The important quote: "Looking at some of Google's competitors, it's clear that they need the exact same permissions — they just use slightly more artful language to communicate them."
All of these services need similar permissions, as do most web services: it's just an artifact of how our copyright law works. Google does a bad job of expressing that reality as nicely as others (like Dropbox), but with almost equivalent permissions, I'd put them pretty far down on the list of companies not to trust.
As laypersons, we may feel more comfortable when companies avoid legalese and use straight talk, but that doesn't mean we are any more safer or protected.
DropBox: You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services.
Google: The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.
Other providers clearly state that they are only taking rights to your work for the purpose of providing the service, right in the ToS. IANAL, but this seems important.
How is that different from the other providers, who (as you said, again) "clearly state that they are only taking rights to your work for the purpose of providing the service"? What is different about them which stops them from amending their policies?
No, you're not. You identified a crystal clear double standard in your parent post.
We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones,...
So it would seem to me that legally that's still a fairly wide scope for what they could potentially do under the umbrella of improving existing and developing new services.
I'd put them pretty far down on the list of companies not to trust.
I think this is the bottom line in both The Verge article and your comment - whether you trust the company is ultimately more important than the details of the ToS.
I store at the pleasure of the King.
They actually don't. Google specifically enumerates the rights that you're granting them. Dropbox actually does not state specifically what rights Dropbox needs to provide the services, and as such, could claim that you're granting all of the rights that Google has granted and more. This does not include full ownership, which they explicitly deny.
They sure do. It just turns out one of these rights is that they can use your content for promotional purposes (advertising?).
Dropbox may not have such a detailed TOS, but they are clear on one thing: whatever rights you do grant them are solely for the provision of the service to you.
Realistically, Dropbox won't ever do that. But the key thing here is that Dropbox's TOS does not explicitly state exactly what rights they believe they need to operate with.
That's very different from what you are describing.
Edit: Read stuartmemo's The Verge article if you're interested, it's pretty insightful.
You're thinking in terms of what reasonable uses the terms apply to. The problem is what UNreasonable uses are allowed by those who consent to those terms. Publish the entire private works (at least those docs stored on Google Drive) of yesbabyyes in a collectable volume? you agreed to it...
The only way I'd believe they won't do it is if they VERY publicly state that they won't in completely unequivocal terms such that they'll be held liable if they do.
This would be corporate suicide and Google won't do this unless they fall to the current status of the like of AOL. At which point we will all have moved on to the next shiny object.
Even without that, though -- what do you think would happen if they did what you're suggesting? I think the public punishment would be worse than any legal repercussions.
And that's what it comes down to, IMO. I regret that we have to have these far reaching policies and agreements filled with legalese, but there is also the social contract.
Of course, what you say about data mining for ads is true. If you don't want to expose yourself to that, don't expose your data to Google.
> Even without that, though -- what do you think would happen if they did what you're suggesting? I think the public punishment would be worse than any legal repercussions.
So your saying that TOS don't matter and we shouldn't read or analyse them because we trust Google wont do anything untoward? So we are we even having this discussion in the first place then?
I'm not so sure about that:
We collect information in two ways:
- Information you give us. [...]
- Information we get from your use of our services. [...]
We will ask for your consent before using information for a
Of course we should. And when we've read them, we should realize that if we want to use such services, we need to assign the provider certain rights to the content. Otherwise, the services couldn't exist. I'm just saying that I think the social contract is actually stronger, so the fallout from bad behavior would be worse punishment than the slaps on the wrist the US government would give. Of course, you don't have to agree with that, it's my belief.
> So we are we even having this discussion in the first place then?
Why indeed. Perhaps because more people have read lazy analyses such as the one linked, than honest analyses such as the one by The Verge (or even, gasp, read the whole actual TOS and made their on analysis), which several people has linked to in the comments. I suggest you read it.
Edit: Formatting, more nuanced language.
Most users will only consume part of the service, why should they have to agree to 100%?
Look, I get it: the chances of Google acting on these rights are small and the PR backlash for abuse would be brutal. But this is a great example of a legal department _far_ overreaching in their corporate protection efforts.
