Adobe just lost over 50 links pointing to their site after legal threat

I received a legal document from Adobe Inc two weeks ago requesting the removal of deep links pointing to Adobe's own official FTP server.

The article referenced in the document linked to Adobe Reader X downloads on the FTP server which Adobe requested to be removed immediately. Failure to comply would result in them throwing all legal power they had at their disposal at the site and its operator.

The letter had some glaring issues, for instance that Adobe mentioned only Adobe Flash Player in the letter but the article the company referenced in the letter was not about Flash Player but Adobe Reader.

I was left with a couple of options (and little time)

  1. Seek legal counseling to find out if the request would hold in court. The links pointed to public locations on the Adobe FTP site and while I'm not a lawyer, I would assume that they cannot sue you for those.
  2. Comply and remove the links.
  3. Do something else.

If I would have selected option one, it would mean that I would have to spend time and money. While a ruling would not only be beneficial for my site but for other sites on the Internet as well, I decided not to pursue this option due to time and money constraints.

Option two sounded like the easy way out and I first thought about it as it would be the fastest option, but several of the articles would not be useful anymore as the only recourse would be to either link to Adobe's official download page, which meant online downloads only of the latest versions, or not link at all which would not help users.

Read also:  Ghacks: moved to new server, new CDN network

adobe links legal

So, I decided to pick option three instead which had me go through Ghacks' vast archive of articles and remove pages referencing Adobe Flash Player or Adobe Acrobat updates, news and downloads.



I moved more than 50 articles to the trash in the process and redirected them via htaccess to the following two posts:

You will still find some articles on Ghacks about Flash or Reader, but those are mostly troubleshooting guides to fix issues in browsers.

In addition to this one-time cleaning of the site, we have a new policy in place that prevents us from linking to Adobe sites ever again or reporting about Adobe news. We will still cover issues that users may experience in web browsers and such, but everything else is off the table.

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Article Name
Adobe just lost over 50 links pointing to their site after legal threat
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We have received a legal threat from Adobe requesting the removal of deep links pointing to their site. This is how we complied.
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Responses to Adobe just lost over 50 links pointing to their site after legal threat

  1. anon September 19, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Sumatra already covers PDF needs. Let's hope Mozilla gets Shumway ready sooner than later.

    Adobe is just shooting itself in the foot.

  2. dexter86 September 19, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    I can't even comprehend what Adobe is trying to accomplish...

  3. Sandra September 19, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Jeeze, why would they request that?

    • Aleksandr Oreshkin September 19, 2015 at 10:21 am #

      Because Adobe is anti-consumer. They want to make it harder to find direct links and force people to download the installer that has McAfee bundled.

    • Nebulus September 19, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Most likely they want everyone to download Adobe products through the official way so they can shove bundled software through the users' throats.

  4. Ray September 19, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Adobe is acting like Big Brother. This is a new form of censorship. Why would they even ask to remove the links? It does not make sense.

    • Jeff September 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      Because the official download links that they want to force people to use include bundled crapware. They get paid $ for each download with the bundled crap in it.

  5. Tom Hawack September 19, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Adobe not only produces applications which are known and unanimously pointed out as being flaws, mainly the Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash, but they moreover start being aggressive when websites propose to their readers links to Adobe's files which are on Adobe's servers but not on the ones Adobe would like users to download them from, that is those offering bundled downloads.

    Looks like Adobe Inc. is panicking. When a company doesn't admit reality it is not only questionable in terms of honesty but moreover imbecile.
    In the case mentioned here I doubt the legal grounds support their threat. But indeed the challenge is not fair when truth is on the side of the less powerful. The alternative chosen by gHacks seems just fine, taking the opportunity to propose healthy alternatives to unhealthy applications, revoking them as such.

    No Adobe product here. The Reader removed long ago (version 9.x then) and Flash over a month ago. I use a 64-BIT version of Sumatra (XhmikosR's Builds) and HTML5 only. Sites requiring Flash are simply ignored and if they are those I cherish I write to the Website to point out Flash's decline and that choosing HTML5 now is a good move since many websites already have and because Flash is condemned to total eradication be it tomorrow or after-tomorrow.

    • anon September 19, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      Don't forget that Adobe didn't come up with Flash, that was Macromedia. Adobe has clearly made a terrible job at keeping it secure.

  6. Peter September 19, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Good decision. I hope you've sent them a link to this page as well.

  7. yoav September 19, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Concerning how bad and bloated their products are (PDF, flash, Photoshop) it is not surprising that such a company would do something so counter-productive.
    I'm guessing that most of your readers do not use Adobe products unless it is absolutely necessary, as is the case with Flash - though not for long - so this is no loss.

