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Does Google Own Your Content? 160

Posted by Zonk
from the err-i-have-to-go-make-some-copies dept.
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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Does Google Own Your Content?

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  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yahooBLUE.com minus berry> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:24PM (#20400043) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bariswheel (854806)
      I'm just not too fond of the suggestive title of this post.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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!
    • by peterprior (319967) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:41PM (#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.
    • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:07PM (#20400721) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by Dekortage (697532)

      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

    • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:30PM (#20401045) Journal

      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".
    • 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

    • by timeOday (582209)

      "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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by annachie (79931)
      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 us
      • by rtb61 (674572)
        What is also interesting, is while goggle feels it is entitled to use and change any work you make accessible to the public via their services, you however are expressly forbidden from doing the same "Except as expressly authorized by Google or other proper third party rights holders, you agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on Content, Google services or Software, in whole or in part except as specifically authorized in a separate written agreement.", fa
    • by tholomyes (610627)

      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

    • 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.

      • by ChatHuant (801522)
        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.

        FUD, pure and simple; here's the relevant part of the Live license, from MS's web site here [live.com].


        8. Your Materials.

        You may be able to submit materials for use in connection with the service. Except for material that we license to you, we do not claim ownership of the materials you post or otherwis
        • You are sort of correct... their TOU have changed since the last time I checked (which was a couple months ago - and I copied and pasted it as it was at the time someplace here on slashdot... but I can only pull up my last 24 posts - brings me to my user account when I search for my own)...

          But, even with the changes, the following term could still be construed in a similar fashion:

          use, copy, distribute, display, publish and modify your submission, each in connection with the service; publish your name in connection with your submission; and grant these permissions to other persons.

          Use, distribute or publish are the three "vague" ones. Use can cover many aspects of... well, use.

          Publish holds the less

    • by notnAP (846325)
      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

    • 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 th
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dausha (546002)
      "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 c
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zibblsnrt (125875)
        One thing I'm wondering about that would be enforcement.

        Say I write a story - and, by extension, own it - and I publish it someplace where Google's non-exclusive transfer (or the non-exclusive transfer of anyone else with similar clauses) applies. Time passes, and some third party files my name off what I right and starts doing something actionable copyright-wise with it.

        Who would get to go after that legally? Would it be me, Google (or whoever), both, whoever managed to shoot for it first...?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dausha (546002)
          "Who would get to go after that legally? Would it be me, Google (or whoever), both, whoever managed to shoot for it first...?"

          Interesting question. Both would likely have a cause of action as both have the right, but once one engages, joinder could prevent the other (after a while).
        • by Mjec (666932)

          Time passes, and some third party files my name off what I right and starts doing something actionable copyright-wise with it.

          Who would get to go after that legally? Would it be me, Google (or whoever), both, whoever managed to shoot for it first...?

          That would be you. The copyright owner. They have a right to distribution but this does not give them any other rights. All moral rights remain vested in you and this third party has breached your moral rights.

          This truly is much ado about nothing. This clause in the agreement is designed to pre-empt Google News cases a la Belgium for things like blogger search. Simple as that. Really, really not an issue. I guarantee it*.

          * I actually don't make any guarantee, because doing so would be stupid, but that

    • by hedwards (940851)
      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 al
    • by Random832 (694525)
      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.
  • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:28PM (#20400103) Journal
    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...
    • by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:03PM (#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.
      • [...]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).
        • 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
          • 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
            • That sort of things is always interesting- and to the best of my knowledge the courts have sided with Yahoo/Google in most of those cases. From the consumer's perspective, if they are looking for a widget, and Acme Widgets have them for $100, and Widgets 'R' Us has them for $120, the consumer benefits from seeing a link to Acme's website when looking for Widgets 'R' Us in a search engine. (Now if it's false representation, that is fraud, and another topic entirely. ) It's as if you're in a grocery store
              • At least in one case, it was rather a split decision. In GEICO vs. Google, the judge ruled that Google could legally sell the trademark as an adword to a competitor but "may be guilty of trademark infringement" when using it in the resulting sponsored links. Google's requirement giving them carte blanch to use your published content would probably eliminate the possibility of being guilty of trademark infringement (no doubt one of Google's CTA goals). I can't imagine any company would ever normally agree
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:28PM (#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.
  • Nothing to see here? (Score:5, Informative)

    by niceone (992278) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:30PM (#20400145) Journal
    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.
    • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:58PM (#20400601) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • Did you read the paragraph in the GP?

        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.

        So, yes they can syndicate it. They can resell it to others very easily as well. All they have to do is offer it as a service. Don't think that this includes selling it? Well, if you are selling a service, what promotes that service better than, hmm, content?

        I really don't care that someone at Google said they wouldn't do so, and that this is just a CYA to be able to provide a channel for others to obtain access to your work. That's BS, otherwise this would be writ

  • Hm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by goldaryn (834427)
    > 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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:00PM (#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.

  • by JamesRose (1062530) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:34PM (#20400217)
    Does slashdot grossly sensationalise stories?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Only in the UK. Here it grossly sensationalizes them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by gowen (141411)

        Only in the UK. Here it grossly sensationalizes them.
        In Soviet Russ . OWWW OWWW STOP THAT ... OWWW, THAT HURTS ... QUIT IT #^47NO CARRIER
    • by saddino (183491)
      No, but ZDNet does.
    • by chad_r (79875)
      That's rhetorical, right? Then I shall answer you in kind: Are you new here?
    • Does slashdot grossly sensationalise stories?