I really want to use GDrive, but even if the odds of abuse are unimaginable, I really hate that they make me sign a contract that makes me out to be a functional idiot. "Sign away all your legal rights--it's okay because you can trust us."
An advertiser once, against the FB terms of service, used a user's profile picture in their advertising. The advertiser was banned from the platform. Here's a news story that might jog your memory on this: http://mashable.com/2009/07/17/facebook-dating-ads-2/
I mean "publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content", how on earth can you formulate that so broadly for a service intended to store private files??? And how after reading that can you qualify it as "Complete FUD"?
In depth analysis are interesting and everybody here understand that google is not going to be THAT evil in the short term, but the fact this _is_ formulated like that is very interesting and not fud at all.
Dropbox, on the other hand, could, theoretically decide that they want to sell your information as a part of the service, and their TOS allows it.
Also keep in mind that this is Google's unified TOS for ALL Google services and products. So it includes Youtube and Google Music, both of which require those rights in order to function.
TOSes are generally overly broad, yes. Virtually every one you've ever agreed to had language that could be interpreted in an absurdly negative manner.
Well then they shouldn't have a problem amending the TOS, right? If they know what's okay and what's going too far, they must have some idea where the line is.
"TOSes are generally overly broad, yes. Virtually every one you've ever agreed to had language that could be interpreted in an absurdly negative manner."
Dropbox's TOS seems pretty clear on the matter.
Being extremely specific in TOSes tends to lead to lots and lots of revisions as you discover unexpected cases. As a user, I'd prefer a TOS that's a little more broad instead of having to monitor it every five minutes for tweaks.
> Dropbox's TOS seems pretty clear on the matter.
Dropbox's TOS for years was similar to Drive's. I'd expect Google to eventually make the same clarifications in the TOS Dropbox did in 2011.
That said, while we're being paranoid about TOSes, Dropbox's says they can change the terms at any point, and not notify you beyond updating them on their site. They could change the terms to "we will publicly share everything you've ever put on Dropbox with your worst enemies" tomorrow, and the next time you sync you're theoretically subject to the new terms.
If Google really means it, and wants it to be clear, they could put it right into the TOS: "Google may do X, when it does so in order to provide feature Y".
"The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."
As a programmer that uses Dropbox to backup all my code, I find this a little bit scary.
The way I see it, they could go through your code and use your secret sauce, in secret. Now, with these TOS, let's say they are in the clear, legally. Now weigh the punishment Dropbox would receive for breaching your copyright, vs the punishment they would receive for using their users'/customers' data immorally, for their own gain.
"Store your spreadsheets! Just like Joe Blow's 2012 sales forecast! (link to preview)"
eg. Rounding up non-gingers to be put in cages above pools of lava would be allowed
The bottom line is that you, as a user, have to grant such a license to Google, Flickr, etc in order for them to be able to provide the services that you want. Its a copyright issue, and I haven't seen any other good way around it in anyone else's TOS yet and I've read quite a few.
> The Verge: "Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox?"
Short answer: no.
GDrive: (GRANT ALL)..."the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."
Services vs. Service,
Promoting vs providing
will showing book drafts being created by me on Google Books is promoting/improving there service, yep.
Google may not do so ever, but you have to trust them instead of being on TOS.
Care to provide backup to this claim? Privacy issues and property rights on Google services seem very real to me.
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.
Dropbox has to justify anything it does with your work in terms of providing a service to you. Google can justify doing things with your data solely for it's own benefit.
Does anyone see anything specific that Dropbox can't do that Google can? That grant looks really broad to me, just ... friendlier.
Dropbox: "You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services."
I'm not sure there's any difference in intent or clarity here. I think it's clear that Dropbox is nicer about it. And because their product is smaller in scope maybe the rights they reserve seem less scary.
But really, I think this is a giant kerfuffle over nothing (fueled in no small part by the "Dropbox is on the HN team" feeling here). These licenses look almost 100% equivalent to me.
Google can broadcast TV ads with your private photos if they want to.
