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Does Google Own Your Content?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the err-i-have-to-go-make-some-copies dept.

Google 160

mjasay writes "ZDNet is reporting that Google has a potentially worrisome clause in its User Agreement for Google Apps. Namely, that any content put into the system and 'intended to be available to the members of the public' is free game for Google, reserving the right for Google 'to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google.' Google may not be evil, but giving it these (and other) rights to one's data should be ringing alarm bells in the Google Apps user base."

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160 comments

Much Ado About Nothing (5, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400043)

First off, the first key phrase is "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public..."

That means that they're not applying this to private content, just stuff you intended to be publicly available.

The second key phrase is "you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license..." Note the words "non-exclusive". That means that Google does not own your content. You own it. They just have the right to use it anywhere in the world for free. The remaining legalese covers their butts for the current methods that might be used to display or distribute the content, and any future methods they might use.

I used to manage the photo submissions at IMDb [imdb.com] and we used similar phrasing in our TOS. That way when we created IMDbPro, it could use the photos, we could put them not only in photo galleries related directly to the actor or film, but in themed photo galleries, in news summaries related to the actor, etc. If Amazon sold IMDb, or we merged with another film site, or we started another spin-off site, we'd retain the rights to display and use the photos.

Technology changes quickly and you'll find most large companies that display user-submitted content have the same kind of release. It doesn't deprive the content's owner of ownership, but makes sure that a lot of potential headaches that could come up in relation to the use and display of that content over the years don't come up.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1, Insightful)

bariswheel (854806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400085)

I'm just not too fond of the suggestive title of this post.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400565)

There seem to be a lot of annoying articles such as these lately on Slashdot (More so than usual). I'm here for the real news, not the real FUD.

I think I'll start my own geek news site! With hookers and blackjack! In fact, forget the news site!

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1, Funny)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401019)

You know what? Forget the blackjack too!

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400137)

Well You do know that if you read the MS EULA you do not OWN the Microsoft Windows product you purchased with HUNDREDS of hard earned Dollars.... It essentially states that they cn take back the OS whenever they want. SO I am pretty sure that googles is nowhere near as bad since theirs is freeeee and they have every right to make money from thier services. You also have the option Dare I say this to NOT PUBLISH it..... Geeze where with MS you don't have much choice. Thanks Gil

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400389)

I couldn't find the MS Eula you were referring to when I installed either FreeBSD or Ubuntu on my computers! How do I find it?

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Funny)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400547)

Well then you also do not own a microsoft windows product, but you do still own your several hundred dollars. Congratulations.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400509)

SO I am pretty sure that googles is nowhere near as bad since theirs is freeeee

Sure, but is it freeeee as in beeeeer or freeeee as in speeeeech?

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Insightful)

arminw (717974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401289)

.......You do know that if you read the MS EULA you do not OWN the Microsoft Windows product you purchased with HUNDREDS of hard earned Dollars.........

If I buy a product in a store, it doesn't matter what, I OWN it. Ford doesn't make me enter into a so called agreement, nor have they the right, to tell me I can only drive the vehicle they SOLD me on certain roads or only use it to transport certain items or people. I can resell that vehicle or whatever else I bought to anybody at anytime.

What body of law gives MS or other software companies the right to put out EULA crap like this, that supposedly applies to their products, unlike every other product under the sun? Are there special laws that have been created that only apply to their products and no others? Did our paid for legislators create special laws that allows software companies only, unlike every other business, to restrict how their customers may use their stuff?

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Informative)

ronadams (987516) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403333)

Simple. When you buy MS products, and many other commercial software products, they simply state you are buying a LICENSE to use the software, not the software itself. BS? Sure. Legal? Of course. Welcome to the world of software licensing.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

Spleen (9387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403451)

When you go into a store and purchase a copy of Windows, it's more like going to the video store to rent a video. While you may play it in your home, it's not legal for you to reproduce it (FBI warning), or broadcast it publicly. Example - A movie theater can't rent a video from the video store and then charge you admission to view it. When Star Wars Episode I came out there were several warnings telling people not to show the Original Star Wars in the parking lots. Usage restrictions are not new, and didn't start with software.

I don't like being restricted anymore then you. You have 4 options: accept the agreement, violate the agreement (take the risk), get it declared legally invalid (expensive), or simply do not purchase/use the product.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

Ubitsa_teh_1337 (1006277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400183)

He speaks the truth, this is a total BS story.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (5, Informative)

peterprior (319967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400307)

Indeed:

From http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en/terms.htm l [google.com] :

Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (4, Insightful)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400721)

Right, it's basically just a CYA stating, "If you post something intended to be viewed by the public, then we reserve the non-exclusive right to show that something to the public."

