Legalese

Google Isn’t Making Any Promises About Stuff Working, Okay?

They probably aren’t claiming ownership of your IP, though, so stand down.

screen shot 2012 04 26 at 1 45 54 pm Google Isn’t Making Any Promises About Stuff Working, Okay? The advent of Google Drive has prompted the Internet to take another look at those recently updated terms of service, and the Internet does not like what it sees. Written largely in legalese (which we like to think of as “lawyer wizard-speak”), the document isn’t entirely clear regarding whether users retain ownership of the content they upload and what Google can do with that content. The result: A tempest in a teapot, Twitter being the teapot–when in fact, the policy isn’t substantively that different than those from Dropbox and SkyDrive. It’s just far less plainspoken. (Though there is a chance files set as “public” could end up in Google promotional materials.)

But while nosing around Google’s terms of service, Betabeat found something rather interesting/amusing nestled under “Our Warranties and Disclaimers.” And that’s a pretty clear refusal to make a blanket promise that their products will work like you want, when you want.

First comes a gentle introduction, cautioning, “We provide our Services using a commercially reasonable level of skill and care and we hope that you will enjoy using them. But there are certain things that we don’t promise about our Services.” Then down comes the hammer:

OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET OUT IN THESE TERMS OR ADDITIONAL TERMS, NEITHER GOOGLE NOR ITS SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROMISES ABOUT THE SERVICES. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON’T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES, THE SPECIFIC FUNCTION OF THE SERVICES, OR THEIR RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, OR ABILITY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES “AS IS”.

But Google isn’t done yet. The all-caps continue under “Liability for our Services”:

WHEN PERMITTED BY LAW, GOOGLE, AND GOOGLE’S SUPPLIERS AND DISTRIBUTORS, WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.

Translation: Quit whining when Gmail, a product you probably paid $0.00 for, goes down for two hours.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com