A Quick Guide to Safely Buying Adobe Software on eBay

There are many fine sellers on eBay and there are a few who are either unethical or unknowledgeable. Here's what you need to know if you want a long, trouble-free experience with your Adobe software. This guide addresses the products sold before Adobe went to the subscription model with Creative Cloud.

  1. It doesn't matter a whole lot whether you buy new or used, or whether you get disks or not. What's vital is that (a) you download the latest version directly from the Adobe site, and (b) you end up with a product that is registered to you on the Adobe site.
  2. Part of what you need is the product key. Users need to activate and deactivate Adobe products from time to time. Generally you activate a product when you do a new install. Typically you deactivate before you uninstall, so you can move the program to a new computer. Having the license key is necessary for this step. This is a little like getting the key to a car you want to buy.
  3. You need to be the legal owner. If you ever have trouble with the product, whether because your computer crashed and you can't deactivate the old installation, or someone found your license key and installed another copy on their machine, there's only one sure way to resolve the problem. That is by contacting Adobe and asking for help. They will help ONLY the registered user. That's why you need to be the legally registered user. This is like getting the title transferred to you when you buy a car. If you're stopped by the police, just having the key is not enough. Many people think having the key is proof of ownership. It is not.
  4. How to register. Registering a product with Adobe can be done in two ways. One, you buy a genuinely new product that has truly never been registered--not one that someone has "lightly used" and re-sealed and deactivated--and you register it as the first owner. Two, you can do a license transfer. This process involves the seller and the buyer each completing a form and uploading it to the Adobe site. It's a bit of a nuisance, but vital if you want guaranteed continued access to the software. The thing that's of prime importance here is that once a product is registered, ONLY the registered owner can give up the license and only the registered owner can get help if someone else is trying to use the product. If you have a product that's been registered and you are not the owner, you're totally out of luck, because Adobe will refuse to give the slightest help in finding out who the legal owner is. And if you have a product that's registered to someone else, you run the risk that the legal owner will start using the product again, and your copy will be cut off with absolutely no recourse. At the completion of a successful transfer or a successful initial registration, the license key will show up on your Adobe account page. Unless this happens, your entire purchase price is at risk.
  5.  Incidental issues. Educational licenses are not transferrable, period, so you can never safely buy them used, and their resale value is zero. If you buy a Volume License edition (obfuscated by some unethical sellers as Vol. Lic. or allowing multiple copies) you are not going to be the registered owner. Upgrade licenses require you to be the registered owner of the previous version in addition to being the registered owner of the new version. Another scam is that the seller provides a hacked copy of the software.  This can be even worse, because not only could it stop working any time, it might open you up to identity theft. Use only official Adobe disks or official Adobe site downloads. In my view, you are only safe when you use official products and you can see your serial number show up on your Adobe account online--but keep in mind that transfers can take a couple of weeks in some cases. I would be especially wary of eBayers with brand new accounts selling Adobe products.
  6. Key Takeaways: All the Creative Suite files are freely downloadable from the Adobe site, so a sale without a valid product key has a value of ZERO. A USED (previously activated) Educational product can never be legally transferred to you, so it has a value of ZERO. And even if you get a currently working product key, unless it can be officially registered to you or transferred to you, so it shows up on your Adobe account, your product could stop working at any time. To me, that product has a value of ZERO. A "Vol. Lic" or VOLUME LICENSE edition controlled by someone else will not be registered to your Adobe account, and would leave you perpetually at the mercy of the volume license holder. To me, that product has a value of ZERO.

Resources for Adobe Creative Suite, including CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6.

This includes products across the spectrum, from Master Collection on down to individual products like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Dreamweaver.

Official reference page for Transferring an Adobe Product License. Basically the seller creates a tech support case number and uploads a form. Then the buyer creates another tech support case and uploads the form. Then Adobe will, at their convenience, compare the two forms, makes sure the seller is the registered owner, and then make the buyer the new registered owner.

Official Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6) Download page. There are similar pages for all the CS versions.

Official Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2) Download page with license keys for customers who bought Creative Suite 2 (CS2) and no longer have access to their media.


All the above is "in my opinion" and not official Adobe information, but my opinion was shaped by lots of research and multiple purchases and multiple license transfer cases, some of which were legit and worked, and some of which were from sellers who were not the registered owners, and hence failed.

 This list comes from http://www.neverend.com/buying_adobe_on_ebay