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They’re always telling us that things cost more in the UK (when they’re not denying that things cost more in the UK) because operating costs are so high. Gas is expensive, so moving things around is expensive, heating a shop is expensive, storing things in warehouses is expensive, personnel is expensive.

So how come it costs about $300 more to download Photoshop off the internet in the UK, compared to the US.

I don’t know, but I’m guessing it has to do with VAT. For fuck’s sake, people, don’t let them impose one on the Land of the Free. It’s invisible; it depresses commerce insidiously. Silent but deadly.

So! I’ve ordered my fabulous new dedicated Photoshop machine. It would’ve been here by now, if it weren’t for this stupid snowfall combined with the Christmas rush. It is entirely spec’ed to run one program — Photoshop CS5. The latest and greatest version with the 64-bits and he multiple cores and all that other modern shit I don’t understand.

And it turns out my version of Photoshop is one rev too old to be upgraded.

Well. Huh. Ouch.

What’s this going to cost me? Using today’s exchange rate of $1.53 to the pound, the price of a full Adobe CS5 license from Amazon.co.uk is $928.50. From Amazon.com? $624.99.

As an upgrade, UK $278.55, US $161.19. (The student version, they just fucking stand in the cafeteria and throw it at people).

So the difference between an upgrade in Rhode Island and a full download in Sussex is $767.31. I kind of get the reason software companies approach it this way, but if they ever wonder why people don’t respect their intellectual property rights dot-dot-dot

Oh, yeah…sorry the illustration is lame. My version of Photoshop is old and retarded.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 22, 2010, 11:35 pm

It’s really not down to VAT. VAT is 17.5% currently and the price difference is far greater than that.

What it is down to is the way US companies routinely and cynically overcharge for export sales. Software is just one example but just the same is true of the bastards at Levis or Wrangler.

It’s just more obvious with unalloyed scum like Adobe because they can’t confuse the issue with lies about increased costs.

I’ve every sympathy with the intellectual property argument (I earn my living that way) but software companies deserve everything they get in my estimation.


Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: December 22, 2010, 11:57 pm

VAT is a killer, but software companies are greedy bastages too.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 23, 2010, 12:32 am

There are things you can do, like buy Photoshop Elements and upgrade it. Or buy an old Photoshop off eBay and upgrade. I’ve posted on a couple of Photoshop forums asking if anyone’s worked out the best method, and so far the only response I’ve gotten is, “oh, just pay it.”

Huh. Not in a position to be that casual about a thousand bucks.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: December 23, 2010, 12:56 am

To be fair, people underestimate just how much software development costs. I would be far from surprised if lifetime dev costs for Photoshop were over ten figures. Even at $900 a pop you have to shift a lot of copies to recoup that.

Stoaty, do you have any recommendations for good books on CS5? I’d like to get more out of it, even though it’s only a promo version. It’s sledgehammer to crack a nut but I’ve been using Photoshop since I got my first colour Mac in 1990 (a IIsi, god I loved that beast) and I’m used to it. GIMP works (or rather doesn’t since something borked my Fink installation and now X Windows shits itself) but I don’t have the muscle memory I do with PS.

PS is actually a pretty powerful scientific image processing app. In combination with Illustrator and something to drive it like Matlab or Mathematica, you can do wondrous things. The power to write your own convolution kernels is awesome.

Comment from Can\\\’t hark my cry
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:00 am

The student version, they just fucking stand in the cafeteria and throw it at people

Um. Would it be worth registering for a few courses at the UK equivalent of a Community College, and standing around in the cafeteria with your hands open? Or am I missing the point there?

Comment from Can\\\\\\\’t hark my cry
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:01 am

Oh, rats. I forgot to weed out the backslashes. I’m leaving them in deliberately on this post, though, because after a certain point they become. . .psychedelic. Or sumpin’.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:08 am

I know, David Gillies. It’s an expensive proposition, constantly maintaining a big program like that. It’s the disproportion that rankles. And the fact I’m broke.

I’m spoiled, is all. I was a cubiclemonkey for so many years. I just pointed and my boss bought me software. God, I miss 3D Studio.

I don’t have any book recommendations at all. I never learned to get the most out of any program I worked with. I was always chasing deadlines; I learned as much as I needed to make the client fuck off with a smile on his face.

I’d like to do some tutorials now…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:12 am

I don’t know how much “school” I’d have to buy to get the cheap rates, Can\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\etcetera. I do know that a version bought that way can’t be used professionally.

My 3D Studio instructor did a job using a student version of that intensely expensive program (the version information stays in the header, I think) and a client tried to wiggle out of paying her by ratting her out to Autodesk.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:13 am

Obviously the Internet translation requirements between English and American are a significant driver for those costs. And I’m sure that YOUR Internet is much more effective than ours over here. At least, that’s what ABCNNBCBS and their dead-tree fellow travelers tell us on a regular basis…

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:42 am

Ah! Why am I not surprised? Indeed–I am embarrassed that that explanation should not have occurred to this, um, you-should-excuse-the-expression, lawyer. Too bad. So, back to E-bay.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: December 23, 2010, 3:03 am

In comes the American Badger, bringing treats and outrage. First the outrage! On the Mark Levin program tonight, I heard Barney Frank say that there should be no inheretance for heirs, that as they did not do the earning of their inheretance, they had no right to it, and it should go to the government. Verily, the Democrats are both thieves, and evil.

So, to try and bring in some niceness after that, I now hand out hot apple cider, with cinnamon, and fresh out of the oven skunk cookies. Skunk cookies are made with both regular and white chocolate chips, and some of the white chips melt, and go through the cookie as it bakes, resulting in a very rich, moist cookie. For youse guys, I made raspberry skunks, in which I have added raspberry pie filling to the dough as well. Enjoy your e refreshments, and try making skunk cookies at home, just add as many white chips as regular to the recipie.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: December 23, 2010, 3:48 am

Scotty – Yep, Barney Freakazoid is a world class nit-wit.