It's just a big tempest in a teapot stirred up by people who having nothing better to do with their time than look for something else "evil" that Google has done, and will naturally put that spin on anything they find. A bit pathetic, really. Google does more than enough bad stuff already that there's no need to manufacture more, and crying wolf too often detracts from the seriousness of the real bad stuff when it is pointed out.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400999)

Similar language appears in most grant contracts from USAID and other international development agencies. Basically, they pay for the services/work/etc., so they insist on getting a non-exclusive but permanent right to use the materials, but the contractee retains full copyright ownership and can permit/deny use by other organizations. They also have other contracts that are work-for-hire -- e.g. they own your work, copyright and all -- but you know that before you bid on the RFP.

I don't see how Google's clause (particularly with the stipulation of "intended for the public") presents any danger. Maybe it's a problem if you said something stupid in a public newsgroup and wish you could take it back, but that is your fault, not Google's.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401045)

First off, the first key phrase is "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public..."
The only possible problem with this is that "available to members of the public" might not mean the same as "publicly available". For example if I put up a spreadsheet for my work colleages, those colleagues could be described as "members of the public", yet it is not my intent for the document to be available to all members of the public -- in other words, what is usually understood by "publicly available".

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20401373)

That means that they're not applying this to private content, just stuff you intended to be publicly available.


There is a problem associated with the wording of their TOS namely I would have no recourse against Google profiting off something I intend to release under the Creative Commons Non-commercial License. The protections built into the TOS prevent me from enforcing that license against Google.

Think of it this way, if I made an image under CCL and Google bundled it with some service they are selling, I have no recourse to get them to stop it.

That is the problem I have with this wording.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (0)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401407)

First off, the first key phrase is "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public..."

That means that they're not applying this to private content, just stuff you intended to be publicly available.

No, it means your reading comprehension is not up to par: it's not "Content which are intended to be available", it's "Google services which are intended to be available", which is Google Apps.

I'm glad you're not my lawyer.

Microsoft/hotmail lisence is worse (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401601)

iirc: It proclaims ANYTHING sent through the hotmail service can be used by Microsoft for any purpose, including business/trade secrets, patents, ideas, IP, etc. Think there was a /. on it a year or two ago... too lazy to go find it though.

tm

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401635)

"you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license..."
That is not "nothing." Far from it. Just because I use some photo website to host my pictures doesn't mean I want my image used in some company's ads!

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Insightful)

annachie (79931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401855)

This isn't really "much ado about nothing." Just because I might use a google tool to display my content to the public, doesn't mean that Google should have the right to use my content any way that they wish.

I'm a photographer and if I post samples of my work in a Google app, I might not want Google to use my photos for their advertising. It's silly for people to assume that just because I put my photographs on public display that I should be OK with Google using my photos without paying for the right to use them.

For those people who will say, "well then, don't use the service"...

I won't.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401913)

You own it. They just have the right to use it anywhere in the world for free.

Correct, and as I recall from reading Yahoo!'s updated hosting terms from last week, they say almost exactly the same thing.

"Yahoo! does not claim ownership of the Content You place on Your Service. By submitting Content to Yahoo! for inclusion on Your Service, You grant Yahoo! and its successors and assignees, the worldwide, royalty-free, and nonexclusive license under Your copyrights and other intellectual property rights, if any, in all material and content displayed in Your web site to use, distribute, display, reproduce, and create derivative works from such material in any and all media and display in any manner and on any Yahoo! property the results of search queries and comparisons conducted on Yahoo!, including, without limitation, searches conducted on Yahoo! Shopping and the Service."

Section 9.4, terms here [yahoo.com] .

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402023)

The parent poster is 100% correct... and in addition, it is added shielding to prevent someone who posts something publicly available from later suing Google because people got their content from said publicly available service.

It's also a far cry from MS's (paraphrased) "However you post it, wherever you post it, on any of our services (public or private) we have the right to use it, sell it, license it to our partners" clauses.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402169)

Dead on... This is just paranoia.

Complaining about this is like trying to stop people from talking about the words I painted on the outside of my house. I'd argue against the opposite, in fact. What right do I have to stop Google, you, the press, or anyone else from reiterating what I've already made free* to the public?
* free as in speech

Publishing Content (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402417)

There is some ado here. Basically, if you have information that you really care about that you want to publish online, it is probably better to just go with one of the numerous discount hosts, rather than using a free publishing service. I might use blogspot for mindfarts [blogspot.com] . For ideas [plusroot.com] I want to develop further in more detail, I just pay out $50 bucks a year it costs for a web host.

