Thursday, 2 February 2012

Google's new terms of service

I'm not too happy with some of the wording of the terms of service provided by Google, and which will take effect on March 1st. Especially the following:

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

My bolding in the above. I'm assuming the meaning is simply that they need to have the right to publish e.g. blog content on the web, display your entries on Google+ to your network, etc., but it does not actually state any such limitations. How about a digital guide to your city, featuring photos you shared via Picasa, blog entries you wrote on good places to eat out, and sketches you shared from around town?

Google also states that: "This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps)", meaning that you will not neccesarily be allowed to remove content you have added to e.g. Google Maps.

Since Google Maps is specifically listed as a place where Google retains rights to your published material, even after you discontinue use of the service, I have set my Aarhus map (showing my urban sketches from the town) to private for the time being. I'm keeping it private until I can ascertain that displaying it publicly does not mean losing control over my images for the future.

Perhaps I am being overly cautious, how do you deal with these things in your online life?


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  2. Hello,
    It doesnt sound like you do.
    If you read the Blogger Terms of Service it specifically states that it overrides other google terms of service and you retain ownership and control of blog content.
    With other google services this seems to have been reversed. It's best to ask around about this.

  3. Ea - there is so much talk now about privacy and the internet - it seems to me that there is a bargain one strikes up with google, and that is that they make our content easily knowable by people who would not otherwise have met - like you and me! - and in exchange, you give them content, details they can use for advertising and so on. I think it best to give out less info on stuff like facebook, but otherwise, I personally accept the bargain. It does mean, however, that the whole idea of copyright and intellectual property is up for grabs - perhaps we have to rethink what we mean by ownership of an image or an idea?