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Comments on “Why Not to Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon Mkt”, Page 1

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  1. It is actually possible to buy Adobe software legally thru eBay. I have done it. Adobe have a form on their website for transfer of ownership. If the seller can prove they own a serial number eg. from the box you get them to sign the form, send it to Adobe, and the license is yours to upgrade or whatever.

    • Thanks for your comment Gary, but actually that doesn’t work any longer …

      Adobe made a change earlier this year to clamp down on transferring illegal and pirated copies of their products, so if you read the current instructions on how to transfer Adobe software you’ll see that auction and vendor sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace are specifically excluded.

      As referenced above, at least 90% of the software sold on eBay is reportedly pirated, counterfeit, and/or hacked, and it’s been that way for a while.

  2. victoria

    This is true. It happened to me. I bought on eBay, tried to register and it was a phony ID number. Tried to contact the seller and he said he forgot to add certain instructions…they were as fake as he was. I never recouped my money. The seller disappeared from site.

    Buyer BEWARE!!! When I am able to afford the real thing, I know where to get it from.

  3. Rob

    I once purchased a “new in box / shrinkwrapped” copy of Adobe Premiere on eBay. I got a CD-R with all Adobe apps and a print-out with serial numbers. I reported the seller (who had excellent feedback) and he was later convicted of mail fraud. Buyer beware.

  4. LadyJane

    Not true. Perhaps there are some unscrupulous sellers out there, but I bought my Adobe CS3 from E-bay, called Adobe themselves and they confirmed that it indeed was legal and allowed me a year later to purchase CS5 using the upgrade pricing. Adobe even confirmed to me that if people wish to sell their copies of the software and as long as they had deactivated it from their computers, it was completely legal to do so. I’ve gotten technical support on my CS3 when I needed to reset it due to an internal error.

    I called and asked Adobe tons of questions when I bought my CS3, and they pretty much said they had no problems with people selling their software on e-bay. I registered mine with no problems, still get automatic updates. These are even installed on separate computers since CS5 required Windows 7 for InDesign and Premiere which I needed at the time of purchase. SO even that wasn’t an issue.

    As long as those selling the software de-activate their product before selling it on e-bay and make sure that any new product hasn’t been tampered with, Adobe doesn’t have an issue with it. They do advise that you call them to make sure the serial number has been de-activated or has not been used previously first.

    It’s not all that rare either. People complain more about the bad software then they would praise the legal ones which will lead to inaccurate percentage of legal vs. illegal copies. It’s always best to read a seller’s feedback before buying software from them to ensure you’re not being ripped off.

    • Hi Jane, thanks for your comments. We can assure you the article is carefully researched and all of it is true. You were lucky it worked out for you back then, but there have been some changes recently in Adobe policy as indicated in the prior response…

      So you may not have heard yet, but you can no longer legally or officially transfer Adobe software that is bought or sold on these sites – Adobe changed the rules earlier this year to protect themselves and customers because the overwhelming majority of what is sold on these venues is not legal, genuine, and/or safe.

      In other words, because of the rampant counterfeits, Adobe now considers these purchases invalid

      And this means all such buyers are being denied by new policy.

      In any event, just because a small percentage of people have previously been lucky enough to make it across a minefield, wouldn’t make it a good idea.

  5. Todd

    I just bought CS4 off ebay and Adobe would not let me register it. I was lucky enough to have a seller that reimbursed all money, but I have to believe that’s pretty rare.

    I got an email in August for an opportunity to upgrade from PSE9 to Photoshop CS5 for $299 but was unable to take advantage of the offer. Now I’m stuck with PSE9 because Adobe will only let you upgrade from PSE8 or lower. I’d love to be able to fork out the cash for CS5 full, but don’t think that’s coming soon. Need a new lens pretty badly. So I’m really thinking about walking away from Adobe.

  6. I’m a developer, not a lawyer, but it seems the term “legally” is being used rather loosely is this post. Adobe merely changed their policy, but it would take a court decision to determine if buying/selling on eBay is indeed, illegal (meaning a crime has been committed). So to me, this post gets a FUD tag.

