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

Creatives are upset after Adobe's new terms suggest their professional content could be used to improve future AI.

Published onJune 6, 2024

  • Adobe’s recent terms update could allow the company to access user content across Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop.
  • Users fear their work may 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 up in arms 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 within Adobe apps suggested that the company would access user content for “content review,” the full terms also state the company can use “techniques such as machine learning in order to improve our Services and Software.”

Adobe launched a suite of generative AI products last year, including Photoshop’s Generative Fill to rival the likes of 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 image library and other media available in the public domain.

Given Adobe’s recent push toward generative AI, many suspect the updated terms will allow the company to leverage high-quality, user-created content to train future AI models. Given that many users rely on Adobe’s apps for professional work, it could also cause inadvertent violations of confidentiality agreements.

Adobe’s full terms of use page indicates that the document was last updated in February 2024. However, the update mostly flew under the radar until Adobe apps recently began displaying pop-ups notifying users of the changes. The update has triggered widespread backlash, including from director Duncan Jones.

Another section of the same document also gives Adobe the “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 broad range of rights to user-created content. Adobe says that it will use this right “solely for the purposes of operating or improving the Services and Software.” However, the language seems intentionally 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 have to pay for a monthly license, which keeps them beholden to Adobe and its regular feature and legal updates.

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

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

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