Calm Down Internet: Google Drive's Terms Are The Standard For Countless Websites, Including Gmail

from the oh-good,-this-again... dept

Remember when everyone freaked out about parts of Pinterest's terms of service? And how, slowly but surely, word got out that the same terms can be found on virtually every website and are mostly harmless? And then everyone learned a lesson and calmed down, and would approach future terms of service with new knowledge and understanding?

Wait, scratch that last part. TNW reports that the terms of Google's much-anticipated Drive service, which launched this week, have been treated to the same warm welcome from the Twitterverse. Someone spotted yet another variant of the "worldwide license" clause that all websites include, and before long the freakout flag was flying.

The clause in question, though admittedly scary-sounding, is routine:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

I hate to break it to the panicking masses, but Google is not planning on turning your spreadsheets into a touring art exhibit. A broad license like this is necessary to allow Google to operate such a service, permitting them to move the data around freely on their many servers all over the world, and display it to you (or the people you share it with) through a variety of devices and interfaces. The nightmare-labyrinth of international copyright law means that the most Google could do without such a clause is accept your data then immediately delete it—and even then someone would probably try to claim they made five unauthorized copies en route to the trash bin.

Perhaps most amusing is the fact that this piece of legal lingo doesn't come from the Google Drive terms of service, but from Google's overall terms for all their services. Meaning it already applies to everything from Gmail to Google Mars—so this might just be getting started. At this point, I suspect every social network and user content website online is waiting for the hammer to fall, since any one of them could be singled out at any time for yet another round. Oh well, I guess nothing beats a good freakout.

Filed Under: google drive, license, terms of service
Companies: google, pinterest


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Double Standards?

    Interesting discussion and it may underscore the reality of bias (in both directions) on the issues of tech interests vs copyright. An intelligent point made above is that, sure, the TOS may go overboard, but that no one is being FORCED to use Google's services or agree to TOS to begin with. Couldn't the same be said of pirated content from entertainment companies -- sure copyright law is ridiculous but no one says you have to copy or use content that you know is unlicensed and then fall under its jurisdiction. (thought that was what the creative commons movement was all about, creating a separate ecosystem) The MAFIAA is vilified for their opaque lobbying and legislative influence to advance their business interests, but here I see commenters giving Google a pass using a hear-no-evil/see-no-evil approach. So Google is given the benefit of the doubt while the RIAA/MPAA are assumed to always be acting illegitimately? Seems a little opportunistic at best, naive at worst. We may be wary of our legal right to privacy being eroded, but that is parallel to the concerns of artists whose rights have been ignored. Slippery slope argument was used against SOPA for the abuses it might potentially allow -- can't we say the same now for Google's privacy/use policies? Why assume the absolute worst of one company and not another? I don't think either side is 100% right or wrong, just seems like the role of bias is pretty obvious. I see a lot of cherry-picking of arguments. If lobbying is suspicious, shouldn't it be a suspicious engagement for all companies? If protecting our legal rights is important, shouldn't that principle be consistently applied? And yeah, no one likes nasty comments, but isn't the "troll" thing similarly used to dismiss opinions you happen to disagree with on either side of the issue, to preserve the views you came to the table with? Sorry if rambling, anyway just some thoughts.

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