colourful words and phrases

techy tangents and general life chatter from a tired sysadmin.

Google Drive, or why people need to stop causing unnecessary drama

So there's been some ruckus lately because, following the launch of Google Drive, people took to the internet to compare the Terms & Conditions of Google Drive, to that of Dropbox and SkyDrive. The main point seems to be that people see Google Drive's T&Cs as being too unrestrictive. Case in point: https://twitter.com/#!/jmacdonald/s...

What I have a big problem with, is that people don't seem to have properly read the relevant portion of Google's terms and conditions. The full text of this portion is as follows:

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

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. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

What this essentially states is "You retain full rights to all content you submit to a google service. When you do this, you grant us and our partners the right to store, copy, modify (This is for things like converting document formats), create derivative works (This is things like thumbnails, scaled/rotated/edits that you perform to photos in Picasa's photo editor), communicate (Transmit over the internet), publish (Display on a blog post, for instance), publicly display (Displaying things on the internet is a public display) and distribute the content (Transmitting your data through various google services). This license you grant us, only allows us to use the agreed rights when operating our services, promoting our services (Remember, this is not a google drive specific Terms & Conditions, this is for all of google's services, so this can include things like reviews on Google Maps), improving our services, and creating new services."

The main issue that people seem to have is they don't read the line that states Google can only use the agreed rights when operating/improving/promoting their services, or when creating new services. It also states that there are "terms or settings" which further narrow down what Google is actually allowed to do with your data, and chances are there is, or soon will be, a supplimentary Terms & Conditions page specific to Google Drive.

The jist of this is, you retain full rights to all content you put on google drive. Google is only allowed to do things like convert your files between data formats (Word Document to RTF, for instance, or JPG to PNG), or transfer your data between their servers. The license includes stuff like that because you clicking "Convert my document to Word please" does not constitute you giving google the right to actually perform that action, they have to have the rights in the license to avoid any legal issues. Google does not, contrary to what everyone seems to believe, reserve the right to take your holiday photos from Google Drive and use it as the background on the main google home page.

Calm down, people. It's not nearly as bad as you claim.