Lightroom Now Remains Mostly Functional Even if Your License Runs Out

Adobe Lightroom 5 Screencap 1

It’s come to light that, within the latest Creative Cloud update, there is a major change in how the licensing functionality for Lightroom works. Specifically, even after your license runs out, it’s been discovered that Lightroom still continues to function — for the most part.

The crux of the matter, obviously, revolves around the phrase ‘for the most part’. According to The DAM Book, the only thing you’re unable to do once your license is up is use the sliders within the Develop module and geographically browse through your photos using the Map module.

The former is to — rather obviously — stop you from editing your images, while the latter is due to Adobe having to pay Google royalties for each use of their mapping API and not wanting to pay said royalty if the end user isn’t paying for a subscription.


Beyond those two caveats, the remainder of Lightroom functions normally, allowing you to browse through and create collections, organize your images, and export them as usual. And if you’re really looking to make the most out of the partially functioning Lightroom, the Quick Develop option within the Library module will still allow you to make certain edits.

In essence, you could go download the trial version of Lightroom, use up the trial period, and still have a much of the program’s functionality… completely free.

There’s no definitive word from Adobe on the matter, so we’ll let you take a guess in the comments as to why exactly the company decided to change its licensing structure with the release of the Creative Cloud 2014 update.

(via The Dam Book)

  • Theo Lubbe

    Except you do consistently get the newest model of car provided you continue renting it. Note; I never said you bought a car on a payments basis, only that you were renting it. So yes, I acknowledge you enter into a contact which never grants you a ‘perpetual’ license to continue using the car once x payment term has ended.

    While it would be great if Adobe said “hey, you’ve paid consistently for 3 years now, so we’re gonna grant you a perpetual license to PS CC v.1.23, but you have to pay if you want anything later…”, kind of like a cellphone contract renewal – I personally don’t see it as necessary and definitely not a requirement of them to grant this sort of option.

    You consider it a ‘scam’, I consider it great for the majority of existing and especially potential users. This doesn’t make either of us ‘right’ in our opinion on the matter, it just means we differ in how we feel about it.

  • Theo Lubbe

    Not quite “making up prices” as our shelf prices here in South Africa being ridiculous. I see now that Americans and online-purchasers got Acrobat Pro X/XI for around $450. Here in South Africa we got to pay R13,5k if we bought it via local retailers.

    And no. Paying a subscription of $10/month for PS+LR is cheaper for the majority who would actually update their copies of this software every 2-3 years anyway -like working professionals who require the latest features to improve their ability to keep up with competitors in the field- as opposed to home amateurs who can be served as well by the still-available separately-purchasable and perpentually-licensed LR5 or CS6 as they could be the latest CC releases of either.

    If you’re already on CS2-6 and are happy with what it provides over what CC provides, then why complain? Even if it launched as a standalone product at the general $740-850 standalone price, would you have gone for it with its current features? Would you have gone for it taking into account that at the current (I acknowledge this is not what CC launched at) price of $10/month -or 74-85 months before the cost of a stand-alone copy is made up for- it would cost you a pittance over simply buying the latest version for a bunch of features you might yourself have found to be inconsequential to your specific usage case?

    It’s important to keep in mind that neither you nor I constitute the majority. Yes, a lot of people are vocal in their hatred of this new CC model; but how many people are perfectly happy with it and even adore it compared to those who are against it?

    You’ll generally find people are far quicker to complain on the internet about product/service-x than they are to voice their support of product/service-x – after all, if you’re happy with it, why bother voicing your opinion as opposed to just using it?

    As for your razor analogy, in South Africa at least, buying disposable razors rapidly becomes markedly more expensive than buying a Gillette razor handle and buying disposable heads for it, as the disposable razors don’t last for nearly as many shaves and thus enter the realm of significantly-less-cost-effective quite quickly. I don’t know how relevant this is in whichever country you’re from.

  • Dov

    No I don’t consider it a scam, it is a scam as in statement of fact. Adobe calls it creative cloud which has nothing to do with cloud. If they were advertising adobe software and the the creative cloud they would almost be truthful..

    But they aren’t.

    They are selling their products the same old way via download the only difference is a new licensing policy that they are pushing as new and improved but bilks you over time. Yes the price is low up front but not in the long run.
    They are tossing in a cloud storage option that you can cheaper eslwhere.

    But hey why argue your not gone get it obviously lol

  • Theo Lubbe

    It’s ‘creative cloud’ because you can install it on any computers you want, but can only run any one program on two devices at once. All your presets and settings are, as far as I’m aware, also stored ‘in the cloud’ so that when you install any one Adobe program on any new device, it’ll download and make use of those as well.