      Is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope s**t in the woods?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:44PM (#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.
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:51PM (#20400469) Homepage Journal
    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?

    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:52PM (#20401371) Homepage

      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.

      • by SharpFang (651121)
        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.
        • by Todd Knarr (15451)

          On all media? Maybe. Is a downloadable file a different media from a real-time stream? If it is and YouTube wants to support browsers that don't have streaming plug-ins but do have viewers, they'll need that right.

          In all formats? Definitely. WMA is a different format than QuickTime is a different format than RealMedia, and if they want to offer translation of the content into a format the user can view without requiring the uploader to supply all possible formats they're going to need that right.

          Sublicens

          • by SharpFang (651121)
            Then enumerate all media you want to use, and put a clause about possibility of extending the list with prior notice.
            Enumerate the formats as well.
            Enumerate sublicensees. YouTube France is okay. MTV or record labels is not.
            Youtube needs only a tiny subset of the rights it grants itself. It is very easy to write a list of entries instead of 'all'. You may be a bit fuzzy in places (say, "all international units of YouTube") but if you blow the word "all" you're not being "a bit" fuzzy, you're just doing the "
    • by LMacG (118321)
      Billy Bragg [nytimes.com] read the MySpace terms of service, thought through the consequences, and did something about it.
    • Hmm, I think the notion behind that protest VASTLY overrates the quality of material on YouTube or indeed many UGC sites.
    • On the other hand, you can see why YouTube would need this--otherwise they couldn't even use their own website to promote itself, to say nothing of showing the skateboarding dog on iPhone commercials.
  • Do what I did (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eggplant62 (120514) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:55PM (#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?
  • 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.
  • by taustin (171655) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:24PM (#20400957) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:20PM (#20401815) Homepage

    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?


  • 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 Product
  • Hello from Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by schillace (1149417) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:44PM (#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.
  • by geekoid (135745)
    possession is 9/10th.
  • I'm not a fan of contests, I don't have the time to waste anyway, but an eye opener is most CG animation contest require "all" entrants to surrender rights to their work. You can still use the videos yourself but they are free to use they as they want including distributing them on for sale DVDs. It's one thing to make that condition on the winners but it's startling giving them the rights to your work just by entering. Definitely read the fine print because some don't make this condition but the majority o
  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @05:50PM (#20404875) Homepage Journal
    It's an old story. People in power find a way to prevent you and me from profiting from our own creations, by controlling the distribution channels.

    The music recording industry is the poster child for this. Until recently, selling recordings required expensive production and distribution facilities. The owners of these facilities could say "You want people to hear and buy your music? Sign this contract and we'll make it happen." You might as well sign the contract, because it's the same for all the other distributors. And in the fine print, it says that you assign the copyright to the recording company. The result is that musicians can make a million-selling album and make no money from it at all. This is because the recording companies can say "If you want your stuff distributed, you must give it to us."

    Almost all work "for hire" to corporations are of this nature. If you want to be paid, you have to assign ownership to your employer. If you're a university researcher, and you want to be paid, you usually must assign copyright and patents to the university. Unless, that is, you got funding on your own, in which case you must assign copyright and patents to the funder. And if you want your results published, almost all academic publishers have historically required that you assign the copyright to them. "If you want your stuff distributed, you must give it to us."

    Now we have a new means of distribution, the Internet. That promised to give us a cheap distribution mechanism that wasn't controlled by the distributors. But For most of us, to use the Internet requires going through something called an "ISP". Those organizations, usually private companies, have a chokehold on your path to the Internet. Early on in the commercialization of the Internet, the ISPs started to realize what they had. Thus, a few years ago, we read the stories of msn.com (owned by Microsoft) using things from customers' web sites commercially. They mostly extracted images and used them in advertising. When customers discovered images of their children being used in ads, they understandably got upset. And msn.com pointed to the clause in the contract saying that any customer files stored on msn.com machines became the property of msn.com. After a bit of adverse publicity, the "gave in", in the sense that they publicly announced that they wouldn't do this again. But this was like any corporate promise: It was PR to mollify the current crowd of upset customers. After a while, people started noticing that that clause was still in the TOS. And it can be summarized as "If you want your stuff distributed, you must give it to us. You can't go to the competition, because their contracts say the same thing."

    So this story is nothing new. ISPs are more and more realizing that they have a chokehold on customers' channel to the rest of the world. Most people have only one ISP, which is a legal monopoly. Even when there are two, they can easily make sure that their contracts are identical. Like various monopolists/oligopolists of the comm channels before them, they can say "If you want your stuff distributed, you must give it to us. You can't go to the competition, because their contracts say the same thing."

    It now seems like google, the "Do no evil" company, has realized the same thing. They can provide customers useful tools that inprove people's access to the Internet. And they can hide "If you want your stuff distributed, you must give it to us" in their contract. You can't go to the competition, because their contracts say the same thing.

    The only way around this is regulation that denies the controllers of the Internet any ownership of things that pass through their machines. But this sort of regulation has never been effective for any past distribution system. There's no reason to expect that it will be effective for the Internet.

    So much for your rights to your own creations. Get used to it; it's the future. Just like the past.

  • Well, with recent court rulings in favor of consumers concerning binding arbitration in cell phone contracts (I think The Consumerist [consumerist.com] covered this, but I don't have a link to the article), I'm not so worried as I once was. Basically, the play goes as follows:
    1. I post content.
    2. Google steals said content.
    3. I sue Google for infringement.
    4. Google moves for summary judgment because I agreed to that behavior in the user agreement.
    5. Move that that part of the agreement is unconscionable, and, if possible, try to get

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