Adobe is Being Sued for Bug that Deleted User Files

This could be a very interesting lawsuit and we will watch it and see where it goes.

In 2017 Adobe released Premiere Pro Creative Cloud 2017 version 11.1.0 ,  Apparently, like a lot of software, this product was not bug free.

In fact, a feature called clean cache not only cleaned the cache of Premiere work files, but also cleaned the user’s original files, irretrievably.

The freelancer who filed the lawsuit and is seeking class action status lost over 100,000 video files which he says cost him bigly in his inability to license those videos after Premiere went wild.  He says that the lost files cost him a quarter million dollars to create.

Adobe acknowledged the bug and released version 11.1.1 which, Adobe said, will only delete files within the media cache. Files, they said, that sit next to it will no longer be affected.

Cooper (the freelancer) tried but failed to settle with Adobe.

The thing that is strange about this lawsuit is that most end user license agreements – the ones that almost no one reads – usually state that the vendor does not guarantee the software will work or that it will be free of bugs or that it is suitable for what you are planning to use it for.  Given that, why is Adobe responsible?

He is alleging that Adobe breached a duty of care and failed to disclose what was, at the time, an unknown bug.  They filed this lawsuit in California which has stronger consumer protection laws than many states do, but they are filing it in the U.S. District Court.  They are also saying that Adobe was unjustly enriched as a result of charging a fee for this buggy software.  Part of the suit is claiming negligence under California law.  They say that Adobe should have known that the software bug existed.

If the court holds that to be true then every software vendor that has a bug that impacts a user will be similarly at risk. I do think that a bug that deletes all of your data is more serious than, say, a bug where a particular feature does not work as advertised.

They are also claiming that Adobe has strict liability for a defective design and are claiming that deleting the files is a safety failure, similar to, for example, your iPad catching fire due to the battery overheating.

They are also making a number of other claims.

This suit was filed this month so we have not heard any response from Adobe, but I assume that they will claim, among other things, that the license agreement that every user agreed to even if they chose not to read it, says that we don’t guarantee the software will work.

I have several thoughts here.

First of all, if you sell or even give away open source software, you need to watch this trial (they have asked for a jury trial).  The outcome could impact your company.

You should also check your product liability insurance and make sure that it covers you in situations like this.

But in this case, unfortunately, I put 90% of the blame on the user.


Who would he blame if his house was broken into and his computer stolen.  In both the current case and my hypothetical one, absent good backups, he would have lost his data.  Who’s fault would it be in my hypothetical case?

He said that the files cost him a quarter million dollars to create.  If you had a digital asset worth that kind of money, wouldn’t you periodically copy those files to a USB disk – or preferably two – and stick it in a bank vault.  I just bought a 4 terabyte disk for $80. 

Seems like cheap insurance to me.

Without regard to the outcome of this suit, which could be in the courts for years, users, both business and consumer, should know that their data is at risk in any number of ways and make appropriate backups.

When it comes to cloud backup systems like iCloud or OneDrive, those systems will back things up on a best efforts basis.  If those backups fail, you will be in the same boat as these guys.

Bottom line, based on the value to you, you need to create and maintain backups as appropriate to reconstruct your data.

Even if this guy wins, and it seems unlikely to me but who knows, in the end, he still doesn’t have his videos and pictures.

As they sang in the movie Hoodwinked, be prepared, be preparedThat is way less pain than losing your data.

Me, personally, I keep multiple copies of my data in a bank vault and each copy is split across multiple physical devices so that if any one device fails and that same device fails on multiple generations of the backup, I only lose a part of my data.  Bank vaults are controlled for temperature and humidity and are relatively speaking, pretty secure.  However, that is only ONE measure that I take. 

Depends on how important your data is to you.  Source: Motherboard.



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