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- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
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<h2>Proprietary Subscriptions</h2>

<p><a href="/proprietary/proprietary.html">Other examples of proprietary malware</a></p>

<div class="infobox">
<hr class="full-width" />
<p>Nonfree (proprietary) software is very often malware (designed to
mistreat the user). Nonfree software is controlled by its developers,
which puts them in a position of power over the users; <a
href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">that is the
basic injustice</a>. The developers and manufacturers often exercise
that power to the detriment of the users they ought to serve.</p>

<p>This typically takes the form of malicious functionalities.</p>
<hr class="full-width" />

<div class="article">
<p>It sounds simple to say that a certain program “requires a
subscription.”  What that means concretely is that it contains a
time bomb, so that it will refuse to operate after that date.  Or else
it is <a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html">tethered href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html#about-page">tethered
to a server</a>, and that server checks the date.  Either one is a
malicious functionality.</p>

<p>Examples of software subscriptions that harmed users directly are
given below.</p>

<div class="important">
<p>If you know of an example that ought to be in this page but isn't
here, please write
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>
to inform us. Please include the URL of a trustworthy reference or two
to present the specifics.</p> serve as specific substantiation.</p>

<div class="column-limit" id="proprietary-subscriptions"></div>

<ul class="blurbs">
  <li id="M202008180">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-08</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Apple can remotely <a
    cut off any developer's access to the tools for developing software</a>
    for iOS or MacOS.</p>

    <p>Epic (Apple's target in this example)
    makes nonfree games which have their own <a
    malicious features</a>, but that doesn't make it acceptable for Apple
    to have this sort of power.</p>

  <li id="M201910071">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Adobe has <a
    cancelled the software subscriptions of all users in
    Venezuela</a>. This demonstrates how a requirement for subscription can be
    turned into a tool for sabotage.</p>

  <li id="M201902080">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-02</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The HP <a
    “ink subscription” cartridges have DRM that constantly
    communicates with HP servers</a> to make sure the user is still
    paying for the subscription, and hasn't printed more pages than were
    paid for.</p>

    <p>Even though the ink subscription program may be cheaper in some
    specific cases, it spies on users, and involves totally unacceptable
    restrictions in the use of ink cartridges that would otherwise be in
    working order.</p>

  <li id="M201711010">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-11</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Sony has brought back its robotic pet Aibo, this time <a
    with a universal back door, and tethered to a server that requires
    a subscription</a>.</p>

  <li id="M201710040.1">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The Canary home surveillance
    camera has been sabotaged by its manufacturer, <a
    turning off many features unless the user starts paying for a

    <p>With manufacturers like these, who needs security breakers?</p>

    <p>The purchasers should learn the larger lesson and reject connected
    appliances with embedded proprietary software. Every such product is
    a temptation to commit sabotage.</p>

  <li id="M201507150">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-07</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft Office forces users <a
    subscribe to Office 365 to be able to create/edit documents</a>.</p>

  <li id="M201402200">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2014-02</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    Adobe tools require a subscription</a>.  Adobe also tried to <a
    rip people off by making the subscriptions annual</a>, but that is
    a secondary issue compared with the basic wrong of the time bomb.
    When a program proprietary, and even malware, don't get distracted
    by the secondary issues like price.</p>


    <p><small>(Please don't repeat the marketing term “Creative
    Cloud” except to express revulsion for it.  The <a
    href="/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#CloudComputing"> term
    “cloud” is designed to cloud users' minds</a>.</p> minds</a>.)</small></p>

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There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
the FSF.  Broken links and other corrections or suggestions can be sent
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>.</p>

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<p class="unprintable">Updated:
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