    • Jeff September 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

      I don't consider Photoshop to be bloated. I only have CS6 (from 2012), but it's a marvel on engineering in my opinion. There's a lot to it, but that's because it's very powerful.

  8. Prov September 19, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    This makes somewhat sense in the form of legal action that can be taken against adobe itself.
    Let me explain, as a cyber threat analyst (for some big company who shall not be named) I can tell you that adobe has a lot of major security issues (at least 80 new ones discovered only in 2015). Adobe is always updating their products in order to overcome those security issues, if old versions will be kept available (other than for the needs of adobe itself which probably uses the same FTP server to transfer files between company employers and customers) it might cause security breaches in endpoint clients which may end up in a legal action against Adobe itself for "keeping" its customers vulnerable to malicious intentions.

    There is no doubt that Adobe needs to re-organize the way they store their old versions.

  9. Oh well September 19, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Too bad for them I guess. I switched to Sumatra PDF in 2013 and stopped using Flash last year.

    Both products are useless. Adobe needs to spend time on their creative products like Photoshop.

  10. bsod September 19, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    This is ridiculous, Adobe can close the FTP or move files if they don't want them to be reachable. Good reaction Martin, good idea.

  11. (v) September 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    #3 Can you offer Adobe to close own FTP server or stop to develop any «freewares»? ;-)

  12. Tom Hawack September 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Quote from the article :
    "In addition to this one-time cleaning of the site, we have a new policy in place that prevents us from linking to Adobe sites ever again or reporting about Adobe news."

    On a user level I'm proceeding in a similar way by blacklisting Adobe as far as I can with both system-wide and browser blocking facilities.

    System-wide by adding to my HOSTS file (via a dedicated local source added to HostsMan) all adobe.com and adobetm.com subdomains I was able to gather on "Ethical Hacking Tools - Find Subdomains" ( https://pentest-tools.com/reconnaissance/find-subdomains-of-domain ).

    On Cyberfox Browser via the 'uBlock Origin' add-on by adding ||adobe.^$important to my filters.

    Companies that act as Adobe deserve more than revolt, they deserve indifference.

  13. ACow September 19, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Well played, Martin.

    Adobe is like King Midas of software development, only their magical touch turn things into feces instead of gold. I recently had to switch from Vegas to Premiere for video editing purposes and the number of bugs and issues (often little ones, that have been around for years now) this piece of software (industry standard btw, just as Photoshop, unfortunately) "features" is simply astounding.

  14. dan September 19, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Americans need to take back their democracy; it has been overtaken by corporations gone mad with power and greed.

    • Tom Hawack September 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      The price of liberty, most valuable IMO (liberty, not the price!). I notice you've evoked Americans and not America, and I agree. Democracy is more than institutions, required but no sufficient if a nation doesn't practice it on an individual level, and that level when it comes to behaviors on the Web with which we disagree is to notify them publicly and decide accordingly of what we do about it. To avoid is both legal and efficient.
      Liberty also brings the best, of course.

    • anon111 October 10, 2015 at 7:28 am #

      Seems like most of it started these last 6-7 years with politicians lying to people faces about health plan, ben something or other(innocent man taking the blame + going to jail for exercising his free speech) and now its all the businesses engaging in crooked behaviour too. 5-10 years ago would you have imagined M$ taking the liberties they are today with their own customers? They used to be trustworthy.

      Again, most of this started with some unnamed politician who said "LAW DONT MATTER"
      (So why would ethics or morals matter either?)

  15. wybo September 19, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Clearly Adobe is losing the battle for their decrepit Flash Player. It will be non relevant in a few years when all the alternatives are ready.
    I use Flash Control and only allow Flash when absolutely necessary.

  16. wybo September 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Adobe is clearly losing the battle for their decrepit Flash Player. I will give it 2 more years and it will be irrelevant.

    Personally I only use Flash Player when absolutely necessary. One of the tools I use is "Flash Control" a FF add-on.

  17. Vrai September 19, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Good job, well done Martin!

    I stopped using Adobe Reader years ago. It was just too bloated and gommy. After trying several alternatives, ended up using PDF-XChange viewer from Tracker Software. Best pdf app I've used yet.

    Got rid of Adobe Flash Player months ago and have not missed it one bit! It's nice to not be bothered by 'flash objects' being stored on my machine or constantly updating their buggy, vulnerable software.

