Get A Clue, Google: Your EULA Policies Stink!

Get A Clue, Google: Your EULA Policies Stink!

Summary: It turns out that Google's Chrome, like Google's Apps, started life with the same ridiculous EULA, the one that gives GOOG the right to use any content you send to Chrome (and Apps as well) in any way that Google sees fit. They generously allowed you to retain the copyright on your content, just as long as you didn't care if Google used it for its marketing, promotional, or other (hedging operations?

TOPICS: Google

It turns out that Google's Chrome, like Google's Apps, started life with the same ridiculous EULA, the one that gives GOOG the right to use any content you send to Chrome (and Apps as well) in any way that Google sees fit. They generously allowed you to retain the copyright on your content, just as long as you didn't care if Google used it for its marketing, promotional, or other (hedging operations?) needs as it saw fit. Such a deal.

GOOG has since "amended" its EULA, claiming that they made a mistake when they took a boilerplate EULA and grafted it on to the Chrome EULA. I'm not sure that really excuses them: their boilerplate EULA is such a non-starter for anyone with the slightest concern for security and privacy that it shouldn't be the default for anything any vendor does with its customers' content. Period.

My colleague Dennis Howlett has blogged on this issue sufficiently for me to do no more than agree with his assertion that the last minute change doesn't change that much. Fundamentally, I think Google is either being stupid or malicious: either way they've got to more to protect their user's content. I'm sure the folks at GOOG are thinking that surrendering users' rights is a fair price for a free service, and I guess in their own stupid or malicious way they are right (either stupidly or maliciously so.)

Which brings me back to another point: it's time to end the rule of "free" on the Web and start thinking about whether there's a value in paying for good and services, and thereby, as the payee, retaining some legitimate control over what you do and what is done to you. I wrote a piece here about my recent problems with Craiglist, and I think this latest nonsense from GOOG is further proof that you get what you pay for -- and if the loss of privacy and security are the price of free, I'm ready to pay for my Web-based services. The alternative is to let GOOG and others like it do what they want under the guise of providing nominally useful free services.

You get what you pay for on the Web. And it's time to start paying.

Topic: Google

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  • If I didn't read this article, I wouldn't know this fact.

    And so would a lot of people who is going to use the
    browser. I think the press should push it harder on
    • The author did mention...

      that Google went back and updated the EULA. Now it is
      much more reasonable. EULAs from companies where you
      pay for a service or software use are rarely any
      better. Software is like the wild west...there are
      really no laws protecting the consumer beyond anti-
      trust, so it's anything goes for business. Software
      companies understand this well. This authors rant on
      Google could be applied to just about every software
      company out there, regardless as to whether or not
      their software or services are free.
      • Outrageous EUILAs

        Too true, and it has been almost since the finger blister computers that didn't even have a bootstrap loader. The provisions of software "licenses" and "sales" have always been totally outrageous. No one would buy a car that advertised that there was no warranty of merchantability, or fitness for use for a particular (read "any") purpose. Software development has its costs, and the companies that produce it should be able to recoup those costs, but why should the purchases sacrifice all rights while the manufacturers are doing that?

        If I buy a pair of shoes that doesn't fit, I can legally give them away. Not so with my software. (Not that anyone ever gets prosecuted on that provision, but it's still there.) If I buy groceries, I do not have to sacrifice my right to privacy to the grocery chain for that privilege (unless I choose to use my special cards to get discounts <G>). Why should I have to allow the software provider to access, collect, and use all the data that they can as the cost of doing business with them?

        The main problem is that the EULAs have never been taken into court so that rulings could be made on the worst provisions, and until the software users get angry enough to do just that, ANY developers/marketers will continue to inflict the slings and arrow of outrageous EULAs on us.
  • I'm surprised that Microsoft doesn't exploit more

    that obvious Achilles' heel of Google. Microsoft could very well offer, for a reasonable price, the same services Google offers and use its EULA to differentiate itself. Starting an advertisement campaign outlining that aspect would, I think, catch the attention of small businesses that have legal constraints incompatible with the EULA of Google.
    • lol...