    That said, for the past two years I have purchased all my Adobe software directly through the Adobe website. I buy Flash Builder the day it comes out. I wait for a 10% or 20% off coupon to upgrade the whole Master Collection. I did buy CS3 and CS4 on eBay and had no problems registering. I once sold a sealed copy of Flash Builder that I won in a contest, because I already had the software.

    • Not at all Jamie, because those aren’t our words – they come from the SIIA: “As this prosecution demonstrates, it is both a crime to create counterfeit software and a crime to sell authentic software without authorization.”

      The SIIA is the Software & Information Industry Association, the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries.

      They’re also Adobe’s words: “[this] ensures that Adobe recognizes the new owner as the legal licensee who can receive customer service and support.”

      In any event, most people would think it’s important to be the legal owner of something they (thought they had) purchased… Being able to prove you’re the legal owner of a product that you paid money for is a separate issue than any crime being committed though.

      But since 90% of the software peddled on eBay is fake, there is definitely a lot of criminal activity going on regardless. And it’s a certainty that “the only legitimate way to purchase Adobe software for download is through the Adobe Store – so anywhere else would also be against the law.

      Hope this helps clarify the term and where it comes from, and why.

  7. T. Rothschild

    Adobe is simply trying to boost their profits. I’m an owner of CS 5.5 Master and I may not be upgrading any more after I upgraded to 5.5. I’m an amateur photographer and with Adobe’s new policy going to version CS 6 requiring me to upgrade every single upgrade cycle or go to the cloud version which is $149/month is beyond most amateur’s means. I’ve used Photoshop since the beginning, but I will seriously looking at my options at this point. I’m truly disappointed with Adobe.

    • Well, we would acknowledge there’s been a good deal of customer disapproval on Adobe’s recent changes to their business model and upgrades (see our poll on that topic) – but on this particular issue regarding trying to find legitimate software on the gray market, it’s much more about not legitimizing what is highly likely to be bad or fake copies of their products…

      Since Adobe can’t shut eBay down and can’t stop all the illegal or scam operators, what the company has done is change their policy to avoid supporting those venues in order to protect themselves and customers.

      Put another way, say for example you were a business owner who discovered that a particular store in the next town was selling 90% unsafe or illegal ripoffs of your own product, what would you say or do when customers came in or called you about those?

  8. Dan

    90% on eBay and others is counterfeit?
    How many did you check out and test to come up with this figure?
    The last versions of Adobe products I got through these venues and they were legal and able to be registered. Only real problem I had was in buying Photoshop directly from Adobe and took five tries to get it registered by calling as had no internet access where we lived at the time.

  9. Crushtone

    I purchased Photoshop Elements 2.0 from Micro Center. I still have the box and all paperwork but have misplaced my CD. I reinstalled the operating system on my computer and now have no way to get PE back unless I find my CD. Since I registered PE right after I purchased it, I assumed wrongly that I would be able to contact Adobe and retrieve a replacement CD, maybe at a small charge of some kind, or perhaps DL the software from them. Yes they had my information registering the software, but will not replace the software or even give me my key. So who cares if I can’t get support from Adobe, as I am unable to get it for the license I legally purchased.

    Am I wrong to feel that Adobe’s policy in this matter is predatory? I was a loyal Adobe customer that would pay for their products when many I know of don’t. I was given a full blown CS4 by someone and refuse to use it because I will not steal. There is something else I will not do now; purchase new Adobe software again. Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I paid for was a product license that never expires. I properly registered it for what? So they could get my information I suppose. It certainly didn’t help me in any way.

    Adobe has very nice products, but because their support policies are greed-driven in my opinion, I will find alternatives if possible from now on.

  10. Crushtone
    • Greetings, sorry for your loss. If you’d had a newer version of Photoshop Elements we might have been able to help… We keep direct download links to a lot of older versions of Adobe software.

