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Terms of Service: Google Drive, Gmail, and Your Intellectual Property

Google’s simplified Terms of Service arguably give the company the right to compete against you using your own intellectual property…if you store your content in the new Google Drive or include it in an email attachment.

Here’s the key part found in the Terms of Service under “Your Content in our Services.”

“…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
…”

If you’re confident in Google’s unofficial “Don’t Be Evil” policy, then perhaps there’s nothing to worry about. On the other hand, the license seems to give Google the right to take your content to compete against you, or even give the content to others (“those we work with”) to become your competitors.

If this isn’t what Google intended, the Terms of Service needs to be revised to clearly state what Google plans to do with your intellectual property.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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