What just happened? Adobe sent out emails warning users of older Adobe products that they may be in violation of copyright if they continue using the older versions. The warning could be related to a lawsuit by Dolby, but it's unknown how it will affect subscribers. Regardless, this isn't a good look for proponents of subscription-based software.

Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers may be in legal trouble if they're using older versions of the CC applications. Adobe sent emails to customers warning that continued use of the older apps could put them "at risk of potential claims of infringement by third parties." This development follows Adobe's recent discontinuation of older versions of its popular content creation suite.

Adobe posted a message on its blog last week announcing that subscribers will only be able to download the two most recent versions of all CC applications except Acrobat (which only has the most recent). The emails sent to customers also note that because the older versions were discontinued, customers are no longer licensed to use them.

The actual legal implication is unknown, however. Adobe doesn't disclose what it means by "infringement by third parties" but according to Apple Insider, Dolby is suing Adobe for breaching their licensing contract. Adobe is contractually obligated to inform Dolby of sales figures in order to pay Dolby the requisite royalty fees. Dolby claims that Adobe is selling products which use Dolby's technology without paying royalty fees and refusing to provide auditing information.

It seems that Adobe could be indirectly warning customers that Dolby may seek copyright infringement against subscribers themselves. Discontinuing older versions may be a way for Adobe to protect itself legally by claiming that it's not liable for "unlicensed" software thus absolving it of royalty payments.

There are many reasons why users may stick with older versions. Perhaps their project may break if the underlying program is updated. They may be financially unable to upgrade to hardware that supports the last two versions. There also might be features or changes that break the current workflow of the user.

While it's unknown what exactly copyright infringement has to do with Creative Cloud subscriptions, it doesn't seem fair to paying customers who just want to use their applications without issue. This also highlights one of the inherent problems with subscription based services versus owning a product outright.