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Adobe wants to use your work to train its AI, and everyone is mad about it

Photoshop logo on a laptop

TL; DR

  • Adobe’s recent terms update could give the company access to user content through Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop.
  • Users fear their work could be used to train Adobe’s generative AI products.
  • The changes came to light after a pop-up blocked paying users from accessing Adobe’s apps until they accepted the updated terms.

Users of Photoshop, Illustrator and other Adobe Creative Cloud applications are in an uproar after noticing recent changes to the company’s terms of use. The updated terms give Adobe the right to access User Content “through both automated and manual methods.”

While a recent update pop-up in Adobe apps suggested that the company would access user content for “content review,” the full terms also note that the company “may use techniques such as machine learning to improve our services and software.”

Adobe launched a series of generative AI products last year, including Photoshop’s Genative Fill, which rivals Midjourney and DALL-E. And in response to OpenAI’s Sora video generator, the company also added AI-powered video editing features to its Premiere Pro app in April. According to Adobe, the first Firefly model was trained using the company’s stock photo library and other media available in the public domain.

Given Adobe’s recent push into generative AI, many suspect the updated terms will allow the company to use high-quality, user-generated content to train future AI models. Since many users rely on Adobe’s apps for professional work, this can also cause unintentional violations of confidentiality agreements.

Adobe’s full terms of use page indicates that the document was last updated in February 2024. However, the update largely flew under the radar until Adobe apps recently started showing popups to notify users of the changes. The update has led to many reactions, including from director Duncan Jones.

Another part of the same document also grants Adobe a “non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free sublicensable license to use, reproduce, publicly display, distribute, modify, create derivative works based on, publicly perform and translate the Content.” ”

Many users have pointed out that this section grants the company a very wide range of rights to user-generated content. Adobe says it will use this right “solely for the purpose of operating or improving the Services and Software.” However, the language seems deliberately vague and gives users little control over how their content is used or shared with third parties.

The outrage over Adobe’s updated terms stems from the fact that the company doesn’t offer its apps like Photoshop as a one-time purchase. Instead, users must pay for a monthly license, which keeps them tied to Adobe and its regular features and legal updates.

A separate FAQ page about content analysis on Adobe’s website suggests that the company “does not analyze content processed or stored locally on your device.” However, Adobe’s subscription plans include 100 GB of cloud storage. And while it offers an opt-out switch, Adobe can still access data under “certain limited circumstances.” Many also argue that content analysis should be opt-in instead.

Adobe isn’t the only company currently dealing with generative AI and privacy-related controversies. Microsoft’s upcoming Recall AI feature has been criticized by cybersecurity experts for potentially exposing sensitive data such as passwords.

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