UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Apr 2012

A few hours ago I visited Microsoft’s Skydrive Web site in order to see if I was entitled to the free upgrade from 7Gb to 25 Gb of storage. As an existing Skydrive users it seems that I was so I’m pleased that I have additional storage space which I can use for transferring files between my mobile devices (iPod Touch and Android phone) and desktop computers. As I describe in a recent post on Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference Skydrive has proved particularly useful for working with my co-authors of the final versions of a peer-reviewed paper which was produced using MS Word.

Whilst installing the Skydrive tool on my PC I noticed a tweet which announced that Google Drive had been released. Google Drive, like Skydrive and Dropbox (the utility I normally use for shipping files between various devices) provide cloud storage – and, as described in a BBC News article, Google Drive offers up to 16TB of storage with 5Gb for free – not as much as Microsoft’s offering but, to be fair, I’m getting that deal as an early adopter.

Shortly after the initial tweet I encountered the scepticism with a tweet from @sydlawrence saying:

Holy crap. Google owns everything on google drive. Tell me a business that will use it… … 

which linked to the following screenshot of the Google Drive terms and conditions:

There is clearly a discrepancy between the tweet and the terms and conditions: how is “Google owns everything on google drive” reconciled with “You retain ownership of any intellectual property that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours“?

But if we ignore such hyperbole, what should we make of the terms and conditions page which states:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Although it was truncated in the screenshot I should add that the terms and conditions went on to say that:

 The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. 

Indeed, as I asked on Twitter in a different context though related to terms and conditions for social media service, what should we make of terms and conditions which state:

We may update these Terms (including our Privacy Statement) from time to time. Changes will have immediate effect from the date of posting on this Site and you should therefore review these Terms regularly. Your continued use of this Site after changes have been made will be taken to indicate that you accept that you are bound by the updated Terms.

My view is that I will use these three Cloud storage services for both personal and work-related activities. I’m pleased that Google have been open about the fact that they may modify my content as this will include compressing my files – a Cloud storage service which did not do this would be guilty of using energy unnecessarily: something which should not be done in light of global warming concerns.

I’m also happy if Google decide to explore ways in which they can monetise my attention data, just as Facebook do when they observe my interests in beer and sport and present me with a personalised ad.

But what if they use the terms and conditions to take a copy of my content and sell it on? I don’t think this is likely, but I do accept that it is risk. I will therefore assess such risks when I make use of the service – and would advise others to take a similar approach if they store content on the service. But I’m also aware of the missed opportunity costs if I don’t use such services.

So I’ll use Google Drive, once I’ve been given access to the service. What about you?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]


15 Responses to “Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?”

  1. I like how Microsoft spun their “upgrade” to Skydrive when they actually cut storage from 25GB to 7GB. I’m a pretty active user of Dropbox but I’d be tempted to shift to Google Drive if they implement Gmail and Google+ integration well.

  2. Julian Prior said

    I love this tweet from @aral: “Letting Google rummage your files in exchange for free storage is like letting a landlord rummage your belongings in exchange for free rent.” I’m really happy with Dropbox and happy to pay a premium for a service that is reliable and integrates seamlessly into my workflow. I’ll probably try out Google Drive (when it is available) but will be very selective in terms of what I put up there, which I suppose should be true of all cloud services I use.

  3. Jonathan O'Donnell said

    Brian, you might like to compare these terms to those at Pinterest, as described in:

    Pinterest’s Terms of Service, Word by Terrifying Word By Kalliopi Monoyios, Scientific American, 19 March 2012

    It should be noted that, like Google, Pinterest states “Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content”. Still, they do retain the right to sell your stuff…

  4. As a site that thas adopted Google Apps for all staff and students, our view is that Google Drive sits in Apps, is covered by our existing agreements andshould have all the security that we enjoy already – no reason why we can’t class the security/privacy in the same league as Mail, Docs etc.

    • I thought this look at the competing cloud storage services’ ToS was quite interesting…

      The fact that organizations may have negotiated their own terms is an interesting wrinkle on the old question of “should I use my personal identity or my institutional one for my online presence?”

    • Perhaps should have been clearer here – we have been explicitly told this by Google. I quote:”Google Drive has two versions – one for consumers which is covered under the consumer terms, and another version for Google Apps that is covered under the Google Apps for Business/Education/Government/Non Profit editions. So if a user uses Drive with their Google Apps account, their use of Drive will be covered under your contractual agreement.”

    • At Bristol we have adopted Google Apps for students, and is in the process of rolling out Google Email & Calendar for staff. From an institutional point of view, will we be adopting Google Drive?

      We have two instances of Google Apps. Our student instance is on the Google rapid release schedule, so they’ve already got it! For staff we are more cautious in how we enable apps.

      I echo Chris’ comment about Google Drive being covered under existing contractual agreements. But there are three technical features I think we need:

      1 A multi-user install of Google Drive, so you can use it sensibly on shared computers.
      2 apps for iPhone and iPad,
      3 ability to bulk purchase additional storage.

      2 and 3 are promised soon. Bulk purchase additional storage is already available for Google Apps business edition, and the Google education team are promising it. I hope the iOS app is working its way somewhere through Apple’s review process. But there’s no news on a multi-user install, which we really need for student computer rooms, and even enterprise-managed staff desktops.

  5. Peter Miller said

    The right to change the ToS at any time allied to the fact that continued use signifies acceptance of the terms suggests to me that you can’t get your stuff out if you object to the change. That said, none of this is unusual for services based on user-generated content.

  6. @Petrer Miller
    Thanks for the comment.
    The service which states:

    We may update these Terms (including our Privacy Statement) from time to time. Changes will have immediate effect from the date of posting on this Site and you should therefore review these Terms regularly. Your continued use of this Site after changes have been made will be taken to indicate that you accept that you are bound by the updated Terms.

    is, in fact, CloudWorks, which is provided by the Open University!

    The point I was trying to make is that Google’s terms and conditions are not dissimilar to those provided by Dropbox and Skydrive (as described in more detail by – and, in addition, the terms and conditions provided by universities may also worry users that they could be used against them. In reality such terms and conditions will often be needed in order for the organisation to implement its service and ensure they have a sustainable business model.

  7. PeteJ said

    Ever since I had the experience of discovering that I was uploading some personal documents to one of these services without realising it (because I was saving them in a sub-directory which was sync-ed), I’ve become somewhat wary.

    I’ll probably continue to use Dropbox (cautiously!); I’m unlikely to adopt a Google service as I’m already uneasy about how much information I supply to them through other services.

  8. @PeteJ

    When I installed Google Drive I was surprised that the default was to sync all Google Docs. I have created a Shared Google Docs folder which I intend to use if I wish to use the service (for now, I’m happy with Dropbox and Skydrive – especially for collaborating on MS Word files).

    The problem with the inaccurate “Google is claiming ownership of your documents” rhetoric, is that some of the more relevant criticisms, such as default actions which will be accepted by many, aren’t being addressed.

  9. […] Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts? […]

  10. […] about back-up issues may be using a solution like Dropbox, SkyDrive or Google Drive, but some issues exist around data ownership and rights that may prevent you from wanting to use these […]

  11. […] and conditions of popular online services in the past. Back in April 2012 in a post entitled “Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?” I pointed out, in response to suggestions that Google owned everything uploaded to the newly […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: