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Who Owns The Files You Upload to Google Drive?

by Adriana Lee | April 25, 2012April 25, 2012 1:45 pm PDT

Whenever something much-anticipated finally lands, some sort of issue or scandal always pops up shortly afterward. And Google Drive is no exception. Some people are taking huge issue with a particular nugget in the Terms of Service: It seems to indicate that, if you use the service to upload files, you’re giving the Mountain View company the right to do whatever it wants with them. Adding more peskiness to the mix, it also seems that taking the files down doesn’t negate these terms.

Google recently revamped its TOS to cover all of its services (instead of having different ones for each), but the part that has everyone upset is this:

“Your Content in our Services: 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.

The rights that you grant in this licence are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This licence continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps).”

As stated, the license is limited to purposes of improving Google services, but there’s nothing that clearly defines what the content’s usage would be in that pursuit. And that’s what all the fuss has been about.

Compare that to SkyDrive and Dropbox, which very specifically state that they do not own your content:

From the Dropbox TOS:

“Your Stuff & Your Privacy: By using our Services you provide us with information, files, and folders that you submit to Dropbox (together, “your stuff”). You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it. These Terms do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services, as explained below.”

From the Microsoft SkyDrive TOS:

“5. Your Content: Except for material that we license to you, 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.”

Upset? Shocked? You’re not alone. When Silicon Alley Business Insider questioned Google about this issue, the spokesperson cited another passage in the Google TOS to help illuminate the situation:

“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.”

Maybe the big thing Google’s guilty of here is confusing people. Seems the issue sprang up because Google’s blanket TOS covers all of its services, not just GDrive, so there’s language in there that could alarm people. But ultimately, the company is saying it isn’t trying to rip off your files or do sketchy things with it.

Do you believe it? Does this ease your mind about who owns GDrive content, or will you forego the service, just to be on the safe side anyway? Weigh in.

[via SAI Business Insider, ZDNet]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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