Image: Adobe, VectorStock

A freelance videographer has filed a class action lawsuit against Adobe on behalf of mortified users that watched their files vanish due to a bug in video-editing software Premiere Pro. Even if this nightmare scenario hasn’t come up yet, all Premiere users should take note.

The lawsuit was filed in a California district court last week by Dave Cooper. He alleges that an update to Premiere Pro came with a flaw in the way it handles file management that resulted in the deletion of 500 hours of video clips that he claims were worth around $250,000.

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Adobe has acknowledged the bug and issued an update, so you might want to make sure that you’re on the latest version of Premiere. Cooper claims that he upgraded to Premiere Pro 11.1.0 in April of last year.

Premiere creates redundant video files that are stored in a “Media Cache” folder while a user is working on a project. This takes up a lot of hard drive space, and Cooper instructed the video editing suite to place the folder inside a “Videos” directory on an external hard drive, according to court documents. The “Videos” folder contained footage that wasn’t associated with a Premiere project, which should’ve been fine. When a user is done working on a project they typically clear the “Media Cache” and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, Cooper says that when he initiated the “Clean Cache” function it indiscriminately deleted the contents of his “Videos” folder forever.

Cooper claims that he lost around 100,000 individual clips and that it cost him close to $250,000 to capture that footage. After spending three days trying to recover the data, he admitted that all was lost, the lawsuit says. He also apparently lost work files for edits he was working on and says that he’s missed out on subsequent licensing opportunities. On behalf of himself and other users who wish to join the suit, he’s asking the court for a jury trial and is seeking “monetary damages, including but not limited to any compensatory, incidental, or consequential damages in an amount that the Court or jury will determine, in accordance with applicable law.”

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The bug did not go unnoticed in the Adobe community, and forum users reported similar issues and warned each other about the bug. When Adobe released the 11.1.1 update, it said that the bug was fixed and going forward, “only files that are within the Media Cache folder’s subdirectories will be deleted.” Even with a fix, Adobe said, “we still strongly recommend keeping the Media Cache folder separate from your original media.” Adobe did not immediately respond to request for comment from Gizmodo.

No matter who’s at fault in this case, and regardless of whether this particular bug affected you, there’s a lesson for everyone here. Make backups upon backups of all your stuff—it sucks, it’s expensive, but it’s essential. Video professionals have it the hardest because their files are so massive and are only getting bigger. The good news is that hard drive space is getting cheaper at a rapid clip, and the mini-museum of external hard drives in my closet gets easier to copy over every time. Remember the archivist principle, LOCKSS: “lots of copies keep stuff safe.”

[Northern District of California, Motherboard]

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