No AI training in newly distrusted Terms of Service, Adobe says

Following days of user pushback that included allegations of forcing a “spyware-like” Terms of Service (ToS) update into its products, design software giant Adobe explained itself with several clarifications.

Apparently, the concerns raised by the community, especially among Photoshop and Substance 3D users, caused the company to reflect on the language it used in the ToS. The adjustments that Adobe announced earlier this month suggested that users give the company unlimited access to all their materials—including materials covered by company Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)—for content review and similar purposes.

As Adobe included in its Terms of Service update:

“As a Business User, you may have different agreements with or obligations to a Business, which may affect your Business Profile or your Content. Adobe is not responsible for any violation by you of such agreements or obligations.

This wording immediately sparked the suspicion that the company intends to use user-generated content to train its AI models. In particular, users balked at the following language:

“[.] you grant us a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free sublicensable, license, to use, reproduce, publicly display, distribute, modify, create derivative works based on, publicly perform, and translate the Content.”

To reassure these users, on June 10, Adobe explained:

“We don’t train generative AI on customer content. We are adding this statement to our Terms of Use to reassure people that is a legal obligation on Adobe. Adobe Firefly is only trained on a dataset of licensed content with permission, such as Adobe Stock, and public domain content where copyright has expired.”

Alas, several artists found images that reference their work on Adobe’s stock platform.

As we have explained many times, the length and the use of legalese in the ToS does not do either the user or the company any favors. It seems that Adobe understands this now as well.

“First, we should have modernized our Terms of Use sooner. As technology evolves, we must evolve the legal language that evolves our policies and practices not just in our daily operations, but also in ways that proactively narrow and explain our legal requirements in easy-to-understand language.”

Adobe also said in its blog post that it realized it has to earn the trust of its users and is taking the feedback very seriously and it will be grounds to discuss new changes. Most importantly it wants to stress that you own your content, you have the option to opt out of the product improvement program, and that Adobe does not scan content stored locally on your computer.

Adobe expects to roll out new terms of service on June 18th and aims to better clarify what Adobe is permitted to do with its customers’ work. This is a developing story, and we’ll keep you posted.

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