The great thing is that, with the new Census data and his having lost his chairmanships, there is an excellent chance he will either retire, or have his district eliminated in 2012…..

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: December 23, 2010, 4:37 am

I thought it was a pretty good illustration…

Comment from catnip
Time: December 23, 2010, 4:59 am

Ditto on the illustration. Looks fine to me.

Would it be illegal for someone to purchase the software from Amazon.com on your behalf and just ship it to you for use in the UK?

Comment from David Gillies
Time: December 23, 2010, 5:46 am

Why would Barney Frank be worried about gifting anything to his offspring? It’s not like the repulsive little Fascist has any.

Given his contribution to the financial mess in which the US finds itself, via the incontinent Fannie Mae etc., it’s hard to see how there could be any better medium for supporting Frank’s political agenda than 6′ of piano wire.

Catnip: software end-user license agreements make insurance policies look like a bastion of clarity and good faith. The software companies have tried to make the case that you’re basically renting the program, so you can’t sell your installation discs to your neighbour even if you verifiably erase the code from your computer before doing so. It probably breaks some sub-clause to even buy your kid Photoshop for Christmas. Don’t blame us software engineers: we hate shyster logic-chopping legal scum as much as the next man. I think some of the more restrictive provisions have been shot down in the courts, but remember when it comes to IPR law, Microsoft has deeper pockets than you. You will run out of money before they run out of lawyers. The DMCA is basically what happens when O’Rourke’s Law is applied: “when buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”*

*vide supra Frank, B.; also Dodd, C.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 23, 2010, 11:18 am

I kind of lost the will to Photoshop by the time I got to the weasel’s back legs. Then I cropped one out.

And Customs and Excise would probably catch it coming in, catnip. Then I’d owe an appalling fee to them (insult to injury: they not only charge a swinging fee, they make you pay eight pounds to the postman to collect it). Nice thought, though.


Comment from Mike C.
Time: December 23, 2010, 11:44 am

Two years back, I was offered a position in London at what seemed a pretty decent wage – until I ran the numbers. What it was was a huge paycut, and that was just from housing, transportation and taxes, never mind everything else. I don’t understand how normal people can afford to live in such places.

Good luck with the new ‘puter.

Comment from Mike C.
Time: December 23, 2010, 11:47 am

Oh, and to avoid the anti-Brit tag, I should add that I don’t see how normal people can afford to live in places like NYC or SanFran, either. Of course, I can’t understand WHY you would want to live in those two, either.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: December 23, 2010, 1:40 pm

I kind of lost the will to Photoshop by the time I got to the weasel’s back legs. Then I cropped one out….. Oh, and ZOMG MY COMPUTER IS HERE MY COMPUTER IS HERE.

That will help boost your enthusiasm level 🙂

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 23, 2010, 2:01 pm

Why would anyone consider somebody living in NYC or SanFran to be “normal”?

Congratulations on your new computer! Hope you enjoy the 6 cores! Be sure to check out the AMD web site to get the AMD Overdrive application that will let you make sure you get FULL USE of the system’s capabilities.

And don’t forget to hit:
to disinfect any unwanted software that may have been installed by the assembler. Smart move is to use “disable” in the “Tools” “Startup” tab so you can get back to where you were if you get rid of something you shouldn’t…

Comment from steve
Time: December 23, 2010, 2:46 pm

Perhaps Barney can persuade his fellow Mass. legislator, Jean F’n Kerry, The Hero of Vietnam, to lead by example on this issue.

As neither he, nor his wife his anything to earn the several hundred million of dollars that she inherited form her dead first husband….they should volunteer to return that full ammount to the US Treasury, forthwith…

He should prevail upon Senator Jay Rockefeller to do likewise with his patrimony….

Then we can all see how things go for them over the next few years….and assess whether, in hindsight, such a policy would represent good law.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 23, 2010, 4:54 pm

You’re not wrong, Mike C. Over here we call it ‘rip-off Britain’.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: December 23, 2010, 5:22 pm

The UK is an object lesson in supply and demand. All the areas you can afford to live, no-one in their right mind would want to. The disparity between, say, Brighton and Blackburn is like the difference between Cannes and Calcutta.

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: December 23, 2010, 8:37 pm

David – I loved living in Cambridgeshire, but could never afford it, long-term, without the subsidies I received from my Uncle Sugar.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: December 23, 2010, 9:59 pm

I know MCPO. When you make chump change like me (i.e. ~£30K a year) it’s really hard to imagine how I’d survive there again. When the money in your pocket goes four times further it makes a big difference.

OK, off to the mall to splurge. Yippee!

Comment from RHJunior
Time: December 24, 2010, 12:27 am

Try paint shop pro. It’s cheaper and has most of the same basic bells and whistles as photoshop.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: December 24, 2010, 12:38 am

So I told my Mom (currently residing with me for the winter) about your Photoshop woes, Stoaty. Seeing as she uses the P-shop herself. She wishes to know why you want CS5, and then she said a lot of words like “RAW file support” that mean nothing to me. Oh, and she suggests obtaining and training a St. Bernard (with cask on collar) to go to the pub for booze in the event of more glacial activity. And from the sounds of it, the glaciers are definitely on the southward trail.
(Yes, I could have given Mom the address of this site so she could comment her own self but do you really think I want *my mother* seeing what kind of cybernetic bacchanal I patronize? Daily?)

Comment from billo
Time: December 28, 2010, 1:46 am

Try GIMP (www.gimp.org). It’s a photoshop workalike and is free.

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