      But PSE 2 is quite old (nearly 10 years old now), so it’s not so surprising you’d find it challenging to locate another copy. If Adobe has a copy available anywhere, we’ve never heard or seen anything about it.

      And in our experience they generally don’t provide backups for lost products – they presume the customer will manage that sort of thing. For better or worse, they take the approach of the sellers of physical products whereby you wouldn’t expect the manufacturer of something like your cellphone to replace it if you ever lost it.

      Whether that’s something everyone likes or agrees on is open to debate, but in any event Adobe is definitely not alone in the software industry with that policy.

      Anyway, one piece of good news is you should still be eligible for the discounted upgrade pricing to Photoshop Elements 10, if you so decided along that path. Arguably, PSE 10 is a significantly better and more powerful version of Photoshop to have and to use.

      Good luck and apologies again we couldn’t help more.

  11. T. Rothschild

    You know what is pathetic, Adobe, hiding behind the “its not us, it’s the SIIA”. Adobe is a member of SIIA. So now Adobe has changed the rules. I can’t sell my software license for CS5.5 Master on Craigslist or EBay and I can’t upgrade a single product out of the suite (read the license). And since I’m not an authorized reseller, I would probably be breaking the law selling it via the newspaper. This means the money I’ve invested is down the drain. The good thing is, I have not opened my CS5.5 Master Collection so I can return it and use my CS4 Master Collection until I can find alternative software. Adobe, I’m extremely disappointed with this Netflix-like decision. But hey, on the other hand, it will save me a lot of money from now on. Plus I’ll have the almost $800 I spent on the CS5.5 upgrade in my pocket. I might have to use that to buy some Adobe shorts from my broker.

    • T. – not sure we understand. Why is your investment in the products down the drain? Didn’t you buy them to use them? Why would you want to sell them, especially the new version of CS5.5 you only just purchased?

      Note that you cannot sell your prior versions after you upgrade from them; this has always been disallowed in any event…

      In other words, it’s always been the policy that you can’t try to sell off your CS4 suite after you’ve used it to get Adobe’s discounted upgrade pricing to CS5.5, if that’s what you were thinking.

  12. T. Rothschild

    I have not opened nor installed the CS5.5 upgrade package and therefore not used the CS4 Master serial number as a base for the upgrade. The registration process is what invalidates the sale, but with Adobe’s/SIIA resale policy, reselling my license is nearly impossible. Of course, who knows, maybe they made returning software that you haven’t installed illegal. With Adobe’s idiotic new rules I want to dump all their software. I’m extremely disappointed with their decision. Like I said, I will evaluate my options.

    • Thanks, but then we’re still not sure what exactly you’d want to sell, or why… since you just bought the new CS5.5 version.

      Adobe does have a existing return policy if you need it, but it must be also that you no longer want or need to use the actual product itself.

      Generally speaking we can see both sides of the argument – Adobe is trying to protect their business and customers from rampant fraud and malware on these venues, while users are unhappy because they thought they could save money when they took chances there – though overwhelmingly the numbers are against authenticity or safety. It’s a thorny and difficult issue.

  13. T. Rothschild

    I can still use the CS4 Master version I own and find non-Adobe options for the programs I need. I’m in no rush, especially with the new pricing policy. Once I’m off the upgrade carousel, I can maybe buy the apps I need every 4 or 5 years if I don’t find alternatives in the meantime. I suspect a lot of folks will implement the same upgrade policy. The upgrades will get farther apart or non-existent if they only need one or two applications. Adobe makes good products. But the product and the price has to make sense or users will make due without. I suspect many companies will revert back to a shared workstation for certain employees if the software gets too expensive.

  14. Helmut Selzter

    Having been a loyal and satisified customer for 15 or so years, and now seeing further restrictions with what seems to be a tighter rein on what can done to crossgrade, sidegrade but not etc,etc. Now ever-lower-priced sources (eBay, Craigs, etc) are being essentially prohibited. The buyers can’t register, may be picked up for receipt of stolen property.

