Have you ever used an illegal or pirated copy of expensive software? It’s sometimes easy to do so under justifications such as “if the company didn’t make it so expensive…” and “if I were using the software every day maybe I’d actually pay for it.”. Let me tell you how Jesus convicted me of using an unregistered copy of Adobe Photoshop, and how God honored that conviction with providing me with the deal of a lifetime.
I’ve been using Adobe’s photo editing software, Photoshop, for years for my artwork and comics. I started learning the software on Windows when I was still in high school so that I could start digitally coloring my comics. I then started using Photoshop CS1 on my PowerMac G4 years later and colored many of the comics that I’m known for, such as Captive and TKTC, with the software. I’ve colored and added effects to countless pieces of art and pages of comics with the software. Software that I’d never paid for.
After joining Mt. Tabor Church of God last year, I’ve done a lot of graphic design work for the church for newsletters and Sunday school certificates using the same software. A couple of weeks ago I was working on one of these certificates when something amazing happened. I was editing a painting of Jesus for one of the certificates when my G4 suddenly shut off. I hadn’t saved in quite a while and was instantly frustrated. As I leaned toward my tower to turn it back on, I could smell something burning. “oh no” I thought, “I just burned out the power supply…”. After a little bit of troubleshooting and a text conversation with my brother I was able to confirm that that is what happened to the computer. This put me in a real bind as I had to finish the certificates for Sunday school graduation within a couple of weeks and I had no Photoshop to do it with.
I started looking into what it was going to cost to repair the G4, when I then started thinking that it might be a perfect opportunity to install Photoshop on my newer iMac G5 so that I could start doing my design work there. This seemed like a cheaper option. I had never actually paid to put Photoshop on a computer before, so it should cost me nothing to get this new operation up and running. I obtained, but I won’t mention how, a copy of Photoshop CS3 on a flash drive and brought it home. I started the installation process on my iMac and started looking for a torrent of the registration key. That’s when something else happened. As I was searching for a torrent, a bunch of pop ups started showing up in my browser, which never usually happens. These pop ups were for pornographic sites and other sinful things. My conviction was complete. I closed the browser, stopped the installation, and popped the flash drive out of it’s port. I knew I had to go legit. I had been using Photoshop to do work for the church; to glorify God and further his kingdom. How, then, could I possibly glorify God with a pirated copy of Photoshop?
I knew what I had to do, but had no idea how I was going to do it. Our financial situation didn’t really allow for the purchase of $700+ software. Also, this came at a time when we had to pay up our car insurance and renew our vehicle registrations. We were definitely going to be hurting for cash. The temptation to use the pirated software was strong, but I thought that if I stepped out in faith and made an effort to purchase the software that God would honor the notion and provide a way. Based on that thought, I bid on a used copy of Photoshop that I found on ebay without telling my wife. I didn’t want to upset her by telling her I was spending a ridiculous amount of money on software that I technically already had. For a week I kept raising my bid, being outbid, and raising my bid again, all the while praying that God would help me get an affordable, legitimate copy of the software so that I could continue doing work for him. I lost.
The bids for the software went much higher than what I could afford and I lost the auction. I felt discouraged and instantly started searching for another copy online. I found nothing in my price range on ebay and went over to Amazon. After searching several pages, I found something awesome. Too good to be true it seemed. I was staring at the image of a new, unopened copy of Photoshop CS3 Extended on the screen of my Droid 2 that was selling for $100. I bought it instantly without giving it much thought. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe the deal I just got…but wait, why did I get such a good deal? Is this for real? Is it a counterfeit?? Not on Amazon…right?
All of a sudden, my heart sank as I was almost certain I had just purchased a counterfeit, pirated copy of the software, which would have completely defeated the purpose of the effort and money I had spent trying to go legit. I researched online and found out that counterfeit copies of Photoshop get sold on Amazon and Ebay all the time. That people buy them, then aren’t able to register them. Sometimes, I read, the fakes are so real that the package, case and disk all look just like the real thing, but that the software is changed so that when you go to register, the info never gets sent to Adobe. That way you, the user, think you have a legit copy that is registered, but actually you’re using a fake that isn’t registered so you’re not able to upgrade or get updates. Someone else gets a buck, while you lose tons of money trying to upgrade when the next version is released. I thought for sure this had to have just happened to me.
Well, it came in today. The package was shrink wrapped. The box looked real. Adobe logos, all the right info, made in the U.S.A. I opened it up. The box was high quality. Looked expensive. The DVD case inside looked great. Professional. The disks were printed with Adobe logos and info. It had all the instruction manuals and offers in the package. If this was a fake, it was a really good one. I popped it in and installed with no problem. I entered the serial number, which checked out, then went on to registration. It filled out and sent flawlessly. Now the real test: to make sure that Adobe actually got the registration information. I waited forever for a confirmation email to pop up on my phone. Nothing. Oh no.
Nearly an hour later, I get the idea to check my email account on my phone’s browser, rather than waiting for the email app to do it’s thing. Sure enough, there it was! Adobe had received the registration information and everything checked out! “No Way” I thought, “I just registered a legit copy of CS3 Extended for $100!”
I wouldn’t have found this copy without losing the much higher bid on Ebay. I wouldn’t have found this deal without being convicted of the sin I was committing by using a pirated copy. Before this experience, I thought it would be impossible for me to afford a legit copy of Photoshop. But because of this experience, I am reminded that nothing is impossible for God.