    • anon September 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

      If you use Windows XP, you can't get rid of Flash Player because Microsoft bundled Flash Player 6 so that the animated tour worked. Like with the integrated Flash Player on Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 (this was done mostly so that Modern IE on Windows 8 and 8.1 and Edge on Windows 10 can play Flash content, but it also applies to desktop IE, of course), it received updates via Windows Update.

      • Jim September 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

        Actually, you can uninstall flash player. Adobe makes a utility to uninstall it which can be found on their website.

        And in the spirit of the article I'll instead link to a 3rd party to download it
        http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/adobe_flash_player_uninstaller.html

        Edit:
        Well, looks like adobe shot down majorgeeks too...

        Just google "flash player uninstaller".. It's the first hit

    • Tom Hawack September 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

      @Jim, beware nevertheless that the "flash player uninstaller" must have (should have, required in principle) the same version as the installed Flash player. Googling "flash player uninstaller" may lead to a download of a wrong version.
      Also, for those who know what they are doing, there are left-overs in the Registry as well as in files (Macromed folder)...

    • anon111 October 10, 2015 at 7:31 am #

      Adobe Reader is the first thing i uninstall on a new computer. I think the last one i got rid of was like 180 MBs(?)
      and freeware like Sumatra and others keeps getting better all the time.

  18. Really?Taro September 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    If access to ftp was open, and the file from their site should point to the ftp file so what ever could be Adobe's problem unless the file on the site doesn't always point to the specific file on ftp. Sure this sounds far-fetched but even if their was a remote possibility you should always grab the file from a more trusted source.

  19. jimp September 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    I don't use a lot of PDF myself.
    But the default PDF viewer for Windows 10 is Edge, the new Microsoft web browser.
    How does it compare to Adobe and other PDF viewers?

  20. JohnMWhite September 19, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Nice website you got here. Be a shame if something were to happen to it...

  21. RottenScoundrel September 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    Much ado about nothing. I have been living quite comfortably without anything adobe for years, except for Flash, which I was finally able to dump earlier this years when google went to HTML5 for anything they had.

    Everything you need is available free and mostly open source. Gimp, Inkscape, Sumatra etc...

    Wise up folk, stop the rumblings and just do it for yourself. Hell, like me, you should have dropped those idiots years back. They, along with Cisco/Java have about the worst software security record EVER! Hell, I run my Arduino software on an old win7 laptop that has no access to my system as the Arduino IDE is built on java runtime. What were those Italians thinking. :)

    It is not rocket science to live without adobe. If you really must have flash (porn et al {grin}) then use VMWare Player (free) and install Ubuntu (free) and Palemoon (free but donations suggested) within that. Not 100% safe, but a damn sight safer than relying on windows and adobe.

    I am moving as much of my daily online life as I can on to Ubuntu. Just bought an i5 laptop for a full install. Win10 si looking way too invasive for my liking. Just when I read that Cortana is going to be available in win10 without a windows-login. Yeah, that will mean it is not calling home. You do know there is a unique serial number within EVERY intel CPU (probably AMD and Nvidia too) . Who needs a login to know who you are. LOL

  22. RichInIowa September 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    Everyone has already said it all, but jumping on the bandwagon with support, you made the right decision.
    A boycott by you of all 'Adobe' articles would not be unreasonable (unless it's to post something trashing them which we would all enjoy).
    I think that most people who read ghacks know the alternatives to Adobe products and probably utilize them when at all possible. Flash will be gone relatively soon, and it's probably a good idea to avoid most places that still use/support it anyway.
    Well done, Martin!

  23. AP September 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    I kept meaning to send a few $$$ your way. Your response to these idiots inspired me to actually do it. Keep up the good work!

  24. Patrick September 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    Good for you Martin, screw Adobe (A Dope Me)
    Regards,
    Patrick

  25. ilev September 19, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    I use portable Evince for PDFs. I still use Flash for IMDB movie trailers (there is no other way around this).

    • anon September 19, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Shumway seems to work fine with IMDB's trailers. You need Firefox to use it, though.

    • Pants September 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

      Use another movie trailer site. I'm not into watching trailers at all (time issues, plus trailers are extremely misleading with cut shots and sequences that infer things that aren't) - anyway, there are a number of sites .. I have one bookmarked in one of my spare browsers ... I watched at a few - seems pretty clean ... http://www.traileraddict.com/ - uses html5

      • Hy September 20, 2015 at 11:48 am #

        Thanks for the traileraddict tip! The wife's going to love this. :)

  26. Herman Sherman September 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Two words: Flush Flash.

  27. theMike September 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    I thought adobe died out with aol, compuserve and rhapsody.

