When will the lawyers learn?

4 09 2008

Back in the dark past of my days as a journalist, I remember writing about Hotmail’s terms of use. The included a fun clause that gave Microsoft joint copyright over anything you sent through Hotmail: email someone your screenplay, Microsoft can make a movie. Thankfully some people do read these things before clicking “Agree”; there was outcry; and the clause was quietly withdrawn.

Here we are, what must be 10 years later, and Google puts a clause up with Chrome that, according to the Sydney Morning Herald,

… stipulated that Google had a perpetual right to use any content entered into the browser – quickly earned Google a slap on the wrist from early adopters.

The search giant quickly did an about-face, modifying that section of its terms of service to say the user retained all rights to the content.

It said the issue arose because Google liked to use the same set of legal terms for all of its products in order to keep things simple for users. Sometimes that meant some terms did not apply well to the use of a specific product.

Sure, that makes sense: thrifty Google recycling one legal document to use on something else. Brilliant. I might save some money on lawyers by using my lease as my will. Smart.

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3 responses

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