Adobe Air: That’s Not a License, It’s a Straitjacket

The Adobe AIR license agreement contains a number of onerous and non-standard terms.

I was going to give MiniTask a spin (”a light-weight task manager with a surprising number of features”), but having read these I don't think I'll bother.

3.1 Adobe Runtime Restrictions. You will not use any Adobe Runtime on any non-PC device or with any embedded or device version of any operating system. For the avoidance of doubt, and by example only, you may not use an Adobe Runtime on any (a) mobile device, set top box (STB), handheld, phone, web pad, tablet and Tablet PC (other than with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and its successors), game console, TV, DVD player, media center (other than with Windows XP Media Center Edition and its successors), electronic billboard or other digital signage, Internet appliance or other Internet-connected device, PDA, medical device, ATM, telematic device, gaming machine, home automation system, kiosk, remote control device, or any other consumer electronics device, (b) operator-based mobile, cable, satellite, or television system or (c) other closed system device. For information on licensing Adobe Runtimes for use on such systems please visit .
3.2 Adobe Reader Restrictions. Adobe Reader is licensed and distributed by Adobe for viewing, distributing and sharing PDF files.
3.2.1 Conversion Restrictions. You will not integrate or use Adobe Reader with any other software, plug-in or enhancement that uses or relies upon Adobe Reader when converting or transforming PDF files into a different format (e.g., a PDF file into a TIFF, JPEG, or SVG file).
3.2.2 Plug-in Restrictions. You will not integrate or use Adobe Reader with any plug-in software not developed in accordance with the Adobe Integration Key License Agreement.
3.2.3 Disabled Features. Adobe Reader may contain features or functionalities that are hidden or appear disabled or “grayed out” (the “Disabled Features”). Disabled Features will activate only when opening a PDF document that was created using enabling technology available only from Adobe. You will not access, or attempt to access, any Disabled Features other than through the use of such enabling technologies, nor will you rely on Adobe Reader to create a feature substantially similar to any Disabled Feature or otherwise circumvent the technology that controls activation of any such feature. For more information on disabled features, please refer to .

6.1 Use of PDF Files. When you use the Software to open a PDF file that has been enabled to display ads through registration with the Ads for Adobe PDF service, your computer may connect to a website operated by Adobe, an advertiser, or other third party. Your Internet Protocol (IP) address is sent when this happens. The party hosting the site may use technology to send (or “serve”) advertising or other electronic content that appears in or near the opened file. The website operator may also use JavaScript, web beacons (also known as action tags or single-pixel gifs), and other technologies to increase and measure the effectiveness of advertisements and to personalize advertising content. Your communication with Adobe websites is governed by the Adobe Online Privacy Policy found at . Adobe may not have access to or control over features that a third party may use, and the information practices of third party websites are not covered by the Adobe Online Privacy Policy.

8.3 Acknowledgement. You agree that (a) a digital certificate may have been revoked prior to the time of verification, making the digital signature or certificate appear valid when in fact it is not, (b) the security or integrity of a digital certificate may be compromised due to an act or omission by the signer of the document, the applicable Certificate Authority, or any other third party and (c) a certificate may be a self-signed certificate not provided by a Certificate Authority. YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO RELY ON A CERTIFICATE. UNLESS A SEPARATE WRITTEN WARRANTY IS PROVIDED TO YOU BY A CERTIFICATE AUTHORITY, YOU USE DIGITAL CERTIFICATES AT YOUR SOLE RISK.

8.4 Third Party Beneficiaries. You agree that any Certificate Authority you rely upon is a third party beneficiary of this agreement and shall have the right to enforce this agreement in its own name as if it were Adobe.

8.5 Indemnity. You agree to hold Adobe and any applicable Certificate Authority (except as expressly provided in its terms and conditions) harmless from any and all liabilities, losses, actions, damages, or claims (including all reasonable expenses, costs, and attorneys fees) arising out of or relating to any use of, or reliance on, any service of such authority, including, without limitation (a) reliance on an expired or revoked certificate, (b) improper verification of a certificate, (c) use of a certificate other than as permitted by any applicable terms and conditions, this agreement or applicable law; (d) failure to exercise reasonable judgment under the circumstances in relying on issuer services or certificates or (e) failure to perform any of the obligations as required in the terms and conditions related to the services.

I was particularly struck by the attempts to block use on anything other than PC, the attempt to block interoperability with other software, and the claim that a certificate offered by a CA is a worthless piece of paper (something I was predicting and complaining about way back in 1996, see The Essential Role of Trusted Third Parties in Electronic Commerce, 75 Ore. L. Rev. 49 (1996).

[Note: headline corrected, thanks to Tom Parmenter]

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5 Responses to Adobe Air: That’s Not a License, It’s a Straitjacket

  1. anonymous idiot says:

    Surely 8.5 (c) and (e) are unenforceable? (c) looks like you agree to hold Adobe and CA’s harmless for intentional bad acts on their part. And doesn’t (e) say you hold them harmless for any breach of the contract? K’s may have been a while ago, but I don’t think you can make the other party indemnify you against your own intentional breaches. but i could be wrong…

  2. Randon says:

    Clearly what is required is for the Mighty O to regulate software, as it was the evil republicans who deregulated software in the first place.

    How dare corporations produce software, give it away, then place conditions on its use? How dare they. Law professors with Yale degrees must advise the Mighty O on regulating this behavior before a meltdown occurs. Haven’t we learned that innovation simply cannot occur without appropriate central planning and oversight by law professors? How dare they.

    Adobe should be nationalized and its resources put to the public good.

    All Hail the O!

  3. michael says:

    I think in 8.5(c) you promise not to claim for any use YOU make of the cert other than what they define as OK. But, yes, (e) does look like the classic exam question term that can make the entire contract a nullity.

  4. Free copy-editing, headline division

    Maniacs are placed in straitjackets, not straight-jackets.

    The word straight is cognate with stretch, while strait means narrow, as in geography.

    Bonus, in England, they are called strait-waistcoats

    Straight-jacket is a common mistake, for obvious reasons, and it is possible that this spelling will eventually overtake the older form, thanks to mistakes like the one in the headline to this posting.

  5. michael says:

    You know, I kept looking at that, thinking “it can’t be right”, but my spell-checker liked it, and, well…

    Thank you for the correction.

Comments are closed.