The point of a free publishing service is that you provide free content that they will display in ways that make money to pay the hosting costs. Such companies will always be adding features and changing formats. A format change might increase or reduce the numbers of ads displayed along with your content. There legal language has to include terms to allow such changes, or the site is pretty much guaranteed to perish.

BTW, every publishing mechanism has some sort of compromise.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (2, Informative)

Dausha (546002) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402589)

"The second key phrase is 'you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license...' Note the words 'non-exclusive'. That means that Google does not own your content. You own it. They just have the right to use it anywhere in the world for free. The remaining legalese covers their butts for the current methods that might be used to display or distribute the content, and any future methods they might use."

That clause creates an express non-exclusive transfer of copyright. Essentially, this is a clone of the original author's copyright. That is, you the author can do whatever you want with your work product, and the transferee can likewise do whatever he wants to do with your work product (publish, distribute, license to third-party, derive, etc.). Neither of you can prevent the other person from licensing, deriving, etc. of the same work product. They don't even have to cite the original author (there was a nice case were architect B received plans for a shopping mall via this transfer, removed the name of architect A from the plans, published the plans as its own, and prevailed in court).

This is an interesting area of copyright law that I wrote a paper on in law school. It is sort of like what happens when a contractor works for an individual but there is no express transfer of copyright. It is not a work-for-hire, but because of the compensation the contractor cannot withhold rights from the individual. In those cases, it is generally managed by quasi-contract principles. It also falls under state law because Congress managed to exclude it from the Copyright law (sec. 104, IIRC).

Here, however, we have an express creation of a non-exclusive copyright transfer. This also occurs in Hasbro's open gaming license. The problem is that the transfer allows economies of scale to triumph (i.e., the little guy loses because Goliath can out-produce him). I'm sure Google put this in place to avoid future copyright litigation, but it also interferes with you writing the Great American Novel using Google's public space then complaining when Google publishes the novel with its own name.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403297)

Exactly, basically all that clause does is indemnify them from being sued for distributing the already public content.

What is curious to me though is the part about giving them the right to modify the content. I don't know for sure, but that sounds like if they were to add those annoying keyword links to your documents.


Your Rights

Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate.


This was from the agreement, and I can't think of any way that would be clearer that Google doesn't own any of the postings. Would have been nice if this clause had been mentioned in FA. Especially since this is in the same paragraph as the FUD inducing sentence fragment.

Re:Much Ado About Nothing (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403307)

Right - the issue is that people don't _expect_ it to be treated as "user submitted content", they expect it to act as a web hosting service. Meaning, NOT taking your stuff and showing it anywhere but your homepage, not making it so you can't take stuff down, etc.

Frosty Piss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400057)

All your database are belong to us.
-Google

Re:Frosty Piss (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400079)

All your soul are belong to us - Microsoft

Which content? (-1, Redundant)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400071)

I can understand if you upload your video's to video.google.com they are going to assume some kind of ownership or rights as a distributor. But does this apply to gmail?! I would surely hope the wouldn't mind your data then offer a "pay us $10 to see what joe@gmail.com has been talking about".

Re:Which content? (3, Informative)

syrion (744778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400195)

RTFArticle Summary. It applies only to public information, not to private communication. Man, it used to be that people didn't RTFA--now they don't even read past the title. :(

Re:Which content? (2, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401445)

Man, it used to be that people didn't RTFA--now they don't even read past the title.

I didn't even finish reading the title, my response was "Hell yeah, Google 0wnz!"

Re:Which content? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400197)

I think the summary was fairly clear.

Re:Which content? (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400199)

But does this apply to gmail?!
Is your gmail contents "intended to be available to the members of the public"?

I thought not.

Re:Which content? (2, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400653)

But does this apply to gmail?!
Is your gmail contents "intended to be available to the members of the public"?

I thought not.
I think the concern is that the wording is ambiguous. As usual, the Slashdot headline takes the most sensationalist way of approaching the issue, but at its core it's a question of whose intent you're talking about. Is it, "services which are intended to be available to the members of the public," or, "content which is intended to be available to the members of the public?"

My sense is that Google means the latter (as most of us would expect), but the wording is ambiguous, and it might well serve them better to revise the agreement to eliminate that ambiguity.