    Sorry my laptop battery is dying. Have to hurry up… Look in Open Source groups – like Drupal 7, or Joomla. These sites just might make Adobe early morning business meetings less boring for those deidicated to market control.

    • Hey there Helmut, thanks for your thoughts. The challenge is that the reason those sources have become “ever-lower-priced” is because most of what’s on there is ripped off! Otherwise, there’s no way to explain it – because Adobe themselves have not lowered prices on their product line…

      In other words, the only way anyone could ever get what they think is CS5.5 Master Collection for (say) $500 instead of $2599 is if it’s a mocked-up fake. You’d be amazed at how close to reality they can manage to make these counterfeits now, even if the software doesn’t work or is secretly backdoored.

      Other popular scam schemes are selling hacked Adobe trial software on eBay that’s boxed to look like real, but the buyer doesn’t find out for 30 days that it’s not a permanent product (by which time the seller is long gone), as well as trying to pass off discounted Adobe student editions as full commercial versions but they are completely non-transferrable.

      The other trend growing every year is the prevalence of viruses, spyware, and other weaknesses in pirated and torrented software – a vulnerability rate up to over 40%(!) now based on recent data.

      So bottom line, those “lower prices” are that way for a reason – you are giving up your safety and security – and not worth the huge risks.

  15. Wojtek

    Hi,

    I was searching for Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium 5.5. vs. CS5 and found this website. I like Adobe products. I still use CS4, but would love to buy CS5.5.

    I found on eBay what looks like a guy selling real Adobe products for half the price that Adobe wants.

    Please check this out and let me know. I will be happy to push the “Buy Now” button, if it is confirmed legal.

    ‹link›

    Thank you

    • Welcome Wojtek. Here’s a question for you: how do you think anyone on eBay can sell those “products” for half their normal price? Adobe does not ever sell them for anywhere near that discount… Not even Amazon.com can get them wholesale for anything close to that price.

      You already know from reading the coverage above that the counterfeits now can be deceptively real-looking. They’ve gotten very good at making them look genuine. And this is no exception.

      So on the listing you asked about? The answer is it’s fake. And ironically, eBay’s policies actually encourage selling bogus products! You simply have to stay away, because after pressing the “Buy Now” button (as you say), it’s too late.

      BTW, having a “too good to be true” low price is one sign of a ripoff. But now, that’s not enough – because some scammers have been catching on and raising the prices on their listings just enough to make it seem more believ­able… So the end result is then worse than before: you lose more and they get more.

      The only solution is to avoid these places.

  16. Anderson

    You would normally consider Amazon.com a legit reseller, wouldn’t you. I know of one person who purchased Photoshop from a private seller on Amazon. She installed and registered the program through Adobe, everything seemed to go fine. 9 months later, she decided to sell it and contacted Adobe to find out how to transfer ownership. Adobe told her the program was a pirate copy and neither Adobe or Amazon would do a single thing about it since it was 9 months ago. This woman bought the program in good faith, paid good money for it, used it for 9 months and then she finds out it is a pirate copy. At that point she had an awakening and realized there was some the odd behaviour of her computer that started about the same time as she installed the Photoshop. She eventually had to wipe her computer completely and is still not sure all of what data she lost. You really have to watch out.

  17. Betty

    Two questions guys.

    Would Amazon be considered a legitimate seller of the software as long as the software comes from Amazon and not a private seller?

    Is there any way for me to check the validity of my serial without getting myself in trouble?

    I ask because I recently bought a computer on ebay, and the seller was including the Adobe Master Collection already installed. Based on the ‘reinstall’ instructions he provided, I’m almost certain it’s a hack. I haven’t attempted to register the serial yet, but I’m nervous about doing so because I don’t want to get in trouble myself. I’ve already contacted the seller about returning the thing (no response yet).

    • Hi Betty, those are good questions. If you’re 100% certain that the product is both sold by and fulfilled by Amazon.com itself – and not any private or third-party seller using Amazon as a venue – then it should be safe and ok. The problem and risk really come if/when you’re dealing with some seller behind the scenes who you’ve never heard of and is not authorized, no matter what their feedback rating or rank is. If you’re going to not get it direct from Adobe for some reason, then you have to stick to Adobe’s Authorized Resellers.

