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Adobe Licensing Quick Guide 2014

Adobe Licensing

This Quick Guide is available in PDF format – simply subscribe to our free newsletter to receive a free copy instantly. 

Adobe has made a number of changes to its licensing structures over the past year. The aim of this quick guide is to provide insight into Adobe’s new licensing model. The guide will not make you an Adobe licensing expert, but it will hopefully provide you with enough knowledge to understand the essentials.

Introduction to Creative Cloud

The biggest change Adobe has made in the past year is the introduction of the Creative Cloud (CC). The Creative Cloud provides access to a large array of applications, all of which are available on a subscription basis. This means that the Creative Suite series will not be continued in its previous format so the last Creative Suite is CS6. However, you should note that within the industry Creative Cloud is commonly referred to as CS7.

New licensing model

With the introduction of the Creative Cloud, Adobe has totally restructured its licensing models. They have moved away from being a device-based, perpetual model to a user-based, subscription model. This model is very similar to Microsoft’s Office 365 and has been primarily introduced to combat software piracy and ultimately increase revenue streams.

User License

Adobe products are now licensed by user, and not by device. This means that a single user is licensed to use the software on any machine, as long as they use their account details or user profile.


The new licensing model is subscription based so at the end of your subscription the end user won’t have any rights to continue to use the software unless they renew their subscription.


With previous Adobe agreements and licensing models, at the end of your agreement term or if you purchased the software ‘off the shelf’, the end user will still be able to use the software that they have purchased, as it is a perpetual license. They may not receive updates or security patches, but they still have the right to use the software.

Under the new licensing model the end user can no longer do this. At the end of the subscription period or agreement the end user has no right to continue to use the software.

Anniversary Dates

You cannot true down (reduce the number of licenses in the agreement) on any anniversary dates during an agreement. You can only add licenses to your agreement.

Adobe purchasing options *

Option What is it? What’s included? For Term
CLP (Cumulative Licensing Program) 2 Year agreements. 10,000 plus points. Support and maintenance optional Select Adobe perpetual desktop products Business 2 years
EA (Adobe Enterprise Agreement) 100 licenses plus maintenance and support for eligible Adobe products All applications 100+ users requirements 3 years
EEA (Adobe Enterprise Education Agreement) Creative Cloud enterprise agreement for education establishments Creative Cloud applications without services Education 1 or 2 years
ETLA (Enterprise Term License Agreement) ETLA is a licensing program designed for Adobe’s top commercial, government, and education customers. All Creative Cloud applications Large Enterprise companies 3 years
K-12 – Enterprise Agreement Enterprise agreement for primary and secondary schools Creative Cloud applications without services Education 1 year
K-12 – School Site License Allows a school to install a Creative Cloud on up to 500 school-owned computers regardless of school size. Creative Cloud applications without services Education 1 year
TLP (Transactional Licensing Program) Agreement for SMB’s that want volume licensing bonuses Perpetual desktop products only Aimed at SMB’s, but Enterprise customers can use the TLP for smaller requirements N/A
Upgrade Plan Upgrade plan is the insurance program for software purchased under a perpetual license program such as CLP or TLP for Creative Cloud upgrade Dependent on the existing perpetual estate Anyone N/A
VIP (Value Incentive Plan) VIP allows customers to purchase, deploy, and manage software through a term-based subscription license model Creative Cloud of teams Business, government, and education N/A

What applications are in the Cloud?

All Adobe applications have been moved to the Cloud. However, Acrobat has yet to be fully added to the Creative Cloud structure but there are plans for that to happen in the near future.

Acrobat XI Pro PDF creator, editor, and converter
Acrobat XI Standard PDF creator, editor, and converter
After Effects Graphics, visual effects, and compositing editor and creator
Audition Digital audio workstation
Bridge Digital asset management
Dreamweaver Web development tool
Encore DVD authoring tool
Fireworks Bitmap and vector graphics editor
Flash Builder Premium Speeds up the development of RIA’s (rich internet applications) and cross-platform desktop applications
Flash Builder Professional Speeds up the development of RIA’s (rich internet applications) and cross-platform desktop applications
Illustrator Vector graphics editor
InCopy Word processor
InDesign Desktop publishing
Lightroom Photo editing and management
Media Encoder Video converter
Muse Website design without the need of coding
Photoshop Graphics editing software
Prelude Review, import, log, select, and export tapeless media
Premier Pro Video editing software
SpeedGrade Colour correction and colour grading

Also available in the Creative Cloud are the following Edge Tools:

Edge Animate CC Interactive and animated web content designer
Edge Code CC Web coding
Edge Inspect CC Preview and inspect web designs on devices
Edge Reflow CC Web design
Edge Web Fonts CC Web font library
PhoneGap Build Package mobile apps via the cloud
Typekit Font finding for designs

Downgrade and Upgrade rights

  • Downgrade rights are not available for Creative Cloud products.
  • You can upgrade to the Creative Cloud from Creative Suite 5.

Services provided

Individuals: 20GB Cloud storage
Creative Cloud for Teams: 100GB Cloud storage
Enterprise: Customizable based on terms in the agreement.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) Create and publish content via apps on tablets.

Story CC Plus – Screen writing, reporting, and scheduling tools.

Web hostingWebsite management and hosting tools.

ProSite– Build and manage person portfolio sites.

KulerCreate, capture, and browse colour themes for images.

Training and support – Training days dependent on agreement.

Installation and deployment

Despite the ‘Cloud’ term, only the updates are actually ‘Cloud’ based. For deployment and installation a local client is still installed on the machine. Adobe provide an Adobe Creative Cloud Packager tool, which Adobe Help states;

Adobe Creative Cloud Packager makes it easy for you to create packages that contain Creative Cloud products and updates. These packages can then be deployed to the client machines of the members who are part of Creative Cloud for Teams in your organization’

It is worth noting that you can still use non-Adobe deployment tools to deploy Creative Cloud products:

Using any third-party deployment tool that supports the deployment of native installers deploy them to client machines’.

Final thoughts

There are no alternatives for licensing Adobe products anymore, so if Adobe products are required within your business and you want the latest versions then you will be required to upgrade to the new Creative Cloud model.

* Editors Note*

At the time of writing it is widely believed that the CLP and TLP agreements are no longer available. However, whilst researching for this guide we were unable to locate any official comment from Adobe regarding the CLP and TLP’s termination.

About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!


  1. Roshan Loya says:

    Good Article. very Helpful for beginners.

  2. Good informative guide
    2 corrections I wish to inform

    1. Clp/Tlp continue to coexist for Acrobat & Technical communication suite products like FrameMaker , robohelp , captivate
    2. Downgrade rights from creative cloud to CS6 is still available and customer has the option to buy CC and still useCS6 version.

  3. Dustin says:

    Your note about not having downgrade rights is not accurate. Adobe offers downgrades to previously archived version of creative cloud.

    Please see adobe’s faq:

    Can I install previous releases of Creative Cloud desktop applications?
    Yes. About once a year, we archive a release of the Creative Cloud desktop applications. The archived versions can be installed in addition to the latest release and other archived releases.

  4. Srivathsan says:

    I’ve enough Creative Cloud licenses but i want to install and use Illustrator CS6 version. Is it agreeable according to Adobe?

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