Re:Which content? (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400847)

the wording isn't ambiguous... even in the /. text it states "that any content put into the system and 'intended to be available to the members of the public' is free game for Google".
I don't see how they could be less ambiguous. The title doesn't even make any type of assertion, just poses a question, which it then answers "No"

Re:Which content? (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402049)

My sense is that Google means the latter (as most of us would expect), but the wording is ambiguous, and it might well serve them better to revise the agreement to eliminate that ambiguity.
There is a legal principal that in the case of ambiguously worded contracts, the interpretation used is that of the party who did not draw up the contract (as long as thats one of the ambiguous readings). So if you think somethings worded ambiguously, it means whatever favours you the most: in this case, the google is granted a licence for content intended for public distribution. (Which, let's be honest is 99.99% likely to be Google's intention, I don't buy the "don't be evil" hype, but to attempt a landgrab like that would be ridiculously bad PR.)

Re:Which content? (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403357)

It's intended to be available to _a_ member of the public, but the plural doesn't work for that - so does this mean google only owns emails I send to two or more people?

Actually - it's intended to be available to both myself and the person I send it to. That's two "members of the public" right there.

Re:Which content? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400203)

The summary says any content that is intended to be available to the public, which email pretty much never is.

Even so, I try to avoid using Google or any other online service to host anything of a particularly personal (or business critical) nature. I just don't trust some entity I have no control over to host these sorts of things. Sure, if they screw with my data I may have legal recourse, but whatever they did to my data is already done and likely irreversible, so being able to sue them about it is not much of a consolation.

Re:Which content? (1)

jours (663228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400587)

> The summary says any content that is intended to be available to the public,
> which email pretty much never is...I just don't trust some entity I have no
> control over to host these sorts of things.

No, but you trust other entities you have no control over to transmit them right? The only time I ever have complete control over the entire channel, end to end, of a message transmission is here in the office...and even that's only if the recipient is in the office with me. Obviously if you're using Google Mail for something then you've already resigned yourself to this.

Placing information that's "particularly personal" or "business critical" on the Internet is dicey to say the least, and the terms of service of my mail host are way down the list of my concerns.

Re:Which content? (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400793)

Being able to sue a multi-billion dollar corporation isn't consolation? Those must be some high-dollar projects you're working on.

Re:Which content? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401777)

For business content, yah, suing them might help. For personal stuff, though, not so much. Aside from the obvious identity theft targets like your SSN, it's hard to put a monetary value on information about your personal life.

Re:Which content? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400403)

That's my email address, you insensitive clod!

Google's clause in plain English... (2, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400103)

If you make your content available to the public via Google Services then Google can use your content anyway they see fit to promote their business.

Interesting. Does this include promoting Google's partners? (sounds like it does) What if you are in direct competition with a Google partner? What if your business is Internet search or online advertising? What if your content criticizes Google? What if Google expands their business to new areas after you publish your content (e.g. you publish content and then they change their business and you WOULD NOT HAVE published your content had they been in that business at the time of publication)? Sounds like we're seriously entering the golden age of lawyering...

I still don't see much in the way of problems (4, Interesting)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400667)

If you're putting stuff up for the public through Google, about the worst Google can do to you is not show it. If you're worried about what the public (which includes Google and its partners) will do with your content, you shouldn't have put it up in the first place. (Google doesn't actually own your content, just the rights to distribute it however they wish).

Admittedly, Google not showing people your stuff could be a problem- but I think all hosting companies should reserve the right not to show anything they don't like (after refunding your money), because that's a lot easier than listing a bunch of things they won't show (like child porn and copyright infringement) so when they find things later they don't want to show (like ads for illegal services, phishing sites, snuff films, etc.) they can get rid of it without changing the contract.

Re:I still don't see much in the way of problems (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401227)

[...]about the worst Google can do to you is not show it.

I would say maybe not. If Google can do anything they want with the content to promote their business then they could use your content to drive their sales (for example). So, if you publicize all of your whiz bang stuff and people search for it using Google and Google redirects those search results to your competitors (Google's partners) then you can be seriously harmed. Seems like that could be a problem (just for one example).

Re:I still don't see much in the way of problems (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401953)

Nothing is stopping Google from doing that right now, with any search term you give them. They don't because:
1. It would look evil, and Google doesn't like that.
2. If Google doesn't return the results people are looking for, they'll stop using Google.
3. If content providers see Google screwing people over, they'll stop using Google.
I'm still not seeing any problems here. I fail to see how Google can use content you provide to harm you, unless:
1. Google commits fraud (and you can still sue them over that!)
2. Google makes harmful, infringing derived works (but satire and parody are already fair use, and #3 above makes this unlikely)
3. You were stupid enough to post something harmful to yourself on publicly accessible webpages (you can sue Google for that, but we'd all make fun of you and you'd be thrown out of court).

