The difference between Google Drive’s and SkyDrive’s TOS – is nothing

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Reading some comments on the web about the new Google Drive, the entire web has decided to go all crazy and examine the terms and service of both companies. And some people have been offering this as the point of difference between the two services.

On Google’s Terms of Service:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

… in comparison to SkyDrive‘s:

Except for material that we license to you, we don’t claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don’t control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.

Those two fragments were used in almost every post. And it sounds pretty scary, you would have thought that Google’s own Terms of Service would say that it owns your entire content, unlike SkyDrive – who even say that you claim ownership.

Well, even I as a Google skeptic, read the terms of service and note that these people are massive liars. If you read the paragraph before that big chunk from Google’s Terms of Service, you would have also noted that they also profess that they do not claim ownership:

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

SkyDrive’s own Terms of Service – which is coupled with Windows Live, on the other hand, also gives itself a licence to modify, host and adapt the work to provide and maintain the service:

You control who may access your content. If you share content in public areas of the service or in shared areas available to others you’ve chosen, then you agree that anyone you’ve shared content with may use that content. When you give others access to your content on the service, you grant them free, nonexclusive permission to use, reproduce, distribute, display, transmit, and communicate to the public the content solely in connection with the service and other products and services made available by Microsoft. If you don’t want others to have those rights, don’t use the service to share your content.

You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service.

Really loving the fact that Microsoft basically says that if you don’t want other people to access the file, don’t use SkyDrive to share the content.

So, why is it there? Well, it is to cover their own butts from legal action. You know those ads where it promotes free-range chicken in their burgers, you would have noticed the fine print “unless emergency stock”. It’s just ways to make sure they don’t slap with a frivolous lawsuit.

Plus, logically speaking, if they decide to own your content – they would be a massive backlash from everyone in the tech media, rather than some fanboys on comments.

I should also note: both don’t put in guarantees that your data will not be deleted even if you leave the service. Google explicitly says this, while Microsoft uses the term ‘may’ – which basically means, ‘we can do it, but sometimes we do not’. Though, again, it could also be to cover their tracks, because sometimes companies use an old backup if there was something wrong, and if you cancelled your account, your data could be on that backup and placed back onto the server.

And yes, both will collect data on you while using the service. I only host only critical work on these services – like my assignments, so unless they want to spam my inbox with messages of homework cheats, I’ll be just fine.

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