Should you be worried about Google Drive’s Terms of Service?

Google-drive-logoThere's been some discussion here at G&E about Google Drive's Terms of Service, and whether or not we should be worried. Here's the specifc part that's got people putting on their tin foil hats:

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.

But what does this mean? Is Google going to steal all our family photos and use them in one of their touchy-feely Chrome commercials? Do we really lose the rights to anything that we store on Google Drive? Did Google suddenly decide to be evil?

Not so fast! If we continue reading through the ToS, we find another clause:

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.

Here's what is happening: Google is not trying to claim ownership of your personal information or documents. It does, however, occasionally need to access your files and reproduce them when they're backing up their cloud storage systems – you do want Google to have back-ups in case of a system failure, don't you? It also occasionally needs to modify your files when generating thumbnails of your photos or documents. And when you use Google Translate, it's creating derivative works.

Google is not guilty of stealing your stuff; it's just guilty of confusing people. Part of this is due to the fact that Google now has a single user agreement that covers almost all of its services, so the same Terms of Service that applies to Google Drive also applies to Gmail, Google+, YouTube, etc. In other words, Google is actually trying to simplify things.

You still have every right to be scared of Google if you want, but then I'd think twice about owning an HTC EVO or any other Android device. And also, just so you know, other cloud services aren't necessarily any better.

[Google]
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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.