I'm still not seeing any way Google could hurt its users without hurting itself much worse. It's like saying that Firefox could intentionally cripple their browser with an update, I could show up tomorrow with a squirt gun and soak my co-workers, Bush could give the finger to the press corps tomorrow, Microsoft could start charging $2000 to upgrade to Vista. All of these things could happen, and are all even legal. We don't expect any of these things to happen, though, because it's inconsistent with past behavior, and doesn't help the individuals/companies mentioned achieve any of their goals. Likewise, fretting about Google screwing over the people helping it get revenue doesn't make sense.

Re:I still don't see much in the way of problems (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403363)

Hmmm. Actually, there are active or just recently finished court cases which have sued for damages as well as sued to force Google, Yahoo, et al to stop such practices for exactly this (adwords, trademarks, etc. being sold to competitors, then capturing and redirecting searches to a competitor's web site). So for a business to use Google's Services, it sounds like they have to give up the ability to stop the search hijacking. Yet Google's Services (especially the Word and Excel replacements) are, despite Google's statements, an attempt to replace Microsoft Office and make money for Google (e.g. promote their business through increased traffic to Google's search database and therefore more advertising money). Sounds like a one sided affair to me. Small businesses interested in using Google to lower their IT cost yet they can't complain if Google hijacks their published content to the advantage of Google's parters? Maybe Google is also looking to tie small business (and large business?) into a Google advantaged partner arrangement? No matter how you spin it, the requirement to let Google do what they want with your content just because you use their services is an unknown risk to business. It may prove to be an unacceptably high risk. We'll just have to wait and see how this develops.

Don't they ALL do this? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400105)

IMHO if you have "content" that is worth something, you should never use a web 2.0 type social site to host it. If your content is worth money, start your own site, or sell it to a site you want to be associated with.

Re:Don't they ALL do this? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401359)

"If your content is worth money"

Don't be silly. Content wants to be FREE!!

Nothing to see here? (4, Informative)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400145)

Here's the whole paragraph that that blogger selectively quotes from:

Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.

I think it is meant to mean that if you submit content to Google which you intend to be displayed to the public, you um, give them the right to display it to the public however they choose, which is pretty standard stuff. But I'm not sure it actually does say that.

Re:Nothing to see here? (4, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400601)

The scope of their use is pretty limited, too. For example: they can't syndicate it or resell it to other services, but they can use it as a featured video on google video or youtube, or an article or op-ed written by you as a feature on their google news page, or if you wrote a short story, feature it in their online book indices. They're not giving themselves all-you-can-eat buffet access to your content, and unlike some other companies, they acknowledge that work submitted by you is by default copyrighted to you and as such you have exclusive right to control your content outside of the limited scope of uses you are granting them in exchange for using their free services.

Re:Nothing to see here? (1)

robotmansa (1137685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400687)

I'm pretty sure all ISPs also have this exact same spiel when you sign up for their service, too...

Re:Nothing to see here? (1)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401493)

There is one point people haven't pointed out. You agree to grant Google a non-exclusive license to use your stuff, but can that license be revoked? If I put up an embarrassing video on Google video/Youtube and then take it down, does Google have the right to still use it for promotional purposes or whatever? Do I have any recourse to have them take it down?

Imagine some silly video becoming a meme and you want it to stop. You can ask third party copies to be taken down with the DMCA. But suddenly Google can use it in advertisements for their products because you agreed to it. I wonder if the star wars kid would approve.

Granted, currently they will do no evil and probably would respond favorably if I kindly ask them to stop distributing my video, but what about 5 years down the line?

Licenses are approaching the absolute limit. (-1, Troll)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400193)

The final EULA:

1) We can do anything.

2) You have no rights.

Evil is slowly creeping into Google. Or rapidly? (3, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400277)

"... reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute..."

"Modify" means that, if you say you love your wife, Google can change that and say you hate your wife.

That's how it looks to me.

Re:Evil is slowly creeping into Google. Or rapidly (3, Funny)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401231)

They can also draw mustaches and horns ALL OVER YOUR PICTURES! OMG!

Honestly, there are tin foil hat thoughts and there are just coming up with something to find a flaw, any flaw no matter how ridculous, thoughts.

The contract is overly broad, in my opinion. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402545)

If it is so unlikely that they would ever make use of the ability to re-write and re-use something you wrote, then why did they write the contract that way?

