Photoshop CS won’t do money

Adobe Photoshop CS apparently has special image-recognition code built in that will detect someone attempting to work with scanned currency, and then refuse to work with the image (“login as guest” to read the thread). Instead, it pops up an error message, and directs the user to the Rules for Use website.

We received a TIFF image from a customer, of a $20 bill. The image does *not* violate any laws regarding reproduction of currency (it’s not even close to actual-size, and it’s not a “flat” portrayal – it’s wavy, as if it’s fluttering in the wind. Nor is it real-color.

However, Photoshop CS refuses to open the image, and provides an error message regarding the (il)legality of currency reproduction and an “information” button that takes you to the web. (Photoshop 7, of course, has no such qualms).

What the hell is this? In my book this is completely unacceptable – Photoshop is an image editor, not a censor, government policy enforcer or anything else.

Adobe, you’ve got some explaining to do.

Further testing by users has determined that the limitation affects the new US $20 bill and several European bills, probably through as series of image-recognition algorithms (that, incidentally, must be applied to every image brought into Photoshop), at least one of which is probably the “EURion Constellation” method. Adobe has yet to comment on the issue.

Most likely, though, this was done at the request/strong encouragement of the government in an attempt to prevent counterfeiting of currency. The problem is, while the intent may be noble, this is enforcement at entirely the wrong end of the process. There are many, many legal uses for altered versions of the images on currency (advertising, promotional or informational purposes, parodies, and so on), all of which are covered by the fair uses clauses detailed on the very site where Adobe directs the user.

The Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, Public Law 102-550, in Section 411 of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, permits color illustrations of U.S. currency provided:

  1. the illustration is of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of the item illustrated;
  2. the illustration is one-sided; and
  3. all negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices, and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof are destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use.

Adobe have taken entirely the wrong step with this approach. In an effort to crack down on counterfeiters, they have summarily denied any and all users of their software the ability to perform legal operations on images of currency — and in cases such as that detailed by in the post that started the thread in Adobe’s forums, this can and will cause problems for those people who have a real and legitimate business need to work with such images.

(via /.)

Update: A response, of sorts, from Adobe.

Published by Michael Hanscom

Enthusiastic ambivert. Geeky, liberal, friendly, curious, feminist ally; trying to be a good person. (he/him)