    As such, it’s not a ‘scam’.

    You say they’re “only” tossing in a cloud storage option; so what you’re saying is, people are effectively getting the software for free, but the cloud storage is charged at an exorbitant rate?

    Start making sense. I’m not “not getting it”, you’re just providing an extremely skewed presentation of your views on the topic.

  • Dov

    Theo I owe you an apology based on where your located in the world and realizing where our conversation is going somewhat off.

    Why complain can be summed up in this article in that Adobe unlocked at the very least the management modules and the ability to export copies of your images obviously because people yelled and complained.

    if they had not then that software would not have been opened at all.

    The same issues in buying a razor under the Gillette model exists anywhere you go its universal.

    Yes people complainant why do you have an issue with it. If your happy with the status quo then pay the price and be happy paying for blades. Other people who have a different position and awareness of price and fairness have just the same right to complain as you have to not complain.

    Your looking at this is a relief from having to pay such an exorbitant price for the product as a stand alone so its understandable that you see this as a benefit. Other do not see it as such and are aware that our voice becomes more limited in the exiting market as structured by adobe.

    I can give you many stories about how people complaining has produced cheaper and better products when companies like adobe or quark tried to force people to buy stupid decisions on their part in developing their product.

    Quark years ago pulled a major boner when they came out with an interim upgrade to their software wanted everyone to pay full price and this right before and actual major version upgrade everyone was waiting for.

    People complained and didn’t buy and quark had to let it go for nothing and cut major deals with corporations to buy the minor update with promises of massive discounts for the actual version upgrade.
    Quark being a rather arrogant company was well known at the time for shafting its customer base

  • Theo Lubbe

    That they ‘unlocked’ these features at all is generous of the, considering the previous versions of LR were completely inaccessible to non-paying users in any way, shape or form outside of the beta versions.

    In a sense, they’re creating a Lightroom Lite; something which, to my knowledge, hasn’t existed before. Lightroom 5 is still available as a stand-alone purchase though – you can simply gain access to it via the ‘photography’ CC package and end up using 10 months or so worth of your sub in paying only for LR, not for PS (on the assumption of LR costing roughly $100 to buy on its own and the photography package being $10/month).

    Again of course, this $10/month price is not what PS effectively went for for the first… year and a half or so after Creative Cloud launched. That being said, I don’t think many people at all had any reason to migrate from CS5/6 to the CC version for the first two or so years anyway, so it didn’t affect those users as much as it might’ve users of CS2-4.

    if they had not then that software would not have been opened at all.

    Let’s assume CC never launched and became the norm for Adobe products; do you think people would have complained in the manner you’re presuming prompted Adobe to create the version of Lightroom they now have available? Or do you think Adobe might have (eventually) created this form of Lightroom anyway?

    This is a very important distinction to make when one is arguing/discussing the CC/subscription model, as Lightroom is still available as a standalone product and the article we’re commenting on concerns Lightroom’s new ‘lite’ version within the context of non-paying Creative Cloud users; ie those who may not have previously had access to Lightroom in any way.

    Yes people complainant why do you have an issue with it. If your happy with the status quo then pay the price and be happy paying for blades. Other people who have a different position and awareness of price and fairness have just the same right to complain as you have to not complain.

    Well, that’s the thing.

    In 2006 (if I recall), CS3 launched. In 2008, CS4, in 20010 CS5 and in 2012 (again if I recall) CS6 launched.

    Every time, anyone wanting to go from whichever version they were on to the latest version would’ve been expected to pony up north of $350 for an upgrade or $740 for a new, stand-alone copy (over $1,100 here if buying from the shelf, though this certainly wasn’t necessary as we could just download it after buying it online).

    So let’s say you were the kind of person to upgrade, on average, every two years. At the current (again, I’m acknowledging that when CC first launched getting PS CC loose would cost $30/month at the mininum, so $360 for just one year) price of $10, it would take 35 months, or 2.5 years or so, before you get to the same cost as upgrading PS just once on the previous pricing model.

    I suspect that Adobe determined that, on average, their users (again, the majority, NOT the vocal minority as far as I can tell) were upgrading in 1-2 year allotments in general. Considering this, their original $360/year single-program commitment -which ignores the $20/month ‘special’ they had for those with CS3 and newer- wasn’t too far fetched. $360 for the first year equates to $720 for two years. This is roughly as much as anyone might’ve paid for a single new copy of Photoshop; the thing is, starting at $30 per month, this is a drastically more accessible model for those getting PS to start professional work with as opposed to the prior requirement of taking out a loan or putting down a comparatively massive lump-sum to hopefully end up with something you can monetize.

