[IMPORTANT NOTE – Adobe stopped selling CS6 entirely several years ago – here’s why… So the CS products are not 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, or an illegal black or “gray market” import.
But it’s actually not a very good idea at all. Why?
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.
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.
And the buyer may not find out right away. Unfortunately, a serial number may be blocked or revoked at some point later when re-activating or reinstalling Adobe software in the future. And then it’s too late.
Adobe clearly 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.” For their mainline product, Creative Cloud, the software itself is non-transferable, thus it is never validly sold on eBay. Further, there is no such thing as an “OEM” version of it.
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.
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 unlawful 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” … “Warning: The Pirate Bay currently has countless viruses disguised as downloads” … “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 $20 complete Creative Cloud are exceptions to this)
So what’s your best bet?
The only safe and legal place to instantly download any of these products (either trial or full versions) is directly from Adobe’s servers.
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 2022 release — which is guaranteed to be the genuine article.
- The 10 most common myths about Creative Cloud
- What are the differences between Adobe CC vs. CS6?
- Download free Adobe books (choose over 30 titles)
- How to save 60% with the Student & Teacher Editions
- Free Adobe Stock! Download 1,000,000+ top images
- Don’t need full Cloud? Get PS + LR for $9.99/month
Keep up with the latest on Adobe software — follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to our RSS feed… You can also enter your email and have new articles sent directly to your Inbox. We are reader-supported; when you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.