Adobe Goes After 27-Year Old ‘Pirated’ Copy of Acrobat Reader 1.0 for MS-DOS


acrobat readerThe digital revolution was dramatically changing the world in the mid-nineties.

The World Wide Web started to gain traction, while hardware and software companies continued to innovate at a rapid pace.

This included Adobe, which released a new file format in 1993. This Portable Document Format, or PDF for short, was widely adopted in the years that followed and is now used by billions of people.

Today, there are many popular PDF readers available but Adobe’s original ‘Acrobat Reader’ is still the go-to software for many. Needless to say, Adobe doesn’t want third-parties to pirate its software, so the company regularly sends out DMCA notices to remove infringing copies.

Adobe Sends DMCA Notice Over ‘Ancient’ PDF Reader

While this is totally understandable when it comes to newer releases, F-Secure researcher Mikko Hyppönen found out that Adobe’s takedown efforts go far beyond that.

In a recent tweet, Hyppönen mentioned that the software company removed one of his tweets that linked to an old copy of Acrobat Reader for MS-DOS. This software, hosted on WinWorld, came out more than 27-years ago, shortly after the PDF was invented.

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The security researcher posted the tweet five years ago and at the time there were no issues. The message was copied a few weeks ago by his own Twitter bot, which reposts all his original tweets five years later.

“They sent a DMCA notice to my bot (@mikko__2016) when it posted that tweet on the tweet’s 5th anniversary. The original tweet is fine,” Hyppönen notes.

While the original tweet is still up, the reposted message was swiftly removed by Twitter. Not just that, the bot’s account was locked as well, which is standard practice nowadays.

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Looking more closely at the takedown notice, we see that it was sent by the “brand protection analyst” at Incopro, which is one of Adobe’s anti-piracy partners. It doesn’t provide any further details on the reasons for taking it down, other than an alleged copyright infringement.

Original Tweet Targeted as Well

Things get even more curious when we look at the full DMCA notice, posted by the Lumen database. This shows that the tweet was listed among other links, which all point to ‘infringing’ copies of more recent software.

Intriguingly, the notice also reveals that Hyppönen’s original tweet was targeted as well, albeit indirectly. The takedown notice lists t.co/tbAT0CH25o, which still points to the 2016 tweet today, so Twitter decided not to take action there.

Automated Filters?

We wonder if the DMCA notice is intentional at all. Over the years we have seen many bizarre takedown claims, which are often the result of automated filters. That may be a plausible explanation here as well. In that case, it shows that DMCA takedown process is far from perfect.

However, if Adobe seriously has a problem with the fact that a 27-year-old copy of Acrobat Reader is being shared on an external site, it’s more effective to target the site where it’s hosted. Not the person who links to it in a tweet.

Hyppönen is not very impressed by Adobe’s takedown efforts. He stresses that the software is ancient and he will keep the original tweet online, even if that means that he has to fight Adobe.

“This [software] is antique. It belongs in a museum, not in a DMCA claim,” Hyppönen tells TorrentFreak. “The original tweets stays up. It’s just a link to a site hosted by someone else. If needed, I’ll fight Adobe.”

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