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[Writing Blog] Why I’m Not a Fan of Online Shared Servers or Docs Programs

Posted by reudaly on October 20, 2010 in Writing |

I started drafting a blog post last night that’s now completely derailed. I may resurrect it at a later date, but a new topic’s come up and I wanted to talk about it. Why I’m not a fan of Google, Google Docs, or – basically – anything “Cloud” related.

Now, I’ve embraced a lot of the online world. You can’t be a writer (or much of anything else) in this day and age without being on all the social networks and dealing with technology. However, I’ve been trying to be wise in my use of these incredible services with just a wee measure of “healthy” paranoia. I don’t think Joe Fan is going to go out and steal my work and such. HOWEVER, I do draw the line at handing over the possibility to some of the bigger, profit-hungry corporations.

Today, I was reminded why I don’t post many photos on Facebook or Twitter that I might need for “professional” purposes. Or anything more than a snippet of written work, for that matter. Most of what I post on the social networks are links to get to the full article. Why? One of my Live Journal friends posted THIS about Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS), which is repeated here and http://photofocus.com/2010/10/12/photos-on-twitter-what-you-should-know/. But for those who are concerned that I’m only mentioning one side of the issue, there is this rebuttal.

Do I think Twitter and Facebook are evil for this? No. Not when all they’re doing is copying Google. This is from Google Docs TOS:

11. Content license from you
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. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license 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. This license 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.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

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

So why do I dislike Google more than Facebook or Twitter? Because they’re sneakier about it. They were nailed for similar language when they launched Chrome. They took it out of that ONE application, but not Google Docs. Google has already proven they have no regard for authors, artists, or other creatives when they began Google Books and trampled all over copyright issues when scanning books into their service without permission.

While clauses like this will probably NEVER be an issue for a writer like me (or most of us), the possibility for exploitation is there. I have no problem with companies trying to make a buck. I ignore most of the ads on the free services. I still use Gmail and the Google Search engine. I don’t like the file share systems like Google Docs and Cloud (though I don’t know as much about Cloud yet).

And though Google can, theoretically, sell your content to someone else and neither pay nor credit you – they have protected themselves from you

8. Content in the Services

8.1 You understand that all information (such as data files, written text, computer software, music, audio files or other sounds, photographs, videos or other images) which you may have access to as part of, or through your use of, the Services are the sole responsibility of the person from which such content originated. All such information is referred to below as the “Content”.

8.2 You should be aware that Content presented to you as part of the Services, including but not limited to advertisements in the Services and sponsored Content within the Services may be protected by intellectual property rights which are owned by the sponsors or advertisers who provide that Content to Google (or by other persons or companies on their behalf). You may not modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on this Content (either in whole or in part) unless you have been specifically told that you may do so by Google or by the owners of that Content, in a separate agreement.

8.3 Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service. For some of the Services, Google may provide tools to filter out explicit sexual content. These tools include the SafeSearch preference settings (see http://www.google.com/help/customize.html#safe). In addition, there are commercially available services and software to limit access to material that you may find objectionable.

8.4 You understand that by using the Services you may be exposed to Content that you may find offensive, indecent or objectionable and that, in this respect, you use the Services at your own risk.

8.5 You agree that you are solely responsible for (and that Google has no responsibility to you or to any third party for) any Content that you create, transmit or display while using the Services and for the consequences of your actions (including any loss or damage which Google may suffer) by doing so.

I’m sorry, I don’t even want to RISK having some collaborative effort removed without warning from a service designed to promote collaborative efforts. I’ve also seen too many Gmail accounts and Yahoo! accounts hacked (one of mine included) in the past year to have a strong sense of confidence in the password protection systems currently in place.

Maybe I’m paranoid and don’t understand technology. Maybe I’m taking clauses out of context and seeing boogeymen. And yet, I was in a company that was all but run out of business because Google tanked their search engine ranking s without warning, explanation, or recourse. It CAN happen. It HAS happened. It MIGHT happen again, therefore, I’m wary of any language that can HELP it happen.

Feel free to tell me I’m full of it – but if you do, please provide concrete examples. I’d like to see them. And for those of you who love the services, good for you. Personally, I’ll find other ways.

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