Serif are genuine, members of the direct marketing association etc.
After some complaints about the registration procedure, the amount of information collected has been reduced.
Yes, I do get email offers from them, several of which I found worth taking up - upgrading to the immediate previous retail version (unboxed) at a very cheap price. Some say they do abuse this, as there is another site they own, thegadgetstore, which you also get offers from - at one time, it was reputedly very difficult to get unsubscribed.
To be honest, given the amount of GARBAGE email I get from real spamming vermin, I'm not bothered about getting a few emails that may actually have something of interest.
There is also a "webcheck" component in the software, which runs on program startup, and checks for offers and updates, raising some "spyware" concerns, but it is well tied to the software and does not go wandering off on it's own.
Most irritating, the "activation" must be repeated if you re-install, and it seems also in you transfer to a new drive (yes, even the free version).
For a "quick and easy" Photo editor, check out
There is a pro (or "studio") version with more features, but the free version meets the most rigorous definition of freeware as used by the regulars in the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup - no registration, no ads, just honest to goodness freeware.
Some capabilities can be hard to find though - to draw a circle, you have to use the shape selection, then apply line and fill - it's a decent program, though probably out-featured by the coverdisk freebie of Paintshop Pro 5 that does the rounds from time to time.