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Thread: [email service] Gmail

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    [email service] Gmail

    Writers need to be concerned about using Gmail to send their work out either as an attachment or posted in an email. Why? Although Gmail's TOS (Terms of Service) claims to take no ownership in email content, the fine print legalese tells a very different and far more alarming story.


    Quote:
    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.

    (Bold and underlining mine)

    When this same clause was included in the Chrome browser there was an uproar and Google removed it, claiming to have made a 'mistake'. Yet the contract persists in Gmail right now.

    This may be an alarmist view (and hopefully is), but what it seems to mean is that if you send a novel as an attachment to an agent or publisher (or anyone else) -- or store it in google docs for that matter --then potentially down the road google has the right to market that work without needing to pay you any royalties or even get your permission to use it.

    I would like to see writers and other content creators band together to get this clause removed the way it was removed from the Chrome TOS.

    Any others out there interested in fighting this too? Anyone care to comment on merits (or demerits) of my concern?
    Last edited by Clarion; 11-11-2010 at 10:04 AM.

  2. #2
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    It's not just for Gmail. It's in the other services they provide, such as Google Docs. That clause was enough to make me pull everything I'd posted there, even though they still might have it in their cache.
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  3. #3
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Gah - guys, they have to. Seriously, you're misreading this.

    Pretty much any TOS you have to agree to, in order to post or send your stuff online, has to do that as a CYA clause. Hell, you've granted me and AW rights to use or reprint any words you post here, in perpetuity, as well -- and for exactly the same reason. It's about servers and server-backups and making sure you've got a legal right to propagate and distribute the data on your server.

    In my case, it protects me if some yahoo gets banned and thinks he'll sue me for copyright infringement because he can neither continue to post nor delete what he's already posted -- and more than one banned yahoo has threatened to do exactly that, btw.

    If Medievalist emails me or shares a document with me on Google docs, then gets mad at me and decides she doesn't want me to have access anymore, but meanwhile I've already downloaded it -- this is what keeps her from being able to sue Google for allowing me access to that document. And believe me, people can and will try to sue over things just that stupid.
    Last edited by MacAllister; 11-11-2010 at 11:34 AM.

  4. #4
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Me? Paranoid? Who told you that?!
    I still poop rainbows.




    I won't steal any of your ideas. I have enough of my own I'm not using.


  5. #5
    I'm quite put out. Forbidden Snowflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacAllister View Post
    Gah - guys, they have to. Seriously, you're misreading this.

    Pretty much any TOS you have to agree to, in order to post or send your stuff online, has to do that as a CYA clause. Hell, you've granted me and AW rights to use or reprint any words you post here, in perpetuity, as well -- and for exactly the same reason. It's about servers and server-backups and making sure you've got a legal right to propagate and distribute the data on your server.

    In my case, it protects me if some yahoo gets banned and thinks he'll sue me for copyright infringement because he can neither continue to post nor delete what he's already posted -- and more than one banned yahoo has threatened to do exactly that, btw.

    If Medievalist emails me or shares a document with me on Google docs, then gets mad at me and decides she doesn't want me to have access anymore, but meanwhile I've already downloaded it -- this is what keeps her from being able to sue Google for allowing me access to that document. And believe me, people can and will try to sue over things just that stupid.
    Thank you for explaining I always figured it's necessary for some reason, since I doubt Google wants to own my writing, but I never knew why!
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  6. #6
    Banned
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    My editors use gmail as well, so they obviously don't have a problem with it.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote: "Pretty much any TOS you have to agree to, in order to post or send your stuff online, has to do that as a CYA clause."

    Not true. Google's clause is much, much more far reaching than others. Read that sentence again.
    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.

    There is a reason they were forced to remove it from the beta Chrome, it is far more sweeping than it needs to be. Ask yourself, why did people balk if it's just an innocuous boilerplate? And why did Google back down? This clause is overreaching and I suggest that people start saying no to it.

    About usage on this site, presumably nobody would be silly enough to post an entire novel here. People send novels through Gmail all the time. They send songs, designs, proposals, whatever, all kinds of intellectual property.

    Also, Google is rapidly moving towards scanning all books and will soon enter the e-book market with Google Editions. They have the power to market any data in their realm.