  28. anon September 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    @Jim, I can't reply to you directly but Adobe's uninstaller only applies to non-bundled releases of Flash Player. It will not remove the integrated Flash Player in Windows XP, 8, 8.1, and/or 10 since it is considered a Windows component by Microsoft. Also, XP's Flash Player is forever stuck at version 6.

    • Jim September 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

      Unless they've changed it in the last couple years, it does actually uninstall the flash that's included with XP. I've used it several times for just that reason.

      • anon September 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

        In that case, I stand corrected. I haven't used Windows XP in years :P

  29. Robert September 19, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    I use a program called "PatchMyPC" to keep my computer updated. I have the flash updater disabled because I rely on PatchMyPC to update flash instead as it doesn't run in the back ground. I'm wondering if PatchMyPC got a letter as well.

  30. Dan September 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    You have my fullest support. I just wish you had removed completely expunge the Adobe name and their products from your site. Adobe made me believe I needed their bloated reader and Flash. That was when I was naive but I know better now. Stick it Adobe!

  31. Ben September 19, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Und warum tust du das?
    Gilt doch eh deutsches Recht und du kannst hinlinken wo du willst.

    • Martin Brinkmann September 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

      Hab ich doch gesagt, weil es Zeit und Geld kosten würde Recht zu bekommen.

  32. war59312 September 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    Why can't stupid companies like Adobe threaten me.

    I'd sue them back, and then some. Guess they know it! :P

    Like you mentioned. Public links with no reasonable expectation of privacy. And no attempt on Adobe's part to make the links private. They have no case. Scare tactics and it worked. Normally does, sadly.

    I would have done the opposite. I would create even more links. Create a page full of download links pointing to said Adobe FTP server. And point to a few 100% legal torrents as well. Then have a few "friends" do the same. I'd totally make it backfire on their stupid butts! lol

    Then again, they would probably love me for it. Might be a trick to get me to post more. haha But won't work, cause I'd still sue back.

    Let's see.. Blackmail, Harassment (cyberstalking, cyberharassment, Cyberbullying, etc.), Unlawful use of a computer. And a few others.

  33. dante September 20, 2015 at 2:12 am #

    I personally avoid Adobe as much as possible. Where businesses are concerned, I point them to CutePDF and Sumatra. I definitely advice against Flash.

    Adobe should just give up the pretense of patches. Its software are just plain wide open.

  34. GiddyUpGo September 20, 2015 at 3:15 am #

    Thank you for this report!
    I have not used any Adobe products for several years. If a site or program requires Adobe, I always look else where.
    After your run in with this virus holding company, I have blocked Adobe from my computer.
    Adobe is on the way to it's grave. I look forward to this!

  35. Ken Saunders September 20, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    It's bullsh*t bullying.
    I understand why some organizations prefer that you refer/link to their standard pages instead of FTP's, but threatening legal action is just mind blowing.

    I've received legal threats before, but never from such a large company.
    It's unnerving and infuriating and I'm sorry that you had to piss away your time on this.
    You're a good guy and you don't deserve it.

    They would password protect the site if they didn't want public access and use nofollow.

    Whenever there's a new security flaw in new versions of Flash, it's recommended to use a previous version or don't use it at all and the previous versions can be difficult to find on your own.

    Adobe's reign will end as long as there are people working on alternatives like Affinity Photo, etc.
    I have Illustrator (in CS5), but I only use it to convert AI files to SVG's to use in Inkscape. I have Photoshop, but I only use it to convert PSD's that won't open with the layers in tact in the older programs and/or open source ones that I use, or the web based ones like pixlr. I only use Flash when I have to and those days are coming to an end, and I've used Sumatra for several years and now Firefox.
    Adobe is sh*t.

    I wonder if these will receive the same treatment as you.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=Adobe+FTP

    You were offering users of their products a service.
    Screw them.

  36. Ken Saunders September 20, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    Idea for future articles.

    Adobe alternatives.

  37. DaveBG September 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    I knew Adobe was scum company now I have evidence for it.
    I now hate flash and recommend that everyone uninstall that crap infested with backdoors software and never use adobe products again.

    • Tom Hawack September 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      As I've pointed it out on an above comment I've decided to boycott Adobe as much as I possibly can. This is not an attitude due to the nature of a Website be it an advertiser or even a tracker which lead me to protection but not to revolt. it is the very attitude of Adobe Inc. in the scenario mentioned in this article which triggers my full reaction, radical so to say when radicalism is not my way of life and remains consequently an exceptional medicine : Adobe, why don't you just retire, the Web has had enough of you. Try to perform at least an elegant exit.

