Elja Trum

Google Plus claims the right to your photos

saturday 9 July 2011, 20:45 by | 13939 times read | 8 comments

You've probably heard about Google's new social network; Google Plus. Currently you'll need an invite to join, but soon the doors will open publicly. Of course you can also share your photos via Google Plus, it's easy, but think twice before you upload your photos to Google's services.

When you do submit your photos to their servers they claim the right to use your photo as they please. Well, at least that is what it sounds like when you read their terms of service (I don't have any legal background). Take a look at this passage:

"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.

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.

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.

Google's online services are very useful and easy to use, but before you upload anything it's good to know what you're giving away. These terms also apply to Google's Picasa (soon to be renamed to Google Photos).

Google Plus Project - screenshot

Google does make clear you do retain your copyright, but they can use your images to promote services:

"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.

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.

Source: Photofocus

Elja Trum

About the author

Elja Trum is founder of Photofacts and author of a Dutch book on black-and-white photography. In his daily life he is an e-business consultant with Directshop.
Elja uses Twitter, is married and father of Mika and Vera.


  1. Pierrick Le Gall
    Pierrick Le Gall wrote on saturday 9 July 2011 at 22:29

    Last week, Dropbox changed their TOS (terms of services) to add the same statement. Then a huge amount of messages on Twitter said something like "I leave Dropbox, I do not agree with their new TOS". I don't blame Dropbox, but I was impressed by the reaction of users: it seems like a few people care about the use of their own data by the service provider.

    I wrote a post on my blog about it.

    Of course, Google+ has the same "free to use" statement. So does Flickr, as far as I can see in the Yahoo! TOS...

  2. Jim Goldstein
    Jim Goldstein wrote on sunday 10 July 2011 at 01:07

    Your analysis is quite broad and unfounded. Not every new site is out to steal photos. I walk through the sections you've quoted in my blog post about how I evaluate ToS documents in general, using Google+ as an example. I wonder if you'd feel the same way after reading it.
    evaluate terms of service

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Elja Trum

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