Adobe brings DRM to the Australian market

With the aim of eventually eradicating pirated copies of its software, Adobe has introduced an updated version of its Photoshop application featuring digital rights management (DRM) technology into the Australian market.

The test version of Adobe’s new software activation process, used to track and record each installation of the application, has been incorporated into retail boxed copies of Photoshop 7.02, which are available now.

Adobe Systems managing director Asia-Pacific, Craig Tegel, said the Australian software release represented the first trial of DRM technology to be conducted by Adobe worldwide.

DRM refers to technologies used to dictate the distribution of digital content. While various types of the technology are attracting interest from record and movie companies as a means of securing copyright content, DRM is also being considered by companies for controlling the distribution and sharing of corporate data within the office.

Although software producers such as Microsoft have released DRM products which manage both the customer software registration and activation process, Adobe’s protection technology will only be used to activate the actual software, Tegel said.

“This is not a registration process – we are not collecting information on the customer,” he said. “All this process is doing is activating the application itself.”

Customers would still be required to register their details when purchasing the software, he said.

Upon installing the Photoshop application, consumers will be presented with a series of numbers which they must use to activate the software either via the Internet or Adobe’s toll-free phone number. These sets of numbers are then recorded and kept in Adobe’s central database server. Customers have up to 30 days after initially installing the software to complete the activation process.

Australia was an ideal location to test the activation process because it offered an “easy way” of controlling one market while still using the standard international English version of the software, Tegel said.

Adobe also maintains a customer support centre in Australia, making it easier to assist customers should any problems arise from the new process.

“We want to analyse the customer’s experience, and get a good sample of people using it [the activation process] ,” he said.

Tegel said trials of Adobe’s activation process were expected to be completed by the end of August.

Depending on the success of the pilot, Adobe would extend the use of DRM technology to its Photoshop software globally, as well as roll it out across the rest of its product line-up, he said.

According to the Business Software Association’s 2002 Global Software Piracy Study, Australia’s average commercial software piracy rate now sits at 32 per cent, equating to a loss of $220 million yearly. In comparison, US and UK piracy rates were found to be about 23 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively.

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