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Who Owns the Files I Put on Google Drive?

Google recently announced Google Drive, a cloud service that competes with Amazon, Dropbox and SkyDrive. Google Drive, like those other services, offer users an easy way to store digital content.


All types of files–music, documents and more–can be saved on Google Drive. 

What is a cloud? A cloud service is a remote storage location that lets you place digital content and retrieve it from anywhere using a computer and an Internet connection. As cloud services become more popular, it’s definitely a space that Google wants to be in. But Google is facing questions from users about Google Drive and content ownership. Put simply, the question on many users’ minds is, “Does Google own my stuff if I upload it to Google Drive?”

The Fine Print
Google’s Terms of Use (TOU), which were last modified on March 1st, specifically the section entitled “Your Content in Our Services,” read as follows:

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 that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

According to Google’s TOU, they can basically do whatever they want with your content: keep it (“store”), copy it (“reproduce”), change it (“modify”) or give it away (“distribute”). Google has stated they are using user content to improve their services and offer an even more personalized experience. The TOU also point out that the terms of Google’s ownership are long-term:

The rights that 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 that you have added to Google Maps).

So if you decide to no longer use Google Drive, Google will still retain rights to use your content. In other words, to paraphrase the famous Las Vegas marketing line, what gets stored with Google Drive stays with Google.

Privacy Policies & Property Rights 
Google’s Privacy Policy deals more with user privacy than stored digital content. However, under “Modifying and Terminating Our Services,” Google states, “We believe that you own your data, and preserving your access to such data is important.This is confusing to say the least. Google’s Terms of Use also state that “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”   So Google, which is it?

Don’t get us wrong: we love and use Google’s search and Chrome is our default browser. But for a cloud service, we’ll stick to Dropbox for now. How do you store your content?

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

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