Re:The contract is overly broad, in my opinion. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403577)

If it is so unlikely that they would ever make use of the ability to re-write and re-use something you wrote, then why did they write the contract that way?


"Modify" doesn't have to mean "rewrite".

It can mean "apply an XSLT stylesheet to the XHTML content to render it into XSL:FO and then convert the resulting document to PDF".

It can mean "display your Google Docs document as a static HTML document".

Yes, "modify" could be used to do nefarious things. But even if Google has no nefarious intent, its a lot easier (and more future-proof for them) to use "modify" in their TOS rather than trying to list out all the non-nefarious ways they might choose to modify content now or in the future.

So, pretty typical. (2, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400455)

Seems to be the gist of every other EULA I've ever read...

"might NOT be evil"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400205)

What the heck? They might NOT be evil? Why? Because they say so in their slogan? Wake up and take a look at what exactly they are doing with the internet bit by bit, and what they are doing with people's personal information for the "humble" price of delivering "free" services.

GeoCities Tried This.... (1)

mlauzon (818714) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400211)

Remember about 10yrs ago, GeoCities tried this same thing...I believe this was just before or just after Yahoo! bought them. The users will just cry foul again, or sue...either way, my content on their system belongs to me!

Hm (2, Insightful)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400213)

> put into the system and 'intended to be available to the members of the public' is free game for Google

Oh noes! Your public domain material will be in the public domain!

cf. "Your Rights Online" - if this really bothers you - just don't use it (tm).

Re:Hm (3, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400635)

Oh noes! Your public domain material will be in the public domain!

Apart from the fact that the material in question does not have to be in the public domain, and that Google's wording doesn't imply that it will become so, the rest of your comment is absolutely right.

Does Google Own My Content? (5, Insightful)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400217)

Does slashdot grossly sensationalise stories?

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400339)

Only in the UK. Here it grossly sensationalizes them.

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (3, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401061)

Only in the UK. Here it grossly sensationalizes them.
In Soviet Russ . OWWW OWWW STOP THAT ... OWWW, THAT HURTS ... QUIT IT #^47NO CARRIER

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

schwartzg (1089259) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400385)

For the most part ..... yes. Though realistically only for the most sensational.

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400487)

> > Does Google Own My Content? > Does slashdot grossly sensationalise stories? (Score:3, Insightful) Another comedy genius misunderstood in his own time. :-(

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

saddino (183491) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400929)

No, but ZDNet does.

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

chad_r (79875) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401005)

That's rhetorical, right? Then I shall answer you in kind: Are you new here?

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401473)

Does slashdot grossly sensationalise stories?


Is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope s**t in the woods?

Re:Does Google Own My Content? (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402511)

yes, anything legal/political and they definitely do. And use misleading headlines and summaries.

Gmail Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400237)

Any word yet on whether this will affect Gmail Paper [google.com] ?

Put up something illegal and see (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400309)

Put up some child pron and see how much they claim to own your uploaded property and how many rights they consider exclusive to them with that content.

Figures (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400357)

Communist story posted by communist Zonk. Nothing new here, move along.

Nothing To See Here...Move along FUD train..... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400375)

The full paragraph which clearly states that Google does not own your content. Please stop spreading lies.

Your Rights

Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.

Do music hosting sites own your music? (2, Informative)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400469)

I read recently that some music hosting sites, including for a time MySpace, have terms of service that give them rights over a musician's music that no sensible musician would agree to, for example the right to create derivative works and to use the music commercially.

What that means is that starving musicians could upload their work to a music hosting service, only to find that the site ends up selling CDs of their music, or licensing it for advertising jingles.

MySpace's TOS were this way until someone there organized a big protest. Let me find a link... ah, here we go [boingboing.net] - videos at YouTube too. And I quote:

"...by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successor's) business... in any media formats and through any media channels."

Among other things, this means they could strip the audio portion of any track and sell it on a CD. Or, they could sell your video to an ad firm looking to get "edgy"; suddenly your indie reggae tune could be the soundtrack to a new ad for SUVs. The sky's still the limit, when it comes to the rights you surrender to YouTube when you upload your video. Perhaps even scarier is the idea that anyone who might eventually buy YouTube would automatically obtain these same rights. Since YouTube is so popular, with 100 million videos shown each day, it's an attractive acquisition target for any number of companies.

Now, knowing the sort of folks that post their creations on sites like MySpace and YouTube, how many of them are likely to have even read the terms of service, let alone thought through their consequences?

