Alright, I’ve got another
conspiracy theory misconception to dispel. After reading through the Chrome Terms of Service, some people are worried that Google is trying to assert rights on everything that you do on Chrome. From one example story by Marshall Kirkpatrick:
The terms include a section giving Google “a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” That seems pretty extreme for a browser, doesn’t it?
I knew that Google didn’t want to assert rights on what people did using Google Chrome, so I asked the Chrome team and Google lawyers for their reaction or to clarify (probably several other people pinged them too). Here’s what I heard back from Rebecca Ward, the Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome:
“In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don’t apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome.”
I hope that addresses the concerns that I’ve seen on a few places around the web. I appreciate that people pored through the Chrome license to find anything that looked unclear and then raised concerns so that Google could respond.
Update: I did this post quickly because I had to go to a meeting. Coming back to read what I wrote, I think I was too strident (both here and commenting a few places around the web) and I apologize for that. As a long-time Googler, I knew that Google wouldn’t want rights to everything that somebody did in Chrome. It also seemed like there had been incidents like this in the past and they always got cleared up quickly.
But it was clearly a mistake on Google’s part to include that language when it shouldn’t have been there, and I should have been grateful to the people that pointed it out. Instead of getting snippy with people, my reaction should have been more along the lines of “Oh crap, I don’t think that’s intentional. Thank you so much for noticing that and pointing it out. I’ll see if we can get an official clarification or reaction as soon as possible.” I apologize for that, and I appreciate the people who push Google to be better.
Update, September 3rd 2008: Earlier today, Google changed section 11 of the EULA to read as follows:
11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
I think that text is much better.
Update, September 4th 2008: Google provides a full explanation of how this happened and how they’ve corrected the Google Chrome End User License Agreement (EULA).