      Have you actually read some of Microsoft's EULAs? The
      reason they don't go after Google on this issue can be
      summed up in two houses.
      • I was implying that Microsoft would have to change its EULA.

        At least for the services provided online.
  • Does paying help?

    You mention EBay and Craigslist as two examples, lets run with that. You pay EBay to sell on their site, Craigslist is free. Is Ebay "better" or more secure from fraud and scams? Not that I can tell.

    Paying vs. free seems to make little difference between these two.

    I hate to say it but I think nothing will change unless laws are put in place requiring commerence sites to to meet minimal standards for security and what they may or may not do with your personal information.
  • "You get what you pay for" is wrong

    The true statement is "you don't get what you don't pay for."

    I don't think money will make these problems magically disappear. Why is a company going to get rid of a revenue stream just because they go pay? Some might, most will not.
  • Patent Reform Act & Coalition for Patent Fairness

    ... just thought I'd throw that in ... if more people read the EULA
    agreements maybe we could have a real discourse on intellectual
    property in general & the rights (including privacy) of individuals more
    particularly ...

    Submitting a bug report that may be patentable subject matter or
    copyrighted - YOU SHOULD OWN THAT ... anyone who disagrees is
    FREE to do what they do for FREE ...

    BUT, the real innovation, as is increasingly clear to those who are now
    reading these ridiculous agreements, comes from individuals who are
    simply not being given the right tools to register and or file for
    protection as every one of these large companies doesd on a regular

    Wake up & value your own time & consideration & perhaps a real
    debate can ensue ... and understand that you too should share in the
    upside of YOUR (OUR) Internet ...
  • The EULA halted my chrome installation

    Unless the eula changes more drastically, I won't be using chrome, v1 either.
  • Mr Greenbaum makes an example of a Google EULA,

    which certainly needed to be modified and in fact was modified, due to user outcry. But I am saddened to see that he does not cast his impartial eye over the EULAs used by such firms as [b]Microsoft[/b] and [b]Adobe[/b] - to name just two examples - that purport to tell people what they may or may not do with products they have duly purchased. The simple trick of ?licensing? their products at rates tens of thousands of times the marginal cost of production rather than selling them, and then strictly restricting their reuse has allowed these firms to milk the public in a manner which can only be dealt with by a new Teddy Roosevelt - the European Commission isn't even in the same league when it comes to consumer protection. But of this, not a word from Mr Greenbaum. Given his industry affiliations, I am hardly surprised....

    • WoW, you don't understand software development do you?

      Having plowed a few million dollars of development into my software product - which sells for $3500 - obviously thousands of times more than my production costs, I'm obviously ripping off my small market by trying to get back some of those development costs.

      You really can't be that stupid surely. Microsoft has every right to recoup its development and ongoing support costs and even make a profit as well.
  • RE: Get A Clue, Google: Your EULA Policies Stink!

    Contract law says that you can not be entered into a contract by deceitful practices, such as non-viewable shrinkwraps.

    Courts have ruled that you do own that specific copy of the software which you purchased. In the United States, once you own a copy of a program, you can back it up, compile it, run it, and even modify it as necessary, without permission from the copyright holder. See 17 USC 117. What you do not own is resale rights (like mineral rights and property rights, you can own the top but not the underlying wealth), and you do not own rights to upgrades, support, etc. Unless you contract for it. According to the CONTU Final Report, which is generally interpreted by the courts as legislative history, ``the right to add features to the program that were not present at the time of rightful acquisition'' falls within the owner's rights of modification under section 117.

    Ten years ago, the SPA convinced Louisiana to subvert the will of Congress by passing a law that declared shrinkwrap licenses enforceable. In Vault v. Quaid, 847 F.2d 255 (5th Cir. 1988), this law was struck down. Federal copyright law preempts state law.

    Now, if I buy a car, and the body rusts out, does that mean I have to throw the engine away? Why are property rights to software any different? Answer, they are not.

    Something to think about. Anyway, read the license language used by private developers who sell to the government. If there is no reason to argue this point, then why does the government license language differ?