After an unexpected rise in costs for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications, Lewis & Clark Information Technology (IT) has changed the college’s licenses with Adobe. The Pioneer Log learned of the licensing shift after difficulty connecting to the Creative Cloud suite during the production of its Feb. 5 issue.
Adobe had previously offered its shared device license for the entire Creative Cloud suite for $25 per year. This meant that any computer on campus could use programs such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro and InDesign. Several years ago, LC purchased 100 licenses so that any community member could use the suite, later increasing the number of licenses to 200 due to rising use of Adobe applications.
Shared device licenses are an Adobe strategy targeted towards educational institutions. According to Adobe’s website, these licenses are “assigned to a device instead of an individual. Anyone who logs onto the device will have access to Adobe’s products and services.”
In October 2020, Adobe sent a notification that it was time to renew the college’s licenses. The company informed LC it would charge $150 per license, rather than $25. The company gave two weeks’ notice that the price was about to increase, and the college would have to come up with between $40,000 and $50,000 to cover the cost increase.
According to Chris Stecher, director of institutional operations at IT, this caused distress.
“They didn’t give us any room or any time,” Stecher said. “We scrambled to figure out the right course of action.”
LC finalized a new deal with Adobe in November 2020. Stecher discovered that shared device licenses can be reset every seven days, freeing the licenses up to be used on different computers. The college decided to lower the number of these licenses to 50 after bargaining the price per license down to $100. Adobe will raise prices again at the end of the year, but IT is trying to ensure this will not affect the number of licenses the college has.
After concerns were raised by The Pioneer Log, IT purchased eight additional shared device licenses, bringing the campus total to 58.
Some community members have already reported problems accessing Adobe software since the switch has been made, but LC does not plan to change software in the near future.
“It’s a financial monster,” Stecher said. “Adobe makes things so expensive. We would love to migrate off of it, but it’s an industry standard.”
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies Bryan Sebok said his department is dedicated to using the dominant software in the field, which is currently Premiere Pro, Adobe’s video editing program. Sebok said the strategy to offer low prices and then charge at full price is commonplace, but is one of many barriers to entry in the entertainment industry.
“That’s a typical ploy that companies without competition use,” Sebok said. “If there’s not a competing option, then you’re left stuck with Adobe, but it’s just one small facet of the broader picture again, of the barriers to entry.”
Visual Arts & Technology Program Manager Tammy Jo Wilson said studio art majors, as well as students who are in photography, video art or senior art projects, use Adobe technology. In an email statement, Wilson said the art department funds their own licenses, so the institutional policy change will have little effect on art students.
According to Stecher, other staff and faculty, including those from Public Affairs and Communications, use another form of license provided by the college. Named licenses only work when associated with one Adobe ID and may be accessed through two different computers, such as office and home computers. These licenses will not be affected by changes made to shared device licenses.
However, this change will affect publications of the Student Media Board. One student journal, The Meridian, uses InDesign templates to design pages, often through remote desktop connections to on-campus lab computers.
The Meridian’s editor-in-chief, Cassidy Harris ’22, worries that the limited number of licenses may cause issues in the coming months when the editorial board will design pages.
“This semester already is going to be kind of a logistical nightmare planning on who’s going to be doing the layouts and what computers they’re going to be using or not,” Harris said. “Especially with this obstacle now, it’s going to be even harder logistically to plan with our board.”
The Meridian received their minimum budget and could not afford to purchase their own licenses. They see no alternative.
“For the things that we use InDesign for, I think it would be hard to find (those qualities) in a free program especially,” Harris said.
Brynne Anderson ’22 is a member of the Polyglot’s editorial board. Anderson is the only member of the team planning to layout the Polyglot’s pages. She has been able to access InDesign on campus this semester in the library.
The license change is a small problem to Anderson, who said the Polyglot has other challenges.
“All of the editors for the Polyglot that I’m working with right now, we’re all new to it,” Anderson said. “There are no people on our team who have edited for the Polyglot before, so we’re sort of just figuring it out.”
For student media, Adobe’s price hike is the latest hurdle after several turbulent years of funding. Media leaders and concerned community members may contact IT and the Division of Student Life to discuss strategies for connecting to Adobe applications.