      On your second question: You could try to contact Adobe and see if they’ll verify the serial number, but if a computer you bought has what you believe to be a hacked or cracked version of any Adobe software on it – if you can’t get proof positive from the seller that it’s genuine and authentic – you should return the computer and not put any of your data or information on it.

      Best of luck!

  18. Betty

    Because his listing says “no returns”, he doesn’t want to take the thing back, and I’ve asked him very specific questions about the legitimacy of the software, and he’s tried to talk his way around them. I did as you suggested and through Livechat asked Adobe to check the serial. Surprise, surprise! It’s invalid. Printed the chat so I have proof to show ebay.

  19. MDS

    Some of the pirated versions have a hacked activation and registration system that makes it look like it is being activated or registered with Adobe when it isn’t. If you use the Adobe registration system, you will get a confirmation screen that says there will be a followup email with a free bonus (font or training video) — although the email sometimes comes months later. Meaning, it’s hard for the user to tell what’s actually going on, until a problem occurs.

  20. Cindy

    So I just want to clarify.. is it safe to say that purchasing from Amazon.com itself (it says “ships from and sold by Amazon.com“) I would be purchasing a legitimate copy, even though Adobe does not list it as an authorized reseller?

    There are other merchants on Amazon that are listed as also selling the product, but I am referring to the one that is ships/sold by Amazon.com. Thanks.

    • Greetings Cindy, you’re right – Amazon.com is not shown in the list of Adobe’s official/authorized resellers, perhaps for this exact reason… People think they’re buying from Amazon but too often it’s coming from some separate third party, and Amazon is happy to take the commission so they do not make this as plain or obvious as it should be. So if you’re buying software that is not both sold directly by and ships directly from Amazon.com, then it’s a problem.

      Be aware that Best Buy also has an online ‘Marketplace’ and is another one to stay away from.

  21. George

    ProDesignTools :

    Not at all Jamie, because those aren’t our words – they come from 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 if I were to buy a copy then decide to sell it, I would be a criminal? Get real

  22. Ebay, however, is in the least trying to help stop bad sellers, and they are proactive. They warn people and modify policies to keep the business going since this seems to demonize ebay and amazon, making them seem like bad places, though it’s clear you shouldn’t buy software there. I’m sure if adobe and ebay CAN work it out in order to inform sellers of this and even penalize them if they try to re-sell a copy.

    I know the whole piracy thing is destroying the market but maybe if adobe sold older copies of the products available for download, I mean yes if you want it you should pay for it, I forked over a good sum to adobe for my PS cs2 and sadly it was a few days later that cs3 came out, I got it from officemax the day taxes went up.

    I wanna get a copy of standalone flash 8 which is the most stable when exporting to avi, the export problem still persists as I’ve seen in forums and even in purchased legal copies I got no downloads to patch it up >.< and customer support in adobe was rude to me when I activated my ps cs2 after my laptop had died and I had to reinstall it. see if you want better business, you can't just overprice and or come off aggressive, looks bad then folks end up getting open source gimp or even openlazlo for the same effect. They are more complicated at times but people create equal quality artwork. I still hope to save up and get flash (I won't go over to a newer photoshop, I can't afford it at the moment plus it works fine) since I used most in the marketing companies I worked in on years past. The slow economy is bad enough, but pirates are a product of overpricing and at times bad business practices. I dunno if CS5 fixed the bugs plaguing the other software but in any case there is nothing that can't be worked out between adobe and the companies. I can't speak for my amazon experience which is shady imo.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Ben. We wish what you say were true, but in fact eBay’s policies in this area actively encourage software scams like those described above… And there’s really very little recourse for the buyer to get that properly and safely addressed. So there’s actually a long way to go on eBay’s end before this kind of problem is ever solved. But we agree on your conclusion that it’s clear you shouldn’t buy software there.