    Again, I'll restate, the clause is too much. Just read over the TOS for Hotmail, for example. I'm no Microsoft groupie but the language is more reasonable there. They are simply nowhere near as grabby. A little research confirms Gmail is different and I tend to agree with BenPanced. The trouble with pulling everything is that Google never deletes any data and everyone else uses Gmail too, so even if you send through a different system you are sending it into the arms of Great Mother G . . . It's better to try and get Gmail to change for the better for writers, to persuade them the way it was done for Chrome, IMO.

  8. #8
    Teh doommobile, drivin' rite by you mscelina's Avatar
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    Quite honestly, most of the manuscripts I receive through Gmail I really don't want to have a perpetual,irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display or distribute.

    Usually I can't delete them fast enough. Just sayin'.

  9. #9
    permaflounced
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    What about the sentence just after the bolded part? Maybe there's more in GMail's Additional TOS?

    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.

  10. #10
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarion View Post

    Not true. Google's clause is much, much more far reaching than others. Read that sentence again..
    It's not even enforceable dude, especially in countries that support the droit morale.

    In any case, you do realize that pretty much anything you do on the Internet is passing through Google's servers and routers?

    If I were you, I'd stop using the net completely, right now. You don't know who's listening.

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  11. #11
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    So I probably should not have sent my brother my manafest on why bare breasted native Tahatian Girls should rule the world and how to make it happen. All for the sake of Peace you know...

    What is this world coming to when we cannot even trust google?
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

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  12. #12
    Court Jester Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacAllister View Post
    Hell, you've granted me and AW rights to use or reprint any words you post here, in perpetuity, as well --
    Wait...


    What?
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  13. #13
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I know someone who works for a company doing independent audits on Fortune 50 companies' information security. They recommend NOT using Google Docs or gmail, because either can compromise valuable information.

    Filigree

  14. #14
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Oh heck, when it comes to that, Filigree, anything transmitted unencrypted electronically is much more compromised than putting the document in a sealed pouch and sending it via courier. Never send anything via email or anywhere else online you'd worry about standing up on a stage and saying out loud to a crowd of strangers.

  15. #15
    you're going to steal all my ideas!!!!








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  16. #16
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    I know someone who works for a company doing independent audits on Fortune 50 companies' information security. They recommend NOT using Google Docs or gmail, because either can compromise valuable information.

    Filigree
    If you're doing anything confidential, it doesn't belong on the 'net, or on a computer connected to the net.

    Most companies have policies--speaking as someone who wrote those policies--that specify not using outside not-controlled-by-the-company servers, and requiring the use of a company computer and VPN.

    Even offsite backups for private data are handled by courier and on encrypted media.

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  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW para's Avatar
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    Google is currently in a lot of trouble in the UK and the rest of Europe for various privacy violations that took place when they were going around photographing streets for that google earth thing. Somehow they managed to download information that was any of the wifi networks they passed. They also stored this information. At first they claimed they wouldn't get anything, then it was well it's only the odd word - you can't read it, now it's complete emails and passwords - identifiable information.

    I'd be very careful about the information you give google access to.


  18. #18
    New kid, be gentle! Vivid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    It's not even enforceable dude, especially in countries that support the droit morale.

    In any case, you do realize that pretty much anything you do on the Internet.
    Thank you! My mother (also working on a novel, heh) freaked out when she learns I use Google Docs for backup and to write away from my main computer. I tried to explain this to her and she would not have any of it. Okay, mom, good luck emailing your MS out without using a service with a similar TOS.

    Honestly, I feel that if google did try to take proceeds from an author's works using google editions there would be such a crazy public outcry that a) they would take it down immediately and b) any authors lucky enough to have been stolen from would see a huge up in legitimate sales from the publicity alone.

  19. #19
    New kid, be gentle! Vivid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by para View Post
    Google is currently in a lot of trouble in the UK and the rest of Europe for various privacy violations that took place when they were going around photographing streets for that google earth thing. Somehow they managed to download information that was any of the wifi networks they passed. They also stored this information. At first they claimed they wouldn't get anything, then it was well it's only the odd word - you can't read it, now it's complete emails and passwords - identifiable information.

    I'd be very careful about the information you give google access to.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that was some rogue employees pulling shenanigans that they shouldn't have been, wasn't it? My understanding of it is that they've now been fired and the information is being removed.

