General Question

fundevogel's avatar

Are student software license restrictions actually enforced? How?

Asked by fundevogel (15489points) March 5th, 2009

I’m about to graduate this semester and since I’m an animation student I was seriously thinking about getting some expensive animation/production software while I can still get a good discount. But a lot of the software licenses they sell specify that they can’t be used for commercial work. Could they actually nail me for freelancing with student licensed software? How would they ever know?

I’m thinking of products along the lines of Zbrush, Maya and Adobe Creative Suite.

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15 Answers

patg7590's avatar

CS is one of the most pirated things around.
I’m guessing they could enforce it if the work is done by a company, not sure about freelance work.
wait, you’re worried about using PURCHASED software?
no, I think you’ll be alright haha

cwilbur's avatar

A lot of the way this is enforced is when a disgruntled employee complains to the Business Software Association. Then Adobe checks to see that Fundevogel Inc. has no official Creative Suite licenses (for instance), and sends a query letter.

In theory, they could nail you for freelancing with academic software. In practice, it would have to come to their attention, and they would need to have enough to gain from it to make it worth their time.

Still, the best long-term plan is to get full licensed software. At some point you’re going to need to give a demo or show someone something, and having “EDUCATIONAL COPY – NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE” show up makes a very bad impression.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Would versioning/licensing be detectable? Would it show up when a someone tried to rip your files? Posted to the web? I’m finding this really interesting. Could a file created by a student version of an application not be printable? Not be opened by a fully licensed version?

cwilbur's avatar

Oh, and something else I just thought of – doesn’t Creative Suite, version 2 or later, phone home for verification?

@AlfredaPrufrock, everything you say is plausible and possible, but it’s a question of whether Adobe gets enough return on the work to make it worthwhile.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I did a little nosing around and apparently the strategy behind student licensing is brand loyalty. You learn on Adobe products as a student, you are more likely to stay on Adobe products. You cannot resell or transfer licensing on student software. You cannot set up a business using student software on business owned machines. It’s single usage, single machine. You can upgrade as any other user, and don’t receive a student discount for upgrades.

When you are a student, you can with some exceptions, sell your artwork and keep the money. (There are a few art schools that stipulate that any work created while a student is enrolled at the school, becomes the property of the school.)

Could you have student software on a machine at home, and use it for freelance projects after graduation? Yes. Should you set up a business and use the software you acquired as a student? No. Software would be a business expense, and you should use business licensed products.

crisedwards's avatar

I worked for the largest academic software reseller in the US as a Senior Product Manager for 4 years. There is no “academic license police” force. You are agreeing to a license with restricted use and so, if any software company DID want to terminate your license, they can. I never heard of it happening after many thousands of customers purchased academic-licenses. If you violate that license, hey, it’s your own bad karma.

patg7590's avatar

@cwilbur Yes adobe products do have phone home verification

but it sucks

if you know what I mean ;-)

artificialard's avatar

Just in case there’s any confusion, Adobe’s license/copyprotection scheme is solely to prevent people from using the software without a valid license (i.e. if the person copied it from another computer or illegitimately online).

The software doesn’t at all distinguish what is being created. The only practical difference between an academic and retail license is the price.

I think as a starving student if you do need to use the software to get some paid work then do it, but if you can purchase the retail version you should do so. The idea is that on the next upgrade you’ll be buying retail anyways…

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Wait a minute…the phone home thing is that the software you purchased is still on the computer that you installed it on, and is not being used on another machine. So a software product sold to AlfredaPrufrock, student, doesn’t show up on a computer registered to AstroChuck, graphic designer. It also tracks usability through the application, to understand how a user interacts with the application, in order to make enhancements.

Are you saying that the call back feature encrypts saved files with an application ID so that when you go to use that file in a medium, someone knows whether or not you started out with a student copy or not?

Here’s a interesting thread on this.

funkdaddy's avatar

As an alternative, at least for CS, grab an unopened copy of an outdated version of the software on eBay and then upgrade to a full, wonderful, legal version you can use and upgrade for as long as you’d like.

Macromedia was a little more lenient when it came to what you could upgrade from. I bought Dreamweaver 3 on eBay for $50, upgraded that to Studio 8, then over to CS3 after Adobe took over. Check out Adobe’s upgrade eligibility to make sure you’re getting something you can upgrade from.

If you don’t use it now, it’s an idea whenever you do decide to “go legit”...

artificialard's avatar

This was addressed directly by Adobe. Yes, it’s be a tracking firm but it just collects application data in aggregate and carries no identifiable information about any individual.

The application ID (if you’re talking about type/creator) is the same for retail and academic versions, I see no difference in the practical application. No one can tell (and frankly, no one in a commercial environment) will ever care to check on something like this.

fundevogel's avatar

Thanks for all the information, it was just what I needed and I think I’ve decided to go ahead with getting the student license and just skipping the registration (which is optional and the only time adobe gathers personal information according to @artificialard‘s resources). Thanks at @crisedwards for confirmation that there are no academic license police ;)

I’m not overtly concerned about upgrading anytime soon. My copy of photoshop is 5 years and 3 versions old and I still don’t feel any particular need to update it. So long as everything works I’m good. And @cwilbur, none of the software I’m interested in watermarks or in anyway tags what you output as coming from student software. The software is completely identical to the regular version.

Just be clear I’m not starting a business or commercial enterprise, I’m just animator/artist that would like to continue making my own work, freelance, and you know, not starve. It just seems like a violation of my own creative output if Adobe has a say in what I do with the work I sweat out with their product. No paintbrush manufacturer would do that :) .

dotun_o's avatar

Specifically, Adobe student license in North America actually ALLOWS you to use their apps commercially, while in school or even after graduating. It’s not heavily publicised, but not denied either. Even the Adobe student licensing page states only the Macromedia-branded apps (i.e. pre-acquisition) cannot be used commercially.

Also, see here for definite proof:

fundevogel's avatar

Awesome. <fist pump>

dotun_o's avatar

Specifically, Adobe student license in North America actually ALLOWS you to use their apps commercially, while in school or even after graduating. It’s not heavily publicised, but not denied either. Even the Adobe student licensing page states only the Macromedia-branded apps (i.e. pre-acquisition) cannot be used commercially.

Also, see here for definite proof:

*Edit: Just more proof if you are paranoid about it like I was before I got CS3 Master (wouldn’t blame you, though):


Allows it on your personal computer only, but also for commercial work on said computer.

Now, print or PDF this info and let it be your undeniable proof (yes, i really was paranoid about it for a while LOL).

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