Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Burning Chrome

I've now seen in a few places (and been asked to comment) on this extract from Google's new browser Chrome's EULA: (see eg

The part people are worried about is

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

My opinion FWIW (without prejudice etc) is that this is harmless. The part in bold is the important bit. Yes Google are getting a (non exclusive) license to your content but ONLY to show off and advertise theur toy. This is a very common clause: in fact I'm told Google have it as a standard clause in all their contracts and I'm sure they do and it's bothered nobody.

I remember Hugh Hancock from machinama land asking me about a very similar clause in (I think) a MS machinima license. Basically if someone provides a free cool web service, they want to use your cool content to show off in demos to clients, on the web etc etc. And they don't want to have to come ask you for copyright permision. In return for a free service, this doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

There is also a very outside chance that Google are protecting *themselves* against a claim of copyright violation for their browser being used to make a copy of someone site who then claims he didn't give permission for that. In other words, normal uses of a web browser.

What it does *not* mean is that Google are grabbing the right to steal your entire video blogsite accessed via their browser, package it into a Richard and Judy bestseller book, turn that into a best selling film and retire on your profits :)

Rest easy kids.

EDIT: Google are apparently going to retrospectively clarify the issue.

EDIT 2: and apparently already have : " As of 2 p.m. PT, it looks like the terms have changed. Section 11 now reads simply: "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."


Anonymous said...

Interesting and balanced view, if I may say so. Others may take a different view. I am not an IP specialist (I get by) but interesting issues of contractual construction arise - and I think you have hit that nail on the head four square. Construing the clause properly gives the result, in contract, that you state.

Useful to have a professional IP view on it. Thanks for posting about this so quickly!

pangloss said...

I'm not a practicing Ip layer - I'm an academic It lawyer. But this seems to me the common sense interpretation of this term. The comments to the El Reg article are ludicrous.

Without prejudice..

CyberPanda said...

This is really an interesting view especially in the era of over-inflation of certain legal issues. Nonetheless, I do think that if Google did not amend the provisions, it would have led to a number of problems in the future including third party (ie non-Chrome users) right owners who may be bugged by use of their content by Google. You might find my posts (available at on the subject interesting.