    If canceling the annual commitment, the penalty to pay is significantly smaller than having to pay back a loan with a bank, in some countries, or having to cut your losses and lick your wounds in other countries.

    Yes, you don’t end up having that CarS you can still drive around if you end up defaulting, seeing as you were just renting it and didn’t buy it in any way, but you’re still going to come out far better (again: not in every individual case – I’m only going on assumptions and on what I thus assume applies to the majority rather than the minority) than if you were to have put down $740+ right off the bat.

    To use a slightly-relevant analogy, think of it as renting photographic equipment for your first year of ‘jobs’ as opposed to dropping thousands on equipment you later find isn’t of any use to you, as the industry simply isn’t for you.

    Yes, you can try to re-sell that equipment to recuperate your losses, but how much would the majority make back doing this versus how much could have not been spent by those who only rented instead?

    For the majority, how many would have financially benefited from the rental model, which always grants them access to the latest versions of whatever they’re using, versus those who opted to get the latest single-digit model of Brand X camera?

    Your looking at this is a relief from having to pay such an
    exorbitant price for the product as a stand alone so its understandable that you see this as a benefit. Other do not see it as such and are aware that our voice becomes more limited in the exiting market as structured by adobe.

    I’ll assume by this that you are a user of CS2-6, not a new user to Photoshop, then. Tell me; what features does the current version of PS CC have which your version of Photoshop does not have, which you would not be willing to pay 35-85 months of $10 subscriptions to get? Assuming there are no such features, why does this bother you when you could get CS6 if you really wanted? Assuming you don’t even want CS6, why does this bother you at all?

    Yes, “10 years from now” subscription might be the only option you have, but subscriptions will still be a matter of voting with your money, and 10 years is a very long time within which rival companies can develop rival software to compete with Adobe’s, or you could change the industry you work in.

    What might not benefit you may well benefit someone else, and you are not the only one who is pandered to whenever any one company makes their decisions, so do not expect everything to suit your whims just as nobody else should expect everything to suit theirs.

    Quark years ago pulled a major boner when they came out with an interim upgrade to their software wanted everyone to pay full price and this right before and actual major version upgrade everyone was waiting for.

    My mom, who works in publishing, worked with Quark (Express). Struik Publishers, now a subsidiary of Random House, used to work almost exclusively with Quark. Something happened and they decided to change to Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign instead.

    They as a company and their employees did not like this transition at all, because they had to learn to use completely different software to get their jobs done, but they made the change nonetheless. They ‘voted with their money’. Now Struik uses InDesign, Acrobat and Word almost exclusively, and I can tell you now they would drop any one of these like a ton of bricks if something had to happen to them they didn’t agree with, even if there would be ‘growing pains’ from moving to a competing software suite.

    I don’t doubt for a second that the same could happen to Adobe when it comes to Lightroom and Photoshop, as there are companies who are making a point of trying to develop competing software suites for photography-oriented purposes. (now-owned-by) Nik Software’s Silver Effex Pro is one such product which competes directly against Lightroom for processing purposes, and there are plenty of photography professionals out there who swear either by Silver Efex alone or a combination of Silver Efex and Lightroom.

    If the majority take issue with CC and decide to move on, they will do so even if the growing pains are somewhat severe, as growing pains are much less of an issue than a company going bankrupt because they can’t afford a subscription model for their company’s software.

  • Bryan Kolb

    The easy answer to that is to simply buy Photoshop CS 6 and lightroom 5. Lifetime license, no upgrades, the classic model.

  • Dov

    Sorry but your now sounding more like a shill for Adobe.
    The game they played when they switched over from the old to the new model was having people pretending to be just average photographers touting the benefits of the new licensing model without identifying themselves as being paid shills for the company.

    It got really funny when you noticed they were cutting and pasting the same copy from Adobe in multiple discussion threads, which really gave the game away.

    No one has to give you an examples but i could just say look at the insanity of the cable TV monopoly scam in the US or any of the markets such as cad/cam in which the subscription model as kept the product cost insanely high. In the arguments that have already been had in this forum its even been mentioned that autodesk which has had the subscription plan for years at minimum allows the user to own the last major update that they essentially paid for by being a loyal subscriber over a year or two.

    Humerously your comment on how over priced the software is more spot on. I bought into owning lightroom because unlike photoshop which as a stand alone was way to pricey and light rooms price point while not cheap was very afordable with even more affordable version updates. Oh and for a touch more disclosure I got my original copy for the upgradeable student price because my college extends student pricing to alumni in the campus computer store. I would have bought it anyway at the I think 150-175 price (If my memory serves me right)
    at the time.

