Open-source alternatives popular too
Graphic designers in Bengaluru and Mumbai prefer to use pirated or open-source alternatives to Adobe applications to paying for them.
According to the India Design Report by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai have the largest number of designers in the country, with these three cities having approximately 65 percent of all designers. Among these, only 13 percent are self-employed.
According to a 2015 Business Standard report, companies like Adobe lose $1 billion annually to piracy, denting their revenue. According to a 2018 report by the Business Software Alliance, 56 percent of the installed software in India was pirated.
Shree N, a freelancer from Mumbai, said the reason for this is the high software costs involved. “I think the users of the cracked versions of applications are more in number; it is way too expensive. Just subscribing to the Photoshop app would cost me more than Rs 40,000 a year. I earn around Rs 500-600 per project. That would get expensive for me as well as my clients.”
The situation is the same for students of professional design courses.
Tanay A, a now-employed designer from Bengaluru, said: “I used the pirated ones when I was a student. Though the college had the licensed version of the software, it would get difficult to use them because of the classes. So when we had to work from home, it would be through cracked programs. Our student fee itself runs into lakhs, so it gets difficult for us to pay for the software too.”
Kavita Singh, an account executive at RuderFinn, which handles communications for Adobe Incorporated, in a response to piracy concerns, told The Observer: “Piracy doesn’t matter to us now as Adobe is a subscription business (not boxed software) and we are ensuring a mix of affordable and free tools for users from hobbyists to C-Pros.”
The high cost of Adobe apps has led people to use open-source alternative applications as well.
“Being employed in a company, most of the software I use is paid for, since Adobe is the industry standard. So my need for applications is only for minor stuff, which I can get it done on free alternatives like Inkscape and RawTherapee,” Tanay said.
Anujay Ghosh, a freelancer from Mumbai, finds it better to use a licensed version instead. “I used pirated versions as a student, but now that I have clients, I go for a licensed version. It feels ethical to pay for it.”
Asked about open-source alternatives, he said: “They aren’t good enough. Also, I work on a graphic tablet, whose shortcuts are specifically for Adobe.”
Dr Arpita Pradhan, assistant professor of graphic design at St Xaviers College, Kolkata, thinks this is a time for people to change their mindset.
“Adobe now provides multiple options for subscriptions which enable us to explore the licensing versions more wisely. Freelancers were inclined to use pirated versions before; but now one can avail it as per one’s requirement and budget,” she said.
Swapna Sunder, an intellectual property attorney, said though many designers use the pirated versions, companies like Adobe won’t necessarily go after them. “These companies can detect when their software are being downloaded illegally. However, as long as your firm or practice is small, they can’t file a case. This is because the cost of the prosecution would be much larger than the return they get after prosecution. However, once you cross a team of ten people or a turnover of Rs 10-15 lakhs, they will reach out,” she said.
In India, software piracy comes under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. Under the law, an accused person can be tried under both civil and criminal laws. The minimum jail term for software copyright infringement is seven days, and the maximum is three years.