Google Drive Terms Of Service Let Google Do Whatever It Likes With Your Files

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Store a file in your Google Drive and you grant Google a license to do anything with it
Store a file in your Google Drive and you grant Google a license to do anything with it.

Yesterday, Google launched the near-mythical Google Drive, a 5GB Dropbox alternative with some impressive features: OCR and searching of the text in even scanned documents, (searchable) image recognition in photos, and integration with most of Google’s other services.

But there’s something else hidden in Google Drive which may make you think twice about using all these wonderful new toys: The rather scary terms of service (TOS), which gives Google a license to use all of your stored documents and photos for pretty much whatever it likes.

The [full TOS][www.google.com] are pasted at the end of this post, but the relevant part for users of regular, personal Google accounts is here:

> When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Translation: you’re effectively ceding copyright and any other form of control you have over your personal documents to Google. Worse, any document created by someone else is also made subject to these conditions, just by storing it in your GDrive:

> Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

If this rings a bell, it’s because Dropbox did the [same thing](http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=846) last year, quickly climbing down and claiming that it was all just a silly misunderstanding.

Google does at least say that these conditions are solely for “the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones,” but as terms of service can change, I’d be a little worried about this claim.

I’m as excited as anyone about the cool search features of the Google Drive, but there’s no way I’m going to put anything important in my personal Google Drive until this section of the TOS is scrubbed. If you’re using a Google Apps account though, whether paid or free, the TOS make no claims on your personal data.

Still, we can afford to wait: Until Google Drive is integrated into almost every app store app that deals with files, then it won’t come close to being as useful or ubiquitous as Dropbox.

Google’s full [Google Drive terms of service][www.google.com]:

**Your Content in our Services**

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.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

[blog.dropbox.com]: http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=846
[www.google.com]: http://www.google.com/policies/terms/