    Adobes issue with pricing has been the aspect of locking it squarely in whats called corporate pricing. The average individual can’t or won’t or will only after saving up for it pay whats really a usurious price for the product. the other problem was their joke of a discount policy in their bundling suite packages. I think if Adobe had simply lowered their prices and allowed one to roll their own suites with a serious discount per time added to the package they would have done much better over the years.

    There is nothing simple about taking whatever Adobe or any corperation gives you. One must be able and ready to complain its a part of capitalism and is the consumers primary way to get from any business a response.

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  • Rob Elliott

    I’ll ask you this.. if you stop paying the Subscription, why would you stop paying it? What is the reason?

    Are you still actively working on projects and just stop paying?

    likely the reason you have stopped paying is because you have stopped working in the industry or have stopped using it.

    more so it is unlikely that this would happen before you finished a project. When was the last time you opened up a finished project from more then a year ago and started working on it again?

    See this is the issue with the Hostage argument. Particularly from the Photographer point of view. Once you finish.. you are done.

    More so once you stop subscribing one a contract basis. if you decide you need it here and there.. you can always pay for just a single month as needed.

  • Ken Elliott

    >>”I’m not aware of Autodesk having any sort of subscription model for any of their software”

    I know this will sound harsh, but frankly you lack the knowledge and background to discuss this software industry practice. I was in the CAD industry, hear much of what was discussed, and saw customer reactions. In other words, I speak from decades of industry experience. I think it’s time for me to step out of this discussion.

  • Theo Lubbe

    It doesn’t sound “harsh”, it sounds woefully arrogant and narrow-minded. Autodesk is not the only company which makes and sells very expensive software, so don’t try to pretend that someone not having knowledge of the practises of one company constitutes a lack of general knowledge and ability to have a conversation or argument on a topic.

    To have such a stance is equivalent to saying “well, you don’t know what the legal policies are of Country X, so you lack the knowledge and background to discuss the politics of any country”.

    We’re discussing Adobe’s products and their pricing policies, not Autodesk’s.

  • AluKed

    Or, maybe, you just think the value proposition of the software in question isn’t worth it anymore, either because the lack (or slow rate of increase) of quality or because you found alternates that satisfy your needs with better value.

    Maybe it’s not the case for you, but professionals in various areas – like photography – go back and re-edit their work for several reasons. I work in advertising, and my agency got a backup archive that goes back 8 years, and yes, we do sometimes go back and retrieve those old files. The vast majority of those files are Adobe files.

    Even if another software package rises up to be the industry-standard, we’ll forever be bound to Adobe software and, if we’re held to the subscription model, we’ll have to pay each and every time we need access to those files.

    That’s pretty much the definition of being held hostage.

  • Rob Elliott

    Or you could always save them or convert them for use.

    8 years ago CS3 was just coming out (iirc) that means there are no smart objects and you could likely open them in other programs.

    Lots of what ifs.

    An Advertising Agency isn’t doing just Photographic work, and will likely have the whole suite, including Illustrator, InDesign, Premier Etc. The new format will also mean less capital cost to upgrade for new features. Which will likely make the accounts happy and the IT department. The Creative will always have the newest features, and access to a royalty free archive. For a Program suite that has been the industry standard for going on 20 years. I’d love to see a competitor show up.. but right now.. there aren’t any that truly compete.

  • Jim Johnson

    You are right, it is a lot of what ifs. That actually is the point.

    With a perpetual license, there is no variable. I keep a copy of the program and I know what will happen in the future if I need to open and edit those files.

    It’s very possible (maybe even likely) that I will never run into this scenario and will be perfectly content with Adobe for the rest of my life, but I don’t like betting my business on it.

  • Ken Elliott

    Theo, I was willing to share some of the thoughts of industry insiders, which may have influenced Adobe’s thinking. But you’re not interested, so I’m done.

  • Theo Lubbe

    I’m somewhat interested, but I’m not interested in listening to someone who dictates to me what they believe is happening and will happen, then at the same time tells me I simply don’t know what I’m talking about and that my ideas are far-fetched.

    If you’ve some mystical insight to share, share it. So far, however, I have absolutely no reason to align my views with yours.

  • Rob Elliott

    This is very true.. but here is the thing, and I’m being very blunt. There is no more perpetual License. This fact isn’t going to change. Adobe isn’t changing their mind. So people have to choices.. deal with it, or stop whining constantly, and move on.