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Chrome's EULA is a cut 'n' paste showstopper

When I said that CXO's wouldn't give Google Chrome a nanosecond's thought, I under-estimated. They'll give it about five seconds and then pass straight to the corporate legal department.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor on

When I said that CXO's wouldn't give Google Chrome a nanosecond's thought, I under-estimated. They'll give it about five seconds and then pass straight to the corporate legal department. Why? EULA Clause 11.1:

You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

[My emphasis added.] Given that the smart money is saying this is Google's move on delivering an OS for the web that happens to have a browser, just how many corporate legal departments are going to allow web apps to run across a service with these terms? I can tell you now: zero.

Think about it for one moment. Google will claim that 'services' merely means advertising but can you trust Google with your data when they're explicitly saying they'll mine it for their own purposes? Marshall Kirkpatrick picks up the beat but in my opinion is nowhere near strong enough in his condemnation:

Such terms might make sense for user uploaded video sites, for example, but language like this always raises concerns. In the context of an entire browser it seems absolutely absurd. Passwords, financial information, you name it - these kinds of things Google can't be given any right to, can they? Though it's framed in terms of "promoting Google services," we don't think that condition is a clear enough limit on the rights being claimed.

I first vented on this issue almost exactly a year ago. Read what it says above and then compare with the extract I used at the time, taken from the terms used for Google Docs and Spreadsheets. The terms are almost identical. I have to ask myself: what's the matter with Google's legal department? Do they honestly think this will simply get glossed over? Or is it a sign of what appears to be a growing arrogance at the Googleplex?

I've never bought into the 'Do No Evil' mantra, it's an absurdity for a company like Google to pretend that's how they see life. Even so, this cynical disregard for IP rights is dangerous because it strikes directly at the heart of what corporations consider confidential. Note also the contrast with the way Google itself behaves. You can barely walk through the door without promising to never reveal a thing that you see or hear. C'mon Google, time to take the toungue out of the cheek and start listening to the folk who keep you afloat. In enterprisey land, we ain't playing that no-win hand.

Over at the predictably strident Register, Chris Mellor thinks: "Google's EULA sucks." I have to agree while thanking him for providing a wholly appropriate image (used above).

In the meantime, I'm hoping Josh Greenbaum will chime in. He's been pretty vocal about this in the past.

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