Adobe ALM aims to draw the line on pirated software

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Adobe Systems is incorporating licensing technology in the latest version of its Acrobat software that monitors the number of copies of its software a company is licensed to use.

The Adobe License Manager (ALM) software is hosted on a firm’s server and keeps track of how many computers are using the software firm’s applications. If a customer exceeds the number of licenses it has bought, the software will prevent it from installing any further copies.

The introduction is an attempt by Adobe to stop companies from legally buying the license for a few copies of its software and then installing the software on as many PCs as it wants in order to save money.

Although ALM currently only comes with Adobe’s Acrobat 8 software, the vendor said it was planning to expand the anti-piracy tool across its software portfolio. Najeeb Khan, Adobe anti-piracy manager, told IT Weekly the point of the software was to “enable customers to manage their licenses better”, but admitted it was also a way for Adobe to discover the number of copies of its software customers were using.

ALM could have a significant impact on both companies’ IT department budgets and Adobe’s balance sheet once it is rolled out across the vendor’s entire software line, which includes widely-used applications such as design programs InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

Piracy rates are high across the region, with the use of illegal software in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) standing at around 60% last year, according to market research firm IDC.

The group’s figures show Lebanon, Qatar and Oman all had software piracy rates over 60% in 2005, while Saudi Arabia’s piracy rate stood at 52%. The only country in the Middle East able to get the use of illegal software down below the 50% mark last year was the UAE.

Andrew Lindstrom, regional manager for Adobe MEA, estimated around 65% of the vendor’s software was being used illegally in the region, rising to as high as 80% in Lebanon and Jordan.

Khan said ALM was expected to have a positive impact on Adobe’s growth in the region, but did not discount the possibility that firms could decide not to buy any legal copies of the vendor’s software if they were not able to exceed the number of licenses they had paid for.

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