Re:Do music hosting sites own your music? (5, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401371)

Yes, but think about this: you uploaded your video to YouTube specifically so it could be shown to others. But showing it to others constitutes a performance of that video by YouTube. Now, if they don't include in the terms something saying you give them the right to perform your video, how are they going to show it to others? They've no right to performance, you didn't give them one, so they can't do the very thing you want them to do with your video. Similarly, if you don't give them the right to present it in a different form, they can't include it on their front page or provide people the ability to embed the video (see any number of blog pages where, instead of a link to YouTube, the blogger embeds the actual video in a playable form). And if you don't give YouTube the right to make copies of your video, they can't make the multiple copies onto their cache and delivery servers at various points on the network close to the destination networks (think how Akamai works).

One can argue the exact wording (I prefer terms that make it explicit that the grant is for the sole purpose of providing content within the Web site and related operations and that uses outside the context of the Web site aren't part of the grant), but copyright law means that YouTube and the like have to ask you for certain rights simply to be able to legally do what you want them to do.

Re:Do music hosting sites own your music? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401873)

Now, if they don't include in the terms something saying you give them the right to perform your video, how are they going to show it to others?
On all media in all formats? Sublicenseable?

If there was a dog shit on Youtube's lawn, they wouldn't take a shovel and dump it in the trashcan. They would take a nuke and detonate it, thus making sure the dog shit is completely and entirely gone.

Re:Do music hosting sites own your music? (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401541)

Billy Bragg [nytimes.com] read the MySpace terms of service, thought through the consequences, and did something about it.

Re:Do music hosting sites own your music? (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403019)

Hmm, I think the notion behind that protest VASTLY overrates the quality of material on YouTube or indeed many UGC sites.

Do what I did (2, Interesting)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400543)

Some time ago, when Google first announced this Apps product, I signed up for an account to take a look at what they had offered. Seeing as how I host my own vanity domain, I didn't see much use for it, and I decided to just ignore it until I needed it in case a machine here took a dump.

I ended up logging on and dropping the account. I also made the decision that until that term in their license changes, I probably will not consider Google Apps for anything else.

Now, I wonder how many other accounts will close?

#ir3.trolltalk.cOm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20400669)

Slashdot'S

Free(er) country (1)

Vlijmen Fileer (120268) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400695)

Let me put it this way; if a service like Google Apps becomes available in my country, I will switch to that provider. It is not necessarily Google I mistrust, even with such a clause.
Rather is is the completely corrupt and Corporate-owned American democracy I'm afraid of.

Re:Free(er) country (1)

lingoman (793455) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401013)

>> Rather is is the completely corrupt and Corporate-owned American democracy I'm afraid of. I don't want to make my karma worse than it is, but is this the skinhead perspective, or the jihad persepctive? Perhaps it is the democracy part you object to? But I'm really curious if you believe that Google is *not* an American corporation.

Re:Free(er) country (1)

edraven (45764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401933)

If I may paraphrase Mahatma Ghandi, I think American democracy would be a good idea.

What a waste of time (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400709)

I like how the author of TFA forgot to embolden "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public"
I think that he is really reaching with this article.

Lawyers run amok and clueless, illiterate users (3, Informative)

taustin (171655) | more than 6 years ago | (#20400957)

Why does this keep coming up, again and again, on nearly every site that lest you upload anything? It's not all that complicated to figure out:

Lawyer with little computer expertise learns that uploaded (and copyrighted) stuff is being reproduced and set out, as the user intended, and thinks (and not entirely without cause) "There are copyright implications to that, because we are, technically, making copies of copyrighted material." He writes a FUD memo to management, who read the subject line with glazed eyes (because it's from a lawyer, and therefore, too complicated for them to understand," and they respond with "What do we need to do?" Lawyer, who has no experience whatsoever at dealing with the general public on the internet, writes a TOS that covers this concerns. Management, who have almost as little experience at dealing with the public (rather than shareholders), rubber stamps is.

These things are intended to cover the Google's (or whoever's) ass for doing what they say they're going to do, and what their users tell them to do: store this stuff and offer it up to the web surfing world under the conditions you said you would.

And a quick perusal of Title 17 shows that copyrights cannot be transferred accidentally anyway. If Google (or whoever) tried to use a clause like that to claim they now owned someone else's work for any purpose other than what was intended by the copyright holder, they'd get their faces blown off by any competent lawyer. Such a clause would be found to be unconscionable, and would not meet the requirements for a copyright transfer even if it weren't.

