functions are a pain. I have adobe premiere on an older computer and I love it. HATED using the cloud and it was so clunky and slow. Sorry but you are forcing people to find alternatives.

  7. Elizabeth

    I don’t think that Zulma is in the minority of people who are resisting the cloud. I am not for the cloud either and still use retail CS6 for mac. As a graphic designer in NYC, there is a huge community that don’t want to convert to CC. I’m not speaking of freelancers (although there is a big community that don’t) but business, agencies and city run organizations full of designers… I don’t want to name the agencies, as the one I work for is also not willing to convert. It’s been a huge disappointment for some of us to be “forced” onto the cloud as the next step. While some may not see this as being forced but as a choice to get the cloud membership, I see it as force because there is no other alternative to using adobe. Numbers may show more subscribers, but doesn’t mean all who are subscribing had another option, although some embrace the change. Those numbers don’t describe people’s opinions, like the professionals in my industry who have seen it as a red flag and there have been big discussions about it across many communities since it affects a range of designers. NYC has a large art, design…etc community and many chapters for designers to meet. I have heard this time and time again from many about the finality of having to subscribe…basically you have to commit indefinitely if you want to see your work again. There are many valid concerns and all of these meetings and discussions won’t be showing up in numbers, but this is my first hand experience.

    • Thanks for your comments Elizabeth, but regarding “if you want to see your work again,” there are unfortunately some misconceptions there as well…

      How to open your files without a CC subscription? Well, the free level of Cloud membership (which you retain permanently at no cost) will allow you to open, display, and manipulate files in some of the most common Adobe formats (types including .PSD, .AI, .INDD, etc).

      Similarly, you can use the preview and display capabilities of Adobe Bridge CC, which is free for everyone, for life.

      There also exist third-party utilities like XnView (free), which will read and write Photoshop .PSD files, and also opens Adobe Illustrator .AI files. ID Util (also free) will read and display any InDesign or InCopy file. Like Photoshop’s published .PSD format, Adobe PDF is another publicly-documented specification, and various programs can read and write those files.

      Adobe will also be resetting a new round of free CC trials at least once or twice every year that will work fully and open your files for 7 days. So if your paid membership has expired, then short-term opening or editing your files down the road could be as simple as just grabbing the latest free trial and firing it up.

      And then there’s always a Creative Cloud month-to-month membership available if you want to do more intensive work, for as long or as short as that is. You would pay only for the months you needed to.

      Bottom line, there should never a case where you are denied access to open your work or files – it’s just that it may not necessarily be 100% free guaranteed, depending on what you want to do with them. But obviously the maintenance of all professional software in working order has costs and tradeoffs, even for standalone perpetual tools.

  8. François

    I am French and I fully agree with Elizabeth’s comment. We should have been given the choice between CC and box versions… Elementary, except for big business !

    • Guys, this ship has sailed. Adobe is not going back and they’re not changing the model. Creative Cloud was launched six years ago last month – and the current offering still looks remarkably like it did back then at its introduction in November 2011. You have to hand it to the company for having a different vision and then following it through now with 12 million paid subscribers, despite skeptics. So if you’re still having this debate now, then we’re convinced it’s just barking at the moon and not going to accomplish anything.

      Some people are arguing that their overall cost of Adobe’s products may go up in the transition from perpetual licensing to subscription licensing. If that’s the point you want to make, then so be it. For others, it will go down (or already has).

      Adobe closed the last door to turning back last month when they stated there will not be a Lightroom 7 perpetual offering, and that going forward, Lightroom is available via subscription only. It’s done.

      However, note that even after a subscription has lapsed, you can still start up Lightroom CC to access your catalog and have limited use – see:

      What Happens to Lightroom After My Membership Ends?

  9. François

    If Adobe is so sure that CC is really the best choice for its customers, with 12 million paid subscribers, why don’t they offer those who would prefer CS versions (with perpetual licencing) the possibility to get them? It would be fair. Adobe would appear as a company that is client minded and respects its customers!

    • François, we tried to say this above: Sorry, but you’re wasting your breath. It’s not going to happen.

      Another reason they switched to a subscription-only model was the gain the ability to deliver significant new features on a more frequent and timely basis, to help respond to the increasingly-faster pace of technology these days (versus waiting 18-24 months between releases, which is what used to happen with the old model).

      For more details on the important factors driving this change, please see:

      Why Creative Cloud (CC) Gets Free Upgrades but Adobe CS6 Doesn’t

  10. Peter

    Of course you can buy or sell Adobe software legally (full retail versions)… See text on Adobe’s website: “If you sell or give your Adobe software to an individual or business, you can transfer the license accordingly. Transferring the license allows the new owner to register the software in their name.”

    https://helpx.adobe.com/x-productkb/policy-pricing/transfer-product-license.html

    I’m going to be selling about (30) CS6 licenses because my business closed. I was told by Adobe Support that I could… as a matter of fact, they suggested it, and then verified all my serial numbers for me. Buyers are safe from viruses because they will download the software from Adobe’s own website.

