An alert reader, SentryWatch, commented per my last blog that the Terms of Service posted on the Google Docs and Spreadsheets site assigns content rights of anything saved on Doc and Spreadsheets to Google. It’s almost too incredible to believe, so here’s the wording from the mighty Google maw itself:
“… 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…”
Now, I’m not a lawyer, though I have been accused of that and more, so I encourage all you lawyerly types to check it out for yourself. There may be some wriggle room for Google on this, as they may have some internal distinction they mean to be making regarding the difference between services “intended to be available to the members of the public” -- which is the subject of this content land grab – and other unspecified “services” that aren’t intended to be available to the public. But as far as I can tell Google Apps are intended for the public, and their use gives Google the right to repurpose your content for their marketing or other purposes.
I’ve said it before – Google is the new evil empire – but now I really am beginning to believe it. I know that user agreements are typically ignored by most users, but anyone in the corporate world who ignores this risks seeing their IP in a Google marketing campaign, or worse.
All I can say is this: Are they out of their minds?