This is nothing new, and no different than any other "OMFG! THIS TOS IS EVIL" story in the last ten years.

Stop being so paranoid (2, Interesting)

Safiire Arrowny (596720) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401267)

How do you expect a corporation to display your material online if you don't give them permission to do so?

Google doesn't own something just because you give them permission to display it publicly, oh my goodness, what a stupid article.

Google potential evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20401433)

The potential evil plus Google's unwillingness to promise treat my data as mine is one of the reasons I don't use gmail or similar Google services.

Google is not trying to steal your content (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20401815)

You have to trust someone...at least to a point. Google is not trying to steal your content. If you attach a document to email because you're afraid Google will steal it, how many relays does it go through? That's how many other organizations would have the opportunity to steal the content. Trojans, spyware and key loggers can make your own computer vulnerable to snooping. If you keep it on your network storage, you're trusting your sysads and anyone else with access to the file.

And if you're still that worried then encrypt it. For simple text try http://www.fourmilab.ch/javascrypt/ [fourmilab.ch] and either use the site or download the javascript and make your own page, put it on SSL and even add a random virtual keyboard if you really want to go all out. Pick a pass phrase you can remember. Simple encryption will prevent casual reading, unless you think Google and the NSA are working together to spy on you...in which case you have bigger problems than /. can help with.

If anyone could ever prove Google snooped or stole content their business would evaporate overnight. They're likely very aware of that concern and probably more sensitive to it than you might imagine. Besides, with the volume of material they store, who has time to sit around and read your stuff?

Do those right continue even after deleting files? (1)

wturky (7324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402329)

What if I upload a file for public consumption and then decide that really wasn't such a great idea and go back and delete the file?
Does Google still retain the right to do anything they want with a copy of the file?
Is there a way to rescind or retract the license grant you effectively make by posting the file when you subsequently delete the file?

If you can do that, I don't think it's such a huge problem. But I don't like the idea that I could mistakenly post the wrong file and have no way to make it go away later....

Compare that to some others... (2, Interesting)

joh (27088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402477)


ICQ:
"You agree that by posting any material or information anywhere on the ICQ Services and Information you surrender your copyright and any other proprietary right in the posted material or information. You further agree that ICQ Inc. is entitled to use at its own discretion any of the posted material or information in any manner it deems fit, including, but not limited to, publishing the material or distributing it." (ICQ Policy)

AIM:
"However, by submitting or posting Content to public areas of AIM Products (for example, posting a message on a message board or submitting your picture for the "Rate-A-Buddy" feature), you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. Once you submit or post Content to any public area on an AIM Product, AOL does not need to give you any further right to inspect or approve uses of such Content or to compensate you for any such uses. AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating Content posted to public areas of AIM Products." (AIM Terms of Service)

MSN:
"For materials you post or otherwise provide to Microsoft related to the MSN Web Sites (a "Submission"), you grant Microsoft permission to (1) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission, each in connection with the MSN Web Sites, and (2) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Microsoft will not pay you for your Submission. Microsoft may remove your Submission at any time. For each Submission, you represent that you have all rights necessary for you to make the grants in this section. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft may monitor your e-mail, or other electronic communications and may disclose such information in the event it has a good faith reason to believe it is necessary for purposes of ensuring your compliance with this Agreement, and protecting the rights, property, and interests of the Microsoft Parties or any customer of a Microsoft Party." (Microsofts Terms of Use)

Stop the presses! (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402487)

If you choose the option to publish your information publically via Google's services, then Google is >gaspright to publish your information publically via Google's services! How dare they demand this?!?!

Re:Stop the presses! (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20402703)

Fucked it up. Never mind.

Re:Stop the presses! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20403139)

I've often wondered why I've never seen many squirrel comedians. Thanks for helping:)

Hello from Google (5, Informative)

schillace (1149417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20403129)

Hi,
I'm the engineering director for Google Docs (and one of the founders of Writely which became the Word Processor part). The comments here are pretty good for the most part - as has been discussed, this is just about re-posting content users have marked as public. Here's what I wrote on the original story, so you don't have to dig it out.

As we state in our terms of service, we don't claim ownership or control over your content in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, whether you're using it as an individual or through Google Apps. Read in its entirety, the sentence from our terms of service excerpted in the blog ensures that, for documents you expressly choose to share with others, we have the proper license to display those documents to the selected users and format documents properly for different displays. To be clear, Google will not use your documents beyond the scope that you and you alone control. Your fantasy football spreadsheets are not going to end up shared with the world unless you want them to be.
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