      Sorry if you purchased an older release the week before a new version came out… What Adobe typically does in this case is offers a grace period for a free upgrade to the newer software, but it may not have been something you knew about at the time.

      They do also have a 30-day Refund & Return Policy, although naturally it doesn’t apply for anything bought at the venues mentioned here like eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon Marketplace, and other unauthorized places.

  23. Bobby Blu-ray

    There’s a quick way to determine if Adobe software bought on eBay is legitimate: attempt to register it on Adobe’s site. If a serial numbers is legitimate, your registration request will bring immediate feedback either in the form of approval if it is unregistered or an error message stating that the numbers are registered if it is in use.

    I tried reporting a counterfeit software seller to Adobe, but they wanted me to send them the counterfeit copy and get a refund through eBay or PayPal. In the end, I took the (by now panicky) seller up on his refund offer and sent it back.

    • Hello Bobby, registration sometimes helps but hackers have ways to generate and sell serial numbers that seem genuine but aren’t… What’s more, by the time you try to register, you have already put the seller’s disc on your computer and the seller already has your money. Since over 90% of what’s sold on eBay is fake, and more than 40% of counterfeit disks contain additional binaries with “known vulnerabilities,” why would you want to take that chance?

      Then there would be the issue of trying to get your payment back. As detailed in the previous comment, eBay is not interested in getting rid of the scams. Adobe requested your counterfeit copy but if you sent it to them, then the seller (if you can still find or contact them) won’t give you a refund. So you quietly sent it back to the seller and nothing was fixed, he just moved on trying to push it to the next guy. You personally were lucky in this case, but the problem remains unsolved.

  24. John Conner

    This article is nothing but a bunch of nonsensical fear mongering babble. Anyone can sell their legitimate software through any venue they please, and it would be 10000000% legal.

    As long as what you buy actually has a proof of purchase card included, that’s all that matters.

    • Hi John, thank you for your thoughtful comments and sorry if the article wasn’t clearer for you. No one is saying you don’t have the right to try to sell your used Adobe software on eBay. What we’re saying is that with the vast majority of items being counterfeit, it’s not a good idea to try to buy Adobe software on eBay… The number of bogus copies simply overwhelms any legitimate versions that are out there.

      Also you may not have realized, but there is no such thing as a “proof of purchase card” included in any Adobe product… The packaging and discs are very easily and often faked though, so it may not even matter.

      Lastly, on being legal or legitimate – Adobe clearly says transactions on eBay, Amazon Marketplace, etc. are invalid for proof of purchase – and that is incontrovertible.

      But don’t take our word for it – feel free to do the research and factfinding yourself if you want to learn more about the problem. Bottom line, these places are little more than free-for-all bazaars, and are best avoided.

  25. lou liz wells

    Hey All,

    I agree and wish I had known this sooner – please don’t risk buying Adobe software from ebay – I got caught big time, lost my money (as paypal wouldn’t take responsibility and neither would visa) and had to buy the real software from the Adobe shop anyway!

    The site I used looked genuine, they had loads of software on offer and had what seemed like genuine reasons for selling at a good price. They also claimed to be authorised sellers guaranteeing genuine sealed discs and product codes. I thought that such a huge, professional looking site couldn’t possibly be pirate…how wrong could I be!?!

    My only hope now is that as I gave the details to Adobe, the people behind the site will be prosecuted – I really don’t want anyone else to lose out in the way that I did. Don’t think that you’re protected even if you’re using paypal and visa – you’re not!

    Happy photoshopping!

    • Very sorry to hear that Lou, that’s an unhappy outcome but thank you for sharing your experience. Some of the counterfeits have gotten remarkably real-looking, even being shrinkwrapped with printed materials inside. The hologram labels on the disc or box can even be reproduced. Some of these ripoffs have actually fooled the buyers for retail or online outlets… there was a report not so long ago where fake software was being sold by a legitimate store because their wholesale buyer got “stung.”

      Bottom line, you really have to be careful and only buy directly from companies you already know and trust. Wishing you better experiences ahead!

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