A fair amount of loud people are up in arms over alleged badness in the Google Drive terms of service. I’ve been one to criticize user-unfriendly TOS in the past, and I took a quick look at things. Articles such as this one on CNet are fueling the ZOMG Google owns all my stuff fires.
My interpretation1 of the terms is that they’re on par with most services that host content – Google doesn’t claim ownership of user-shared content, but does grant itself a rather broad license to manipulate and use that content in any way that it sees fit in connection with the service. This is comparable (and similar language) to many other online services.
For reference, here are the current Google terms of service.
Note that I didn’t say the Google Drive terms of service. There’s one terms of service agreement for all Google services. I’m not going to tell you how to interpret their terms, but if you interpret them to mean that Google owns all of your Google Drive content, you also acknowledge:
- Google owns all of your YouTube videos
- Google can do anything it wants with your Picasa photos
- Google is free to use all of your Gmail messages for any purpose
- Your Blogger content belongs to Google
- Everything else you create on any Google property falls under these same conditions
If that’s how you interpret the terms of service, that’s your prerogative. But there’s nothing unique about Google Drive. If you’re going to scream loudly about the terms of service as they apply to Google Drive, be sure that you understand that this situation reaches far wider than just the brand-new storage service.
I am most definitely not a lawyer. ↩