Artist and activist Stuart Semple started a new project with a plan to take on “corporate overlords” Adobe. As a response to “renting” Adobe software, he has created Abode, a new software suite for creators. It’s yours to keep forever once you buy it, but there’s a potential problem: everything looks a lot like Adobe, even the logo.
“For a long time, we owned the software we used,” Stuart writes. “Sadly, that is a thing of the past, we now rent the tools of our trade.”
“This means that whenever the landlord feels like it, they can put the rent up. Or remove our features (anyone else woke up recently to your colour palette becoming black squares?)
It’s time that we made and owned our own tools. To be free we need to own our means of production.”
What is Abode?
For this project, Stuart teamed up with an “amazingly passionate team of geeks” to develop the suite. Just like Adobe CC, Abode will offer a set of tools for creators:
- ONdesign – a familiar and fully featured Desktop publishing application
- illustrateIT – a vector drawing and illustration package, with all the bits you love using
- photoPOP – photo editing
- Impress – super-fast mobile app, full of templates.
The first version of this software will be a full-beta release and will only be made available to backers.
The initial release of Abode tools will be a complete beta version and will be exclusively accessible to backers. Stuart and his team have future plans to develop the suite and offer you lifelong updates for free. You’ll also be able to sync up Abode with all the popular cloud services like DropBox, iCloud, Google Cloud, Amazon storage, etc.
“Please don’t think you are going to back this project and that’s it,” Stuart writes on Kickstarter. “I need the community to help develop the software. You’ll be expected to help with surveys, suggesting features, and testing bits and pieces.”
Stuart’s activism through art
Perhaps you’ve already heard of Stuart. He got in the center of attention after raising his voice against Vantablack and Anish Kapoor’s exclusive right to use it. As a response, Stuart came up with the even blacker acrylic paint he named Black 3.0. He also created the “liquid mirror” paint, the brightest white, the pinkest pink (which also caused some controversy with Anish Kapoor), and most recently, the orangest orange.
Stuart also came up with Freetone after Pantone and Adobe broke up their licensing agreement. Let me remind you, this change replaced all Pantone colors with black, causing major issues for creatives all over the world. If you want to use them – you need to pay. Stuart thought it was ridiculous, so he launched Freetone, a free “Pantone-ish” color palette for Adobe products.
Potential legal risks
The first thing that sprung to mind when I saw Abode’s name and logo was, “Oh Adobe is gonna sue him!” Since the logo and the name are so similar, Adobe could sue for trademark infringement. Even though they’re not identical, there’s still the “likelihood of confusion.”
This is actually one of the questions addressed on Abodde’s Kickstarter FAQ. “I have no idea [if Adobe will sue], but if they come – we are ready for shenanigans,” Stuart wrote.
“I’ve not been sued yet, if you scroll down the main page and watch the ‘New Reality’ video you’ll see an IP lawyer talking about some of my previous work. I think everyone knows where I stand on issues like this.”
The only way this could slide is parody/satire since it’s a form of fair use. Stuart notes that he has used satire in his work as a form of social critique. “The project is a non-profit, so commerce really isn’t the main point at all,” he writes.
“I like to use parody in a lot of my internet art. I believe if an artist authors software, and uses it to be critical it should be protected by the law, just like any other artwork would be.”
Abode is available through Kickstarter and you can get the full software suite download starting at £59.99 ($75 USD). With a month and a half to go, Stuart’s project Abode has surpassed the $62,739 goal and collected nearly $90,000. I just hope he won’t get sued by Adobe and use it all up to pay for lawyers.