  20. #20
    Unabashed Mercenary dclary's Avatar
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    All Google really wants is to know everything about you so they can perfectly market to you, because they make a shitload of money doing exactly that.
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  21. #21
    New kid, be gentle! Vivid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dclary View Post
    All Google really wants is to know everything about you so they can perfectly market to you, because they make a shitload of money doing exactly that.
    Exactly. Ever since I had the conversation with my mom (via gmail, of course) about Google Docs stealing my novel, I've been getting endless Publish America ads in my sidebar.

  22. #22
    Coffee Coffee Work Coffee AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by para View Post
    Google is currently in a lot of trouble in the UK and the rest of Europe for various privacy violations that took place when they were going around photographing streets for that google earth thing. Somehow they managed to download information that was any of the wifi networks they passed. They also stored this information. At first they claimed they wouldn't get anything, then it was well it's only the odd word - you can't read it, now it's complete emails and passwords - identifiable information.

    I'd be very careful about the information you give google access to.
    I'd also say this is a good cautionary tale as to why you should encrypt and password protect your WiFi network. (And not do anything that requires plain-text sending of passwords on an unencrypted network.) Yes, Google stored the data, and yes, that's bad. But they didn't do anything with it (other than store it).

    A hacker could do the same thing easily with an unencrypted, open WiFi network and then do quite a lot of malicious activity with what they gleaned.

  23. #23
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I have read this thread and have now resolved to wear my Very Special Tin Foil Hat whenever I go anywhere NEAR teh intarwebz.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vivid View Post
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that was some rogue employees pulling shenanigans that they shouldn't have been, wasn't it? My understanding of it is that they've now been fired and the information is being removed.
    They collected all publicly displayed information.

    So if you were walking past in public with a T-shirt saying "My password is 'fred'" then it was recorded.

    If you were shouting 'My password is 'fred'" with a wi-fi transmitter then it was recorded.

    This doesn't matter - because any website that cares about their user's security uses point-to-point encryption .. so the information is inaccessible.

    However many websites don't bother with encryption. So any normal bank does it properly - so no passerbys can see that info - but places like Facebook (etc) don't. That's why 'Firesheep' works.

    Doing security properly is a bit of a pain - that's why your bank probably gets you to re-enter your password after you open a new browser window - yet Facebook doesn't. It's because they do it properly.

    Accessing wi-fi info was part of their wi-fi geolocation project. It's very cool - it's why google maps can still locate me (roughly) even when I don't have GPS on the palm-top .. because they've logged which wi-fi access points are in this area and they've noticed that they also appear on my palm-top.

    (There is a self-healing process to cope with wi-fi access points being moved)

    It is a very impressive bit of technology.

    Mac

  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    It's not even enforceable dude, especially in countries that support the droit morale.

    In any case, you do realize that pretty much anything you do on the Internet is passing through Google's servers and routers?
    Droit morale refers to copyright. Google (cleverly) does not contest your copyright. They simply get you to grant them a non-exclusive permanent licence to do whatever they want with your work, including altering it however they want and selling it to whoever they want without having to pay you a cent.

    As for the routers, that's a non issue because you have not personally agreed to Google's TOS. When you click yes to get a Gmail account you are signing an electronic contract.

    Uneforceable? I hope you're right, but if that's true then why was Google forced to remove that clause from their Chrome TOS?

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/does_google_have_rights_to_all.php


    Interestingly, if one looks at Google's blog on the issue, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/update-to-google-chromes-terms-of.html ,

    they say in there, "In Gmail, for example, the terms specifically disclaim our ownership right to Gmail content." The thing is, they don't! In fact the terms include the very clause that they were forced to take out of Chrome.

    My point is this: Most people don't care about whether Gmail has rights to the work you send through it or not, it's just email. That is why I suspect there's been little fuss about it. However Chrome applied to blogs and web sites -- all of a sudden people started noticing that if they installed Chrome as their browser they might also have been signing away their content rights. So they objected en masse and Google claimed an -- oopsee -- mistake.

    Now we as writers have a bit of a unique position vis a vis Gmail. Since a lot of us send our work through it, which is our livelihood, we care a hell of a lot more about content rights than the average user.

    I'm saying we should get together and demand Google do to Gmail what they did to Chrome, because if we don't no one else will, no one else cares.

    Think about this, in ten years (?) maybe all novels are digital, who knows what form that digital service will take. Maybe Google then decides to start to market warehoused content reaped by Gmail. Suddenly this clause might become hugely important to writers (and other content creators) and then it might be too late.

    There's no need for it now, other email services don't have such all-encompassing terms, so I'm suggesting that we as writers ask Google to cut it out.

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