Google docs: coming to terms

Like many people, I don’t often read the details of click-to-accept terms of service boilerplate.  For one thing, there’s not much choice (no click, no service for you to come to terms with).  For another, I know all too well that the terms were drafted either by amateurs, or by Company D, Battalion 27 of the vendor’s legal department.

Boilerplate, though not from GoogleToday, partly for a side project and partly out of morbid curiosity, I copied the terms of service for a Google account — you know, those “don’t be evil” folks.

It has 4,220 words.  That means it’s slightly shorter than the Constitution — without its amendments, but including those parts now repealed by an amendment.

Some of it’s reasonable — you accept the terms by clicking “I accept,” or by using the service anyway.  You also agree that Google can change any part of its service (4.1), or stop providing any part (4.3) without telling you in advance. Google can also limit how much use you make of its services “at any time, at Google’s discretion.”

Magnanimously, Google agrees that you can stop using its services without notifying Google.  Somewhat less magnanimously, though perhaps pragmatically, you agree to allow Google to copy anything you put into Google Documents:

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 which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services [meaning Google’s applications]. 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.

Shouldn’t someone in Battalion 27 have spell-checked “license,” which is spelled incorrectly throughout the terms of service?

I’m not really too worried about these terms, but there sure are a lot of them.  it’s one of the reasons I don’t ahve a gmail account.  I’d just as soon not have machines belonging to Google scanning each email I send in order to send me useful, targeted ads.

Photo of boilerplate by ktpupp / Kate Sumbler.