Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome Review in One Word: EVIL

I was intrigued by Monday's news that Google would be releasing a browser yesterday. While I used both IE and Firefox regularly in my Windows days, I'm exclusively using Safari now that I'm back on a Mac. Safari isn't perfect, but I really don't need more than one browser. Since Chrome is currently available only on the Windows platform, I couldn't give it a shot on OS X, so I cranked up my Fusion Vista virtual machine and installed Chrome.

That's as far as I got.

I'm the rare person who occasionally reads the End User License Agreement, just to ensure that organizations aren't sneaking in anything nefarious--surrender of first-born, follow-on goat hexes on the Cubs, etc. The Chrome EULA is about as scary as anything I've ever read. Here's the part which should chap your ass:

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.

Seriously? I mean, seriously? I'm sure I've violated some kind of law just by copying and pasting this text here onto my (Google-hosted) blog. But, c'mon. I get to retain my copyright to stuff I already own (mighty magnanimous of you), but Google gets to pervert it any other way possible? This EULA makes Mapplethorpe's stuff look pedestrian.

Let me get this straight. If I have a photo of someone in Picasa, a photo I took, just by viewing it in Chrome, you Mr. Google receive 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. (emphasis mine)

Seriously?

Sure, section 9.4 of the EULA claims that Google has no right/title/interest and/or no IPR to your stuff. And, sure, if it's on the Internet, people can get to it. But having content on the Internet is one thing. Google stepping up and giving themselves the right to pervert that content just because you viewed it in their browser is something else altogether.

I printed the EULA to PDF while I was installing Chrome, but didn't actually read it until after I'd installed and launched the application. Luckily, I hadn't done anything but fire up the app before getting into the EULA idiocy. I immediately deleted Chrome, scrubbed my registry, contemplated throwing away the entire virtual machine (but chose to only roll back to a snapshot), and wondered which of the Sony rootkit genius lawyers Google had hired to advise them on this EULA.

Then I took a hot shower, just for good measure.

I really, really like Google, but I like them less than I did yesterday. I host my blog with Google, I use Google Apps for Your Domain, I use Picasa, yadda, yadda, yadda. I've contemplated paying for Google Apps Premier, just for good measure.

But, whatever happened to "Don't Be Evil"?

Seriously.

4 comments:

  1. Lighten up, buddy...

    "This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services"

    While I agree that the general EULA has a flaw in it (it doesn't correctly address programs that run stand-alone from all of the Google web services), and some F'ing lawyer wrote it, I think the intent is clear. They want to ensure two things: They don't want a frivilous lawsuit that they've violated your rights if your data (or what ever) flows through Google in the process of the program doing what you asked it to do; and they don't want you bitching if you post something to one of their services, i.e., they can let other folks read this exquisite piece of writing I'm creating.

    Since you retain the copywrite, they also can't sell it, or make any money directly from it.

    And finally, there's no case law that I know of that has actually shown the validity of a "click-through" EULA.

    As you read it, keep in mind that 99% of the google apps use a back-end google service, and this was written in that light. Now, if you wnated to be a good net-izen, you might tactfully bring it to their attention...

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  2. Just a thought, but that could also be extended to SSN, credit card, passwords, usernames, etc. that you enter into their browser. So technically it would be perfectly legal for Google to post anything that you input into their browser however they see fit.

    Seriously?

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  3. Todd--Actually, I don't think the intent is clear. In fact, it's anything but. As you note, "This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services", but you also state that they can't make any money off your content since you retain the copyright. In and of itself, that's a mutually exclusive statement. If they use my (copyrighted) content to promote the Services, with the end promotional result being that they somehow make money (browser downloads leading to click-throughs, AdWords, AdSense, etc.), that means they're making money off your content, right? And that's not cool.

    I agree with your sentiment that EULAs are a friggin' joke, but until a court deems them unnecessary, we're stuck with them, so we gotta read 'em, and we gotta object to 'em if we don't like 'em.

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  4. Sean--on the one hand, I'd say that common sense Internet guidelines would prevent Google from using content entered into an SSL form in any nefarious way. However, common sense would've dictated a EULA that wasn't nearly this inflammatory in the first place...

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