But if you insist on reading the license that uncharitably, you have to accept that Dropbox too can find plenty of wiggle room to be evil. Seriously, you're granting "all needed permissions" without enumeration -- you don't find that scary? What if Dropbox decides that "providing the service" requires revenue gained from scraping credit card numbers from stored files? See? I can come up with equally silly scenarios.
>Dropbox is clear what their intent is.
It seems that you have it backwards, Dropbox is not clear in their intent and the language is vague. I'm not sure what this means:
>You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services.
It seems that they can pretty much do whatever they want, as "Services" doesn't preclude anything.
>This permission also extends to trusted third parties we work with to provide the Services
That sounds like third parties can do whatever they want as well.
Despite what the TOS says on either end there are always going to be breaches, court orders, or potentially even employees with the power to access your files.
The trouble with building a truecrypt volume inside GDrive/Dropbox etc is that this makes the data completely opaque to the service. You give up all integration with google docs, easy sharing via links, collaboration, everything. Why use these services at all if you don't need the features they provide over and above basic backup?
(disclaimer: I know nothing about TrueCrypt).
«we don't claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don't control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.»
« we may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications, in order to: (a) comply with the law or respond to lawful requests or legal process; (b) protect the rights or property of Microsoft or our customers, including the enforcement of our agreements or policies governing your use of the service; or (c) act on a good faith belief that such access or disclosure is necessary to protect the personal safety of [ppl]»
These terms are across all of Google's services, and of course they need to state these sorts of things to keep themselves covered.
Because not many people are good at reading and at understanding what they read.
Which, here, is this:
Gmail or Google Docs/Drive or Google Apps are not among Google’s services that “allow you to submit content”. You don’t submit anything to them. A service like YouTube, on the other hand, is, and it obviously needs such terms in order to operate.
Yes but Dropbox doesn't have the reach and amount of data gathering power Google has. Google is actively monitoring hundreds to thousands of personal data gathering systems, whereas Dropbox is only a cloud storage system. There IMO lies the difference.
Clearly, this is lawyer boilerplate being taken out of context.
Yes, Gmail has the same issue. Google can use your data "to develop new services" for it's own benefit.
Which sounds nasty, until you realize they potentially need such language to be able to do something as simple as implementing a better spam filter, or offline syncing for your e-mail.
Furthermore, Google could, like dropbox, limit their use of your data to providing or improving the services they provide you. Spam filtering and syncing resonably fall in that category.
Google just recently went through a unification of their disparate privacy policies, terms of service, etc. I also don't see why Google wouldn't want to add services to Drive down the road...
Furthermore, as an explanation for why these policies should apply to drive, it begs the question.
So I give Dropbox full access to do things with my stuff? Seriously? IANAL, but doesn't that include more than what Google says?
Also note that Google has this line (you know, just above the paragraph that was quoted in the article): 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.
Why'd you leave out the "things you ask us to do" bit?
"You give us permission to kick you in the balls" sounds bad in a contract if you leave out the "because you're signing up to become a mixed martial arts combatant" bit, too.
But I am worried about having my Google account yanked out from under me. I'm simply not willing to depend on one capricious company with no customer support for email, phone, storage, online collaboration, chat, social etc. Ironically the harder Google tries to squeeze all their services together the less inclined I am to use any individual service.
Google is using a generic ToS for all their products, but it's not appropriate to products that host valuable intellectual property.
Ask for the base permissions you need and work from there. This is even more important when you're not a Google. Explain what you need and why to give them what they want from you, earn their trust and karma.
More importantly, if you sell off your company later, they will protect your users from those who might take a more liberal view of the TOS.
But that's so selective and does miss the part where they say your content and copyright is all yours, so it justifies picking on Google for being supposedly creepy.
This give Dropbox the ability to modify your images to create thumbnails as well if that's a part of their service. It also allows them to do whatever else they want without being explicit and hiding behind vague wording.
If that is the case then they need to make the user ACCEPT the new terms before this can be done. (This is what is happening whenever you are forced to accept an amended TOS before returning to a service.)