    CC is a nice product for sure… latest updates, continued support, etc. But CS6 is far from dead.

    • No one said CS6 was dead – although it is nearly six years old now and unsupported & end-of-life – and nowhere did we ever say that you can’t legally and officially transfer a valid Adobe license to another person (with due process, multiple-week waiting period and company involvement, including necessary paperwork submissions and required registrations on both ends). In fact, we even have an article about that. Still, most people aren’t aware of it.

      What we’ve said in the article above and elsewhere, and reaffirm now, is that your odds of having all that happen properly and successfully via eBay (amidst all the scams) are very slim.

      And even a supposedly-official and presumed-valid license transfer with an unfamiliar third party could easily end up with the serial number being revoked by Adobe down the road anyway… There are countless stolen, pirated, or limited-life serial keys out there, and even Adobe can’t tell right away. It happens all the time.

      As just one example, when all the computers out there get hacked, what’s one of the things first taken? That’s right, the Adobe serial numbers right off their machines… Once in, they’re very easily stolen – copied right from the System Registries or email archives. Then what happens to all those serial numbers? They’re sold on eBay and elsewhere.

  11. Anonymous

    So where can I buy a copy of Acrobat9 except on ebay?

  12. Anonymous

    So you see why I need to buy it on ebay. It has a simple feature I need that has been deleted in later versions.

  13. Anonymous

    The ability to place geo references at specific locations in a pdf document. Not just a generic single point georeference, but the corners that allow a pdf be used in gps enabled apps to geolocate within the document.

    https://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/how-create-geospatial-pdf

  14. Anonymous

    Unfortunately this feature either doesn’t work as advertised or some of the tutorial is missing. It appears to only work if you open a file that is already georeferenced.

    Two methods are given, but there is nothing to indicate how the second method is to be done. (Georegistering a PDF map or scan of geospatial data)

    The question has been asked and not answered in other help forums:

    https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1860275

    This particular thread is probably not the place to resolve this issue, but I’ve found no other help anywhere and so assumed my best bet is to just find Acrobat 9 and do it in a very simple manner.

    Thanks.

  15. Celia Murphy

    What I don’t like about Adobe CC is that I only use InDesign and Illustrator so I have to pay $40 (+tax) when the full suite is available for $50. The fact that Adobe only allows the photography portion at $10/mo. is a slap in the face to those of us who were the ones who bought the CS Master Collection because we used 2-3 pieces of the suite. I have CS6 and will keep it as long as I can. If it comes down to it, I may have to revisit Quark.

    I also don’t understand why I can’t buy a subscription card for a full year of Adobe CC unless I’m a student. After the data breach at Adobe that led to multiple fraud charges, I loath the idea of them having my credit card again.

  16. Barrie

    FYI, I just found this sad story from the Forums, with a lot of folks losing their money:

    Adobe Software Scam Alert!

  17. George

    What about this site?:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725R4K9H/

    Is that legit?

    Supposedly, the seller is ADOBE!!
    But yet, when you call Adobe, wanting to buy the regular old version of Acrobat (NOT the DC version), the kids who answer the phones know nothing about this.

    Is it a legitimate place to buy Adobe Acrobat Standard, or not?

    • Yes, that is legitimate – but no, the seller is not Adobe…

      The seller is Amazon, who is an Adobe Authorized Reseller. You absolutely need to see the “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” in the listing.

      If you do NOT see that, then the seller is an Amazon Marketplace vendor – which is what the article above is talking about. In that case, the seller could be anybody on earth (for example, “Sold by: ProgramShack”) – and means the product is almost certainly not authentic or safe or legal.

      But actually, there’s no real reason for trying to buy from Amazon anyway, as Adobe offers the same software and same prices directly from their website:

      http://www.UpgradeAcrobat.com

      In other words, you won’t find any discount on Adobe software from stores like Amazon (or Staples or Office Depot or Best Buy), even if they are legit.

  18. George

    On Amazon, the seller is always listed as a hyperlink right under the product name/description. If there is more than one, the link will say “Available from These Sellers.”
    If it was a single, third-party seller, their name would be over to the right, by the price.

    In this case, it clearly says Adobe.
    If you click on it, it takes you to another page FULL of Adobe products.

    But thank you very much for that link to Acrobat!!

    I spent an untold amount of time trying to find it on their website. Even when I found a link to Acrobat Standard or Pro (and NOT the DC version), the link would always take me to a page selling the DC version!!
    ARRRGGH.

    It was all very frustrating.

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