Photoshop of Horrors

Over the past few weeks, complaints about Adobe’s new policy terms have exploded online, with many users of Photoshop and other Adobe tools saying the revised terms (specifically Adobe’s access to users’ content as well as granting Adobe a license to users’ content) which were rolled out back in February but brought to users attention due to a mandatory “re-acceptance” prompt in the software earlier this month, are unfair and intrusive. 

Image created by MS Designer (Who, by doing so, has been granted a license to copy, distribute, publicly display and perform, edit and reproduce it)

As someone who has reviewed the policies of quite a few companies (over 80 recently) and as some helpful folks were suggesting other related services to use instead, I decided to examine these other suggested brand’s policies as well for similar behaviors.  This independent review is not specifically related to the framework we routinely test products against at Consumer Reports. 

I regret to inform you – the others are not much better.

The new Adobe TOS gives the company the right to access user content stored on Adobe’s servers, and to actually use that content in a number of ways that are both broadly and vaguely described (The terms have since been updated to include more detail).

Unfortunately, neither of those ideas is unusual, especially in the IoT world. As a general rule, you should be aware of what you are agreeing to. Also, be aware that these terms can change after you’ve used the product or paid for it, at the whim of the service provider, and without direct notice.

To get a sense of how Adobe Photoshop’s TOS compares to similar products, I peeked into the TOS of 5 competitors (Affinity, Canva, Corel, Skylum Luminar, Photopea), looking for specific references to things like:

    1. Reserving the right to edit or modify user content.
    2. Requiring licensing rights to user content in order to use the product or service.

Please note that while I have included the links to the policies and the quotes from those policies, as I mentioned before, the verbiage, policies, and even the links can change at any time.

Details of the Adobe Policy 

I started by looking at Adobe’s policies where I found the following:

“Solely for the purposes of operating or improving the Services and Software, you grant us 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. 4.3 Ownership. As between you and Adobe, you (as a Business User or a Personal User, as applicable) retain all rights and ownership of your Content.” –

This wording has since changed to include a summary, clarifications, and examples regarding the licenses to user content. It now specifically says that it does not give permission to train generative AI with user content, nor will they sublicense the content to anyone else to do so. They also now claim to not use any user content to market or promote Adobe, and more. The updated terms regarding licensing are now found in Section 4.3.  

What the Affinity Policy Says  

Affinity was a service that came up quite a bit. On looking at their website, I almost immediately found the following:

“Serif reserves the right to close accounts and remove or edit content if deemed necessary.”

Unfortunately there is not a lot of clarity on what type of content they reserve the right to remove or edit, or what would constitute “necessary” to do so. 

A Look at the Canva Policy  

Canva was another brand mentioned by a colleague. 

Canva clearly states that users grant Canva a royalty-free and sublicensable license to display, host, copy, store and use the User Content to the extent necessary to provide the Service as per the following:

You grant Canva a royalty-free and sublicensable license to display, host, copy, store and use your User Content solely to the extent necessary to provide the Service to you. To the extent you include User Content in a Design that you’ve shared with others, you grant Canva a perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, license to display, host, copy, store and use your User Content to the extent necessary to continue to make that Design available.”

I’d personally like to see a clear definition on what they define “use” to include. 

A Look at the Corel Policy

Corel is another piece of graphics processing software.

I was unable to find any references to requiring licensing rights in the documents I reviewed.  

I did find the following, suggesting that a user has sole access/control over their content:

“If you have registered Your Account with us as a corporate/business user then: (a) we may allow the business who controls the account to access, use, remove, retain and control Your Account and all content uploaded or imported to Your Account; (b) we may provide your personal information to the business who controls the account. As a user of a business account, you may have different agreements with or obligations to the business who controls the account, which may affect Your Account or your content. If you are a personal user, we will treat Your Account as a personal one meaning that you will maintain sole access and control over all content in Your Account.”

A Look at the Skylum Luminar Policy 

Luminar is from another brand, Skylum, that offers several image editing software tools.

The documents I reviewed say that they reserve the right to withhold, remove, edit and or discard any material at any time. Additionally, they also mention that if a user submits any materials to Skylum or to the Website, Skylum has the right to modify, display, perform, distribute, translate, create derivative works from, monetize and otherwise fully exploit any such Materials in any manner determined by them as seen in the citation below:

“We reserve the right to withhold, remove, edit and or discard any such material at any time. If, however, you choose to submit any Materials to Skylum or to the Website, or otherwise make available any Materials through the Website, you hereby grant to Skylum a perpetual, irrevocable, unlimited, transferrable, sub-licensable through multiple tiers, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to reproduce, use, modify, display, perform, distribute, translate, create derivative works from, monetize and otherwise fully exploit any such Materials in any manner determined by us.” –

“Yikes!” -Me. 

Let’s end on a high note. 

A Look at the Photopea Policy

Photopea, yet another online photo editor, ended my impromptu investigation.

Not only was I was unable to find any references to granting licensing or modification of content, it stated the following:

“The Photopea editor can be used by anyone for any purpose, for free. If Photopea allows you to do something, without asking you to pay, you can do it, and you don’t have to pay. All your work belongs to you. You can sell the work, which you made in Photopea, without giving us any share. You don’t have to mention that your work was made using Photopea.”

“Files, which you open in Photopea, are never sent anywhere, they never leave your device. They are processed completely inside your device, by your own hardware.”

“Cookies – PhotoPea Preferences – this record contains preferences of your environment (language, color theme, current foreground color, current tolerance of the Magic Wand, etc). The data in this record can not be used to identify a user.”

“If you don’t log in for more than a year, your record (all your Personal Data) will be deleted from our server. You can ask us to delete your record (all your Personal Data, that we have) immediately” – There is no direct link, citations found at > Account > Terms of Service

Take a look at the Terms of Service, Privacy and other policies of the products and services you use and you may be surprised at what you find. Have you agreed to let a company have full custody of your content? What have you agreed to?

At Consumer Reports, we give Privacy and Security assessments for a variety of products and services. As part of our audits, we look at and score the company’s public policies for factors like user data collection and sharing, usage, storage, how much control a user has over their data, the company’s commitment to notify users about changes to their policies—and much, much more.

You can check out the framework that Consumer Reports uses at We welcome your suggestions on how to improve the Standard. 

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