Burned by Chrome

Burned by Chrome


Your copyright goes up in smoke


Astute Reg readers have pointed out a Chrome condition of service that effectively lets Google use any of your copyrighted material posted to the web via Chrome without paying you a cent.


Here’s the relevant section 11.1 of the Chrome EULA:

11. Content licence from you

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.

Image of HAL eye from 2001 movie with Chrome logo in eye

Granting 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’ Chrome is coming it rich.

Suppose Google does this to material you have posted that’s not yours? No problem. It has a get-out-of-jail card signed by you in section 11.4 of the EULA:

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.

But you may be posting material via Chrome to your employer’s site and it owns the copyright of anything you create in work time. What then if Google adapts, modifies and distributes it? Your fan has brown stuff all over it but none of it sticks to Google.

Back in 2001, El Reg first revealed how Microsoft’s new single sign-on Passport, used for all its web services including Hotmail, also appeared to grab your intellectual property. Microsoft issued a reworded Terms of Use a few days later. Similar land-grabs have been attempted other operators including MySpace, amongst others.

Copyright-sensitive sysadms may banish Chrome from their networks because of this. Google’s been asked how it fits in with its general ‘Do no evil’ ethic but wasn’t immediately able to respond – because they’re not in their office yet.®

Bootnote: Google used very similar wording when it launched Orkut. But nobody seemed to care.

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