      • Tom Hawack September 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

        I forgot to mention that I do NOT use uBlock's 3rd-party unbreak list, with no issue up to now, on the ground that I do not and will not make a privacy/security exception for a site on the ground that I'd have no choice : if I'm driven to choose I avoid the site never my privacy. Fortunately granular settings provided by (my!) uBlock Origin make it possible in almost all scenarios to combine no exception and total site's functionality.

  38. Rajesh September 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    I hate Adobe Reader, but am unaware of alternative methods of digitally signing PDF files. To attach digital signatures I need to use adobe reader. If there are other apps available, I am unaware.

  39. not_black September 20, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    You handled it great, Martin.

  40. artkaye September 20, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    Hi folks, Adobe can go dig its own grave. Who needs to care? Its DC reader is as bloated than ever. Sumatra has been a great replacement for me ; and version 3 is just super. Forget Adobe.

  41. coakl September 22, 2015 at 1:59 am #

    As for why you were threatened, two reasons: a. Adobe Reader version 10's support ends 11/18/2015, so they want to eliminate outside downloads while keeping it available for rare internal use (without re-jiggering their FTP setup). b. the new Reader DC ("Document Cloud", a.k.a. version 12) has several advanced features offered on a pay-to-activate basis. More Reader DC installs, equals more potential revenue.

    I use Firefox's built-in PDF, and Sumatra PDF when Firefox has a problem with a file. I still have Adobe Reader 11 as a last backup for filling in forms...its settings are heavily locked down; I haven't used it for two years now. I uninstalled Flash last year.

    In addition to Youtube switching to HTML5, you don't even need Flash for many adult streaming sites. If you don't have any Flash installed in your browser, sites like redtube will fall back to HTML5. This works if there is no Flash at all within the browser, not just disabled. If Flash is installed but disabled, the site will ask you to enable it. Sites do this to accommodate traffic from Apple products, where Flash is banned.

  42. anon September 22, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    F them. Idiots.

  43. name September 24, 2015 at 5:48 am #

    Probably an automated takedown bot thing.

    Fwits like these should likewise be met by auto dcma (or whatever it is) takedown responder that adds their botted requests to a heavilty condended queue to 'await human intervention upon clarification'.

    Or.. perhaps a page set up to deal with their spam.. gated by a captcha and any unsolicited mail autoresponded directing them there, anything outside this procedure.. trashed as spam.

  44. Dr. Mike Wendell September 26, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    >while I'm not a lawyer, I would assume that they cannot sue you for those.

    Yes, they can. May not win but it's happened before. Not sure what your linking policy with new commenters so I'll break the link:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticketmaster_Corp._v._Tickets.com,_Inc.

  45. webfork October 19, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    I'm obviously disappointed to hear about you receiving any kind of legal threat but I'm also somewhat pleased that this came up so that tools other than Acrobat can get some press. Even with a cursory glance at a number of tools out there for managing and modifying PDF documents, Acrobat is by far the most expensive (latest version starts at $300 or $15/month).

    Just check out the free version of Acrobat. It's awful with bundleware, adware, confusing pro functions, and an annoying web service component. Specifically:

    1. McAfee AntiVirus installation
    2. It launches your browser with "you might like" advertisements
    3. The discovery process of trying to figure out what it can and cannot do by trial and error (the opening screen suggests a conversion process that requires a purchase)
    4. You can't even submit a bug report unless you've signed up to the web service

    I much prefer PDF-XChange, which has a great deal of functionality in the free version (great search tools, OCR, markup tools, export to image, portable).

  46. Dwight Stegall December 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    I was always told you could legally link to anything on the internet, except pirated content. They must be the only company online that doesn't like free advertising. How better to advertise than through links?

  47. Norio December 4, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    It seems that as companies get bigger, they care less about their customers. Adobe is big enough now to act like an arrogant behemoth. I work for IT at a big university and always tell users they have alternatives to Adobe products and that many are free and/or open source. Users are often pleasantly surprised. However, @Rajesh is right, I haven't found a free solution yet other than Reader for digitally signing a PDF--is there an option?

  48. Klaus Hartnegg July 14, 2016 at 7:02 am #

    Did you ever receive a reply to this from Adobe? I just also received such a letter for helping enterprise admins to automatically deploy Adobe Reader. My web page also points to their public ftp server. Which they themselves point to on http://www.adobe.com/devnet-docs/acrobatetk/ as official source for their downloads for admins. This must be an automatic web crawler that looks